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Posts Tagged ‘finances’

Managing Finances With A Mobile Company

March 30th, 2010 :: Thursday Bram

Not every business owner finds it necessary to have a central office these days. A surprising amount of work can be handled exclusively over the web, leaving a business with the ability to avoid the expenses of maintaining an office. It does take some careful planning, however, and perhaps a few more online resources than you might rely on otherwise.

Managing a Business Online

Untemplater is just such a business. Essentially an online publication geared towards helping readers live a less-templated life, the team behind Untemplater lives and works across multiple time zones, handling every aspect of the business online. The number of tools now available for handling business finances online has made the process relatively simple. Jun Loayza, the CEO of Untemplater, describes the company’s set up: “We currently use PB Works and Google Groups to manage communication between the team and use a good ol’ excel sheet to track all our finances. Any expenses are sent to the COO who tracks them, along with our income and what we owe to our paid writers.”

If you’re considering making the switch, you can find a variety of tools through the Small Business Web, a group of software companies focused on building online applications specifically for small businesses.

Deciding on a Base

Even if your goal is to take your business on a round-the-world trip, you’ll still need a home base for it — a legal base, preferably in the same country where you are a citizen. The IRS and other government agencies require an address in order for you to operate a business. That address can be a post office box or another location where you receive mail. However, it’s worthwhile to consider all of your options before making a final decision.

Convenience is one aspect, and a key factor in Untemplater’s approach: Loayza says, “The business entity is based in Indiana, solely because one of our co-founders in charge of operations is based in Indiana.” But factors like state taxes may also lead you to make a different decision. The type of business structure you want to use can also be a factor. The Untemplater team chose to create a standard LLC, but individual states have different rules governing business structures.

The Benefits of Mobile Finances

For Untemplater, mobile finances make sense — everything about the business is mobile. “We cut expenses dramatically because we don’t need to pay rent, LAN line, internet, and all the other expenses involved with a physical office. Most of the tools we use are free online services or we utilize the existing resources of one of the members of the team,” says Loayza. There are some downsides, however, if you move beyond the purely financial: “One of the big things we are missing though is facetime—the founding team doesn’t get to bond as well and build trust by working side-by-side. It can be difficult to schedule conference calls over Skype, with team members in 4 or 5 different timezones, but we do try to have regular calls when there’s decisions to be made or progress to discuss.”

The decision to go mobile can depend entirely on your business and how you best operate, but at least the financial aspects are very manageable.

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Creating a Financial Workflow

March 25th, 2010 :: Thursday Bram

When you run a small business, bringing in someone to handle bookkeeping and similar tasks just isn’t always an option. The cost of hiring help can make it necessary to do that sort of work, although it doesn’t hurt that keeping your own books guarantees that you’re familiar with every aspect of your business.

The biggest problem for many business owner when it comes to updating financial records is actually getting around to it. It’s easy to put off tasks like tracking expenses — after all, you can always catch up at the end of the week. Then a week turns into a month, which turns into a quarter, which turns into a year before you even notice. It’s easy to focus on tasks that directly make you money, rather than figuring out where that money goes. Having a financial workflow in place, though, can help you manage your business’ money in such a way that it doesn’t get out of hand.

Your Financial Workflow

A workflow is a series of steps, each one following the next so that you can complete a larger task — usually a task that you must complete on a regular basis. It can make sense to write down the steps you need to keep up with your finances: from reconciling your bank statements with the receipts you have to entering information into your bookkeeping software, having a checklist makes the process smoother. It’s easy to say that you already know what you need to do, but it’s easy to miss a step or put things off entirely because you feel like there’s so much to do. Having it in writing lets you build a habit of handling your finances, making it easier to stay on track.

Determining just what steps you need to take can be a longer process. Before you try to create the perfect workflow, discover what you’re already doing that works. Follow the approach you normally take to get your books up to date and just write down the steps you take. If you’re not the best about doing so on a regular basis, you may have to actually spend some time on your books to start getting an idea.

Once you have a list of the steps you generally take in place, you can look for opportunities to tweak the process. You may find that you have to take information off the same piece of paper multiple times — that can be an opportunity to improve your system because if you can arrange things so that you only handle each piece of paper once, you can speed things up. There are also many tools that will help you speed up the process, such as receipt scanners.

You may find that you need to keep adjusting your routines as you go through them. The first couple of times, it’s possible to miss a step, especially if you haven’t practiced the habit. But having a list that you can work down on a daily or a weekly basis will help you to build the habit, as well as make things much easier when you are in a position to hand the bookkeeping off to someone else down the road.

Image by Flickr user ben_onthemove