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Headline: “A Tax-Free Thanksgiving Is Something To Be Grateful For

Posted on December 27th, 2019

Thanksgiving is known for turkey and cranberry sauce, and it’s always a special time with family. But more importantly, it’s about gratitude.

Gratitude gives us pause. When we’re thankful, we stop to take note of what’s truly important.

And when something really matters, we say “it counts!”

What’s behind the saying “it counts?”

When we appreciate something, we count it. For example, when the Jewish people were in the desert, Hashem counted them every year. As a tribe, we’re precious to him, which is why he showed this love through the counting. My family loves stuffing, and my kids “count the minutes” until they can dig into the stuffing — every year! Professionally, we count our successes, and to the dread of business owners around the world, we count numbers for various reasons. As an example, to know how profitable we are for the period. 

Why it’s so scary being a business owner

As business owners, we’re under an onslaught of constant ups and downs, including managing our cash flow. Did you know 40% of business owners (according to a SCORE survey) say the WORST part of owning a business is bookkeeping and taxes? We all have different strengths, and it’s much easier when business owners focus on their strengths.

One of my favorite sayings is “This too shall pass,” and I encourage my clients to believe in themselves and their products. But first, it starts at home. For me, believing in myself has to do with gratitude. Instead of worrying, every night before I go to sleep, I take a few minutes to meditate on what I’m grateful for. Questions like “Who am I most grateful for today? What is one small thing I appreciate? What made me laugh today?” are key to focusing away from my worries and turning inwards, towards gratitude.

In a real way, what we’re grateful for can also stimulate worry. We fear losing, or mismanaging, what we have, especially when it comes to what “counts,” or our finances. If you’re a business owner, the list below is an important checklist for you. 

Top 8 Important Numbers Business Owners Worry About

When my clients call, I find out not only what they’re grateful for, but what they’re worried about. How are their kids doing? What are they celebrating? What keeps them awake at night? (Hint: Nearly always, it’s managing cash flow.)

I don’t know about you, but all MY credit cards look the same when I’m in a rush! Which is why, point #1 is especially relevant to me. Have you ever swiped your credit card for a business expense, only to discover you used the wrong one? Of course, it’s not something to make a habit. However, did you know if you have the documentation, you can usually still use the deduction?

  1. Keep personal expenses separate from business expenses
  2. How to track expenses from day-to-day without spending too much time on it
  3. Classify your independent contractors the right way so you’re not spending more on taxes than you should
  4. Spending too much time managing payroll
  5. Figuring out when, and which employees, they need to send W2 and 1099 forms to avoid trouble with the IRS
  6. How to create a financial report, especially for the first time
  7. How to get through tax season with ease, with ample time to focus on the rest of the business
  8. Pinpointing your top 3 revenue producers, and focusing on those so you can stop wasting time on services which aren’t profiting you

One thing I’m very thankful for, are the individuals who continue to support me on LinkedIn, comment on my posts, and read this blog. When someone tells me how my posts have impacted them, it means the world to me. It’s immensely satisfying helping my clients, and I’m deeply gratified knowing I’m able to help you by sharing my knowledge freely.

This Thanksgiving, please remember to stop and notice each special moment. Spend time with your family. Count your blessings. Most importantly, make it count!

Use JSN Consultants for your accounting needs to free up time for what you’re best at. If you’re interested in spending more time getting paid by outsourcing your accounting to us, get in touch now.

#ReneeKnows 

#quickbooksonline

#positivepsychology #happiness #investing #grateful #Thanksgiving

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4 proven tips to help you generate a decent return on your time when networking

Posted on December 27th, 2019

Many of our clients use networking as a route to market. And, as a service-based professional like many of our clients, we find networking – whether on or offline – a great way to find introducers and what we like to think of as business buddies. Therefore, in this article, Renee, our principal talks about what it really takes to go from moving around a room with strangers, or having a coffee, to truly networking ‘on purpose’ and with intention. 

Networking ON purpose

So how did this article come about? I had been given a ticket to the all-day ‘Tribe’ conference. And before I left for the event I bounced around some ideas with my coach of how to get the most out of these types of events. And then one thing lead to another, and this article got written!

But the thing is, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of attending yet another event or having yet another coffee with a potential introducer. After all, we get to give ourselves a ‘big’ tick in the box that says business development activities are done. But given that time is something that so many of us haven’t got, any such business development activity needs to be carefully monitored to see whether there is a decent rate of return. 

To make sure that any investment in your network or time to attend a networking event really pays off think about (as my coach asked me!) What is your goal when you go about networking? Are you looking to raise your profile? Are you looking to grow your personal connections list? Get clear on your intentions. If you don’t, you will ultimately invest a lot of time that ends up nowhere. For some people networking comes easy, for others not so much; either way, get your intentions clear and focus your networking efforts in the right direction!

Be a good listener

Every relationship is built on a foundation of trust. And that trust comes initially from how you treat someone. Someone once said, “People might not remember what you said but they will remember how you made them feel.” And when at networking events, people can tend to feel under pressure when they do not know many people in the room, as I am sure many can relate to. After all, we all grew up with our parents telling us “don’t talk to strangers”! Regardless of how many people you know or don’t know, remember your objectives for being at the event. This normally means striking up a conversation. And if you want to build trust, be a good listener when in that conversation. Many of us dread those initial first tentative conversations. After all, small talk is a skill to be learnt. But with a few tried and tested conversation starters, you can easily strike up a conversation with anyone. For example, I like to ask people what they do for fun, which is a great conversation starter. 

Look for common interests

It can be very tempting to want to jump straight into a business type conversation. Because, after all, that’s why you are both there. To win business? But go too quickly to business and you can wreck a relationship before it has properly started. If business is going to flow, whether by referral or directly, you need to build a personal connection. Whether it be discussing different cuisines, jewelry, or even gym exercises, these little commonalities can go a long way in securing a connection and leave a lasting impression on whoever you are speaking with. I remember my coach and I working out together when we are together at QBconnect in San Jose. We both have some treasured memories, but also common interests, which have formed the bedrock of our working relationship.

It’s all in the follow-up

There is a saying that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to meet your networking prince. And yes, not every connection you meet is a favorable one. For example, if you live in New York, staying up to date with a European Insurance Broker may not be the most useful of connections. Unless of course your clients do a lot of work with European subsidiaries or businesses. 

Business doesn’t tend to flow based on purely one meeting at a networking event, or one coffee. The value is always in the follow-up. So next time you head out for a ‘coffee’ or a networking event, remember your objectives and keep in mind your marketing plans for your service-based business. Who do you really need in your network to help you generate more business? And then if you meet a potential candidate, how can you get the next meeting in the diary? For example, inviting them to an event you are going to, maybe an easy next meeting? 

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Linkedin Strategy

Posted on December 27th, 2019

Do you have a connection Strategy?

It is very important to have a strategy for connecting here on Linkedin.

This is my process:

Automatic Acceptance

  • Friends and family.
  • Colleagues from past or present
  • Of course, my fans
  • Fellow Group members
  • Clients-Old, Current, and prospective

Love meeting new people, but do not like to be pitched to before introductions.

When I receive an invitation, this is how I proceed:

  • Have I met him/her before?
  • Can this person be a referral source?
  • Am I a fan of their content?
  • Are they a potential client?
  • How can this beneficial to the both of us?

How I go about trying to connect to others:

  • If I am a fan, I will do my due diligence and review all past posts and leave comments to try and kickstart a relationship.
  • If potential client, review all past activity and try to open the lines of communication.

This is my strategy! In a nutshell, this is how I go about my daily Linkedin Activity. Do you have any tips to share with me? Or anything to ad?

Please reach out or post in the comments below!

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How Can Keeping My Books Up To Date Help My Business?

Posted on August 20th, 2019

One of the most common things I hear as an accountant is, “I can see my bank balance, so why do I need to have up-to-date records?”

When running a small business, it’s so easy to get sucked into making and selling your goods and services. But what about all that bookkeeping?

Surely you don’t need to worry about bookkeeping every day, right?

If you’re thinking you only need to think about bookkeeping once a month or even once a quarter, think again!

Here’s what you get if you stay on top of your bookkeeping:

Helps you to know your financial situation

Updating your books gives you the information you need to run your company smoothly. Who doesn’t want that?

If you stay on top of your records, you’ll have all your outstanding bills, payroll estimates, and income information, right at your fingertips.

Smooth sailing, anyone?

Up to date books improves decision-making abilities

Having daily bookkeeping records makes it much easier to make crucial financial decisions. You know the ones.

And knowing how much capital you have helps you decide between things like purchasing more inventory or hiring more staff.

Alternatively, if your records show you’re running low on capital, you can take out a loan

for your business.

On the other side of the coin, banks will want to see proof you’re making money before extending you a line of credit. .

Up to date books makes your job easier

By updating your financial records daily, you’ll save the time you would have otherwise spent playing catch-up at the end of the month.

If your books are always in order, you free up your time to focus on running your business – and your personal life.

Up to date books keeps your small business safe and sound

If you check your books daily, you’ll catch fraudulent charges, keep your checks from

bouncing, and make sure you have enough capital for upcoming payments.

In other words, you’ll keep your business from running into the ground.

Bonus: When you meet with potential investors, your up-to-date records will show you’re serious.

Up to date books makes problem-making easier

If you keep your bookkeeping top of mind, you’ll catch problems early – and solve

them before they multiply.

Best of all, fraudulent activity won’t stand a chance at doing irreparable damage to your business. 

Up to date books enables you to have a stress free tax season

Do you know your five top income streams? You would if your books were up to date!

If you are ever audited, one of the things you’ll be asked for is a general ledger. If you aren’t up to date, you won’t have this.

Unmanageable stress, anyone?

Up to date books allows you to forecast revenue and manage expenses

By keeping your books up-to-date, you’ll know if a client forgot to pay you or if you forgot to invoice your client.

Because let’s face it; it’s really easy to let your expenses get out of control.

Best of all, you’ll even catch that subscription you’ve been meaning to cancel.

Need help with payroll reconciliation? Have comments you’d like to share with me? E-mail me at  renee@jsnconsultants.com or reach out via LinkedIn.

Renee and her team have over 20  years of experience in helping businesses be more efficient and stress-free. Renee Wengrofsky is the founder of JSN Consultants, a West Hempstead-based accounting firm that helps passionate entrepreneurs realize their dreams by supporting them in building sustainable, profitable companies.

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Do I Need A Separate Payroll Bank Account?

Posted on August 13th, 2019

Do I Need A Separate Payroll Bank Account?

Renee Wengrofsky

Founder, JSN Consultants LLC 

 Being a new employer can be so exciting! 

But it also means making decisions that can affect your company’s daily operations. This, while definitely exciting, also comes with some responsibility.

As an employer, you have a responsibility to both your employees and the IRS. Paychecks need to be issued on time and tax liabilities need to be accounted for and paid according to IRS and state guidelines. 

An easy solution/hack? Keep a separate payroll account to simplify your accounting and reconciliations.

Here are a few reasons why it’s great to have a separate payroll account:

Account Security

Having a separate payroll account protects the integrity of both your operating and payroll accounts. If one account is breached or threatened, the other still stays protected. 

This way, you won’t have your business account drained if your payroll account gets hacked, or vice versa. 

Pay some of your employees with checks?

If so, your bank account and routing numbers appear at the bottom of the check. Failing to keep your payroll and main business bank accounts separate could risk your entire business income to payroll fraud. 

Say an employee misplaces a check and it ends up in the “wrong hands.” That person could now have access to all the funds in your bank account. 

By keeping the accounts separate, you limit the accessible funds to just your payroll account. 

The rest of your business stays secure.

 Easy Reconciliations

Most operating accounts have many transactions that flow through them during the course of the month. 

From expenses to revenue payments, each individual transaction is listed separately in your account statements. 

When you add in payroll transactions, which not only include salary payments but also tax liabilities and employer contributions, it can cause a lot of unnecessary confusion.

If you have a separate account dedicated only to your payroll transactions, you can transfer just what you need to cover paychecks and tax liabilities and reduce transaction volume in each account. 

Reconciliations are now simpler. 

 Accounting Controls

 Protecting the integrity of your company’s bank accounts from internal fraud is just as important as securing it from outside threats.

This means the employee responsible for accounts payable, receivables, and bank reconciliations aren’t also issuing payroll.

By having a separate payroll account, you can not only have different employees handling your accounting and payroll but also protect individual payroll information. 

Tip: Have the payroll account reconciled by an employee authorized to access payroll information to avoid having unauthorized employee access other coworkers’ payroll details.

 Liability Protection

 With a large volume of transactions flowing through a company’s primary operating bank account, miscalculations can be devastating. 

By using a separate payroll account, you can make sure the money that’s dedicated to tax liabilities is safely set aside until the time comes to file tax payments. 

This protects you from accidentally overspending your balance and then not having the funds for a tax payment when it’s due (which can lead to significant penalties.)

 Stay Consistent

With a payroll account, you only need to deposit enough money to cover payroll. 

You don’t have to worry about an overdraft because you can predict your payroll expenses.

Since payroll expenses are consistent, you can regularly deposit the same amount into the account. This way, you stay on top of your payroll. 

And, you can expect the same amount to be withdrawn on payday.

Need help with payroll reconciliation? Have comments you’d like to share with me? Call me at (contact info) or email me at  renee@jsnconsultants.com or reach out via LinkedIn.

Renee and her team have over 20  years of experience in helping businesses be more efficient and stress-free. Renee Wengrofsky is the founder of JSN Consultants, a West Hempstead-based accounting firm that helps passionate entrepreneurs realize their dreams by supporting them in building sustainable, profitable companies.

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Count On It

Posted on June 6th, 2019

The Omer teaches us about accountability, patience and the path to achieving our goals.

Renee Wengrofsky

As a trusted advisor and consultant to small businesses, I have always been fascinated by the way counting is so sacred in Judaism. We count 10 men in a minyan, eight candles of Chanukah, four questions at the Seder and, of course, at this time of year, the 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot.

Counting the days leading to the commemoration of matan Torah at Har Sinai marks the connection between freedom and service, because true freedom isn’t doing whatever we want, or what’s most convenient. True freedom is living our lives with purpose, structure and meaning. A daily, verbal count is literally taking stock of this journey of liberation from slavery, physical freedom, to the service of God through Torah, sanctifying everything we do.

Accounting is like that too. Running a business without structure and purpose would lead to chaos. We must both count and account – taking stock of what we’ve accomplished and then assessing what is ours and what is to be paid to others, and which resources to use now or save for later This is the path to true financial freedom and financial health.

Just as living our lives in the moment without thinking about the consequences on ourselves and others may feel like freedom, failing to plan for the future or settle obligations in our personal finances and business dealings is also the path to ruin.

Here are some questions to ask yourself during this time:

  • Am I producing and maintaining accurate financial statements to allow my business to make strategic decisions that support growth?
  • Have I taken the right amount of deductions on my paycheck?
  • Have I set up 529 tax-free education saving accounts for qualified beneficiaries?
  • Are timely invoices generating proper cash flow?
  • Can I afford to contribute more toward my 401k for maximum retirement savings?
  • Have I made every effort to avoid fees or fines by meeting deadlines and complying with fast-changing rules, such as those for medical, legal, and real estate professionals?
  • Am I mitigating risks to avoid an audit, and keeping accurate, compliant records to stay prepared for one?
  • Should I reduce employer costs by outsourcing accounting and bookkeeping services?
  • Is my IT system secure, up-to-date and equipped to back up all company documents?
  • Do I have the most productive software for records and financial planning?

Counting the Omer, which concludes with Shavuot on June 9, teaches us patience and foresight, eyes on the prize, a way of keeping track of our journey.

Just as the Jewish people prepared for the sanctification of becoming the Chosen People at Sinai with each step away from Egypt, we should use this time to take stock of how our year is progressing, how we are meeting the goals we have set for ourselves and whether we are prepared for the obstacles ahead.

If your taking stock leads to unanswered questions, or flaws in your processes or strategy, please call for a free consultation to see if JSN Consultants can help.

Renee Wengrofsky is founder and JSN Consultants ((516)729-7666), a West Hempstead-based bookkeeping and accounting firm that helps passionate entrepreneurs realize their dreams by supporting them in the building of sustainable, profitable companies.

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Why should I use QuickBooks for my small business?

Posted on April 5th, 2019

Why should I use QuickBooks for my small business?

If there was one thing I could relay to my small business clients, it would be the following: If you are not strategically involved on a daily basis of your business’s financial health, you are losing money. It is vital to the success of a small business to begin using accounting software, such as Quickbooks, and begin the transition from excel spreadsheets.

Having worked with many new and already existing small businesses over many years, there are small business habits, whether good or bad, that become apparent to the accountant. These habits can hinder or even hold back entrepreneurs, which is why I am writing this today.

Using Microsoft Excel as your only accounting software is not the way to go.

One of the most, if not the most prominent issue is using Excel to track business transactions instead of a program like Quickbooks.

As an accountant, it is clear that I am heavily in favor of using Quickbooks over Excel, simply because it is clear to me that this will only help your business.

If you woke up in the middle of the night tripped over your slippers and broke your arm, would you call your relatives and ask them to go online and spend hours watching videos and tutorials on how to patch a broken arm? Or would you go to the hospital, to a trusted professional that knows how and exactly what to do in these situations?

Doctors fix people, accounting software fixes business.

The following are the reasons Quickbooks should be used for accounting instead of Microsoft Excel:

1. Quickbooks, by trade, is designed by people who know and understand accounting. With Excel, the process must be designed by you, which is usually not optimal.

2. If you wanted to generate a report of how well your business is doing, on Microsoft Excel you will need to create this report from scratch. With Quickbooks on the other hand, a variation of many high-level reports are available at any given moment.

3. Quickbooks takes care of all the mathematics and formulas involved in small business accounting, ensuring clarity and accuracy. Unlike Excel which requires you to input these yourself, often times causing errors to occur.

4. It is nice to know who is looking into your business records at any time, and Quickbooks gives you that ability by offering an audit trail to see who is doing what, and when. On excel, there is no such electronic record, which means you must do this yourself.

5. With client and customer invoices, Quickbooks makes it simpler by having a direct electronic invoices available to send to clients. On Excel, one must create their own separate system for each; sending, receiving and resolving payments.

6. Every business person knows about the struggles of the ‘master spreadsheet’ on Excel. Who has the most updated version? or how can we both work on this at once? This results in constantly having to email back and forth the most recent version. With Quickbooks, multiple users can be signed in and working on an account, while also informing you if the numbers are current and up to date.

7. This is the day and age of mobile devices, and Quickbooks is easily accessible on virtually any handheld device. Excel, on the other hand, glues you to your computer and will not be available to you on the go.

8. If a business decides to outsource its accounting, having already been using Quickbooks previously will ease the burden of adjustment for your accountant, while also maximizing efficiency. If he/she must start from scratch with your personally constructed excel spreadsheet, it may not be as simple or direct as it would be with accounting software.

Feedback is the key to any informational article, so please, I would love to hear from you. What is the reason you are thinking about, or maybe even already have switched from Excel Spreadsheets to Quickbooks?

Maybe because the electronic invoices get paid to you quicker?

Or because you don’t have the time to deal with Excel spreadsheets, and want to put your valuable time into your business?

Let me know!

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Struggling with contractors or vendors refusing to provide a W-9 for a 1099?

Posted on February 1st, 2019

As a business owner, you’re no doubt aware you need to tell the IRS how much money you paid to other contractors, vendors, or individuals (collectively known as ‘payees’) over the course of the year in the form of non-employee compensation.

In order to do this, you’ll need some information about the payee, including their taxpayer identification number (known as a ‘TIN’). To request this information, use IRS form W-9. Read More…

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Is your company backed up properly

Posted on November 1st, 2018

As a small business owner, it’s crucial to make regular backups of your QuickBooks files. In case the computer on which you have your QuickBooks installed breaks down, you can restore the data from your most recent backup to prevent any data loss. To back up your QuickBooks, take the following steps: Read More…

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Independent Contractors & Employees – Know the Difference

Posted on July 18th, 2018

The distinction between employees and independent contractors in your business is extremely important for two key reasons: it impacts how you pay them, and it impacts how they pay taxes.
Read More…

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