Owners of small businesses appear to be turning their attention away from what was indeed novel until around a year ago, the effect of COVID-19, to everyone’s favorite topic: the rising costs of goods and supplies.
Each month, small business network Alignable takes a read of the collective “pulse” of owners of small enterprises. In its most recent survey released earlier this month, they note the 10,000-plus respondents expressed a “newfound heathy outlook” that vaccines were jump-starting a recovery, at least for some industries and groups. In fact, the network reports that this most recent survey represents the first time in 12 months that the percentage of respondents who reported a “significant negative impact” from the pandemic had dropped to under 40%. Month-on-month, the percentage of SMBs that answered this way plummeted from 58% to 38%.
Aside from concerns that fresh shutdowns and mandates could arise if cases surge again, worries were much more “timeless,” the types of things that have long kept many an entrepreneur up well into the wee hours, including:
The number of entrepreneurs who cited the rising cost of goods and supplies as their primary worry leaped from 9% two months ago to a peak of 17% this month.
While cash may always be king, 30% of SMBs surveyed had one month or less of cash on hand. Of those, 11% had no cash (noted as “already gone”), 6% had less than two weeks-worth, and 13% had two weeks to one month of cash to go.
Bullet No. 2 may not sound like a positive but, as Eric Groves in his Data Insights puts it: “Last month, this percentage was 44%! And 30% is on par with pre-pandemic levels.”
Groves characterized the concern over supply costs as an “early red flag” that they’re monitoring moving forward. It was also speculated that rising prices could hit the smaller businesses surveyed more significantly than their much larger competition, which could hamper local recovery efforts.
What tools (and expertise) is in your corner?
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it has put a big spotlight on business fundamentals. All of the elements that are so vital to well-managed, efficient operations have been put on high relief. And the “right tools” can be the best business partner that you’ve ever had. Of course, any tool is only as good as how it gets used. A smart, properly-used and effortlessly-optimized application, software, or technology can support your business in an environment where we have less time than ever before, and where change casts a long shadow over our day to day.
As far as those tools go, QuickBooks® is pretty much as close to a household name as you can get in the world of accounting management software. However, even those that have invested in it to grow their business, may not be making the most of it. Or they may be complaining about features or aspects of the software as “clunky,” when they simply weren’t “onboarded” to use the features properly. We all know how it goes; we are all in such a hurry, especially nowadays, that we sometimes just dive right in without necessarily knowing what we’re doing. It is difficult enough as a business owner to manage the daily grind, let alone to take the time to master yet another back-office system or technology. But, then again, if that technology or software can ultimately save you considerable time and headaches, it may be worth the time upfront to properly “onboard.”
It also helps that Intuit designed QuickBooks® to be, well, intuitive. After all, most small business owners do not double as software developers in addition to experts in their particular services or widgets. If it were not a truly “smart” system, QuickBooks® would not have become the household brand among small businesses and accountants that it is today, nor would it have evolved into the “software to beat” among the competitors that have emerged in recent years in their space. As business owners, you know you are doing something right when you’re the one with the target on your back, the one to take market share from, rather than the hungry or thirsty venture!
Regardless of your “space” or bread and butter product or service, a number of QuickBooks® features either universally resonate or are “universally appropriate.” We’ve highlighted a few of them below:
Connect the dots between accounts – Arguably one of the most valuable and time-saving features is the ability to link all of your accounts. So, you get a clear, “big picture” look at where you stand financially. This is particularly beneficial right now, as more businesses are wrapping their arms around additional loan or financing obligations, and tracking elements such as loan forgiveness obligations associated with relief programs like PPP.
What goes in and what comes out is now more than a “hunch” – You should never have to “guess” your expenses and payments. QuickBooks® helps you to stay on top of the monies that are being deposited and the monies that are being deducted from all of the accounts that you have linked. You can clearly see and organize these obligations within the QuickBooks® platform.
Maintain the service that has made you the business to beat – QuickBooks® also supports the ability to send accurate and timely invoices to customers and to, likewise, pay vendors in a way that endears them to you – on time and conveniently. You deserve to be the enterprise that comes out of a global health/economic crisis stronger, rather than as the dinosaur or a chapter of history. The ability to maintain your fundamentals by properly supporting the cash flow and viability of your vendors and partners is critical.
Retain top talent by keeping your employee records in order – You cannot afford to lose top employees. You depend on the “tribal knowledge” that comes from experienced employees and leadership, and that cannot be replicated with training alone. Likewise, we all know how much it costs to train and onboard new employees. QuickBooks® helps you to maintain associates’ data. So, they always get paid accurately and on time, and so you can keep track of all benefits that may be due to them. This includes staying on top of paid sick and expanded family and medical leave under the likes of the American Rescue Plan Act.
Minimize your tax liabilities – Do away with the mad rush to get files in order when Uncle Sam stares you down each year. With so many changes brought on by the likes of tax reform and coronavirus relief, it is important to know the expanded deductions and incentives that you may be eligible for, and to be on top of changing regulations from a compliance perspective. With vital information being collected and organized on an ongoing basis, you have confidence that you’ll be able to optimize your tax savings and avoid costly penalties and fees.
Additionally, project management and business intelligence tools are within reach, no longer cost-prohibitive to a mom-and-pop shop or today’s ambitious small business with an eye on being bigger. You’re able to stay on top of progress in various projects, even though your teams may be in disparate locations right now. You can also get a bird’s eye view of elements such as inventory. Given supply chain challenges and concerns over costs, it is a “must” that you have a handle on popular goods and their costs, and that you know when a must-have product is running low.
We don’t expect you to know everything there is to know about QuickBooks®. In fact, it can be hard to stay on top of new features, as Quickbooks® is always adding to its functionality. So, we at O’Donnell, Ficenec, Wills & Ferdig are pleased to have a QuickBooks® Certified ProAdvisor on staff. Annette Otteman has the advanced training to help you and your team start off on the right foot with Quickbooks®, and to help you get the most out of your investment. She is also a sounding board should questions arise. Additionally, you can invite your friendly accountants and bookkeepers at OFWF to collaborate with you on your books. We are always just a few keystrokes away.
Contact us today with your questions or to finally get the most out of QuickBooks if your “books” still aren’t as “quick” as they should be!