The Beauty of the Subscription Box Trend

Whether you live in a large city or a rural farm, you get mail. For most people nowadays, the mail is pretty lame, right? It includes underwhelming items like useless advertisements that nobody cares to look at (that are equally as wasteful for the environment), bills, bills and not-so-much more (including bills).

However, there is one part of the mail system that can really brighten anyone’s day: the part where you get something you like. Whether it’s a birthday card, a present for graduation or something you purchased for yourself, receiving gifts and goodies in the mail is wonderful, like a blast from the way it once was. It’s like Christmas, but delivered from a man in a van wearing a brown suit or a blue hat (depending on your carrier). And, now it's a business model that's not only genius but incredibly profitable.

What’s really impressive about the entire subscription box trend has to be how quickly it has expanded. For years we’ve had wine of the month and other “of the month” clubs, but it wasn’t until just a few years ago that the concept was applied to consumer goods that we use on a consistent basis (like razor blades).

The idea is genius, and the trend has caught fire over the past year. Although there is yet to be a credible estimation of businesses operating under the subscription-box business model, estimates are well into the thousands.

So, what’s so great about them anyway? Well, let’s see. Their valuable, often offering discounts for subscribing to a service. Their fun, delivering new products that most of us often haven’t heard of. And, they support smaller companies, often ones we didn’t know existed.

While we don’t have an exact financial analysis for exactly how the subscription box has affected the online economy, we’re tipping our Team VAST hats to the subscription box for delivering everything from kitty litter to snacks to pet food to medication to razors right to our doorsteps (or offices) each month and for being a newish fantastic business model.

In the spirit of Christmas, check out Buzzfeed’s 20 Fantastic Subscription boxes, perfect for anyone on your list this year.

The New Guys: Our New Virtual Accounting Teammates

There are a few things we go absolutely bonkers for here in the VAST office: watching the clock strike midnight at the end of tax day, chai tea lattes from The Hub, puppies and new additions to the office. Although we don’t have the capacity for a CPO (Chief Puppy Officer) yet, we are happy to welcome our latest and greatest members to our team. The Virtual Accounting New Guy/Gal Roster

Debbie Page, VAST: Tech | Staff Accountant

As a staff accountant at VAST, Debbie is responsible for ensuring all things financial are attended to accurately and in adequate time. When she isn’t scanning your income statements or balancing your cash flows, you can find Debbie racing the streets as a part of the Reno Corvette Club, where she’s been a member for over 2 years.

She has over 20 years of accounting experience … AKA; she’s a bad hombre. But, don't let her extensive background in accounting (or Corvette’s) intimidate you. She also enjoys reading, traveling during the summer, skiing during the winter and donating to the Reno Sparks Gospel Mission in her free time.

Welcome to the team, Debbie.

 

Connor Estep, VAST: Intern

Much like the greats of classical music, this VAST Intern is all about the piano life. Currently an undergraduate student studying accounting at the University of Nevada, Connor hopes to obtain his CPA after graduation.

When he isn’t serenading the ladies with his Beethoven-like piano skills, he spends his time camping, working (and playing) on the computer and, like every other college student, studying.

Knowledge is power, Connor; prepare to learn from our team of the best virtual accountants in Reno (and possibly the universe).

VAST at Bob Proctor's Matrixx

As a small business in Reno that works on the forefront of the virtual financial firms, VAST has some of the best team members in the nation. Each year, we send a representative from our firm to attend a world-renowned professional conference hosted by none other than Bob Proctor.

Matrixx is a quaterly conference hosted in Toronto, Canada where leading professionals from around the world in various industries meet with attendees for a once in a lifetime training opportunity. Between August 18-23 of this summer, conference goers will have the chance to listen, learn and speak with industry leaders to better their professional repertoire.

While you may not recognize the name Bob Proctor off the top of your head, his professional accomplishments are nothing but spectacular. One of the primary teachers in the wildly popular film, The Secret, Bob Proctor has become one of the world’s most sought after professional and motivational speakers. As Doug Wead, former Special Assistant to the President of the United States so eloquently stated, "Zig Ziglar may be the master motivator, Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul, the master storytellers; Anthony Robbins may be the guru of personal development, but Bob Proctor is the master thinker. When it comes to systematizing life, no one can touch him."

VAST is proud to have had their very own Tanya McCafferey invited to speak at Bob Proctor’s Matrixx for several times now, including the upcoming August Matrixx event. For more information on the Matrixx event and our involvement, please visit their website or contact us at VAST HQ today.

Beware the Spreadsheet

Microsoft sought to change the world of data organization in 1982 with the release of the computer software, Multiplan. Things, however, didn’t begin as smoothly as they hoped. Lotus, one of Microsoft’s competitors at the time, beat their market share with their own program, leaving Multiplan out to dry. After countless revisions, Microsoft’s Multiplan became the game-changer known as Excel, and, without it, the world of business would not be the same. Nearly every industry uses data-rich spreadsheets in one aspect of company operations or another; however, a recent study found that up to 94% of internal spreadsheets had errors. Therefore, beware of the spreadsheet.

Spreadsheets can be useful for everything from simple budgeting to complex data analyses. Unfortunately, flawed data means flawed results, which can lead to some pretty major issues down the road. This leads accountants (or those muli-hat-wearing employees doubling as accountants) to the question, "why is so much data so flawed?"

The answer lies in self-governing internal departments lacking a check-system. This can be especially true for entrepreneurs and business owners who are managing part or all of their own company finances but don’t have the resources for someone to check their spreadsheets.

So, what’s the solution?

In any regard, proofing your spreadsheets can be an invaluably important process. However, it isn’t always easy to find someone to sort through hundreds of line items to verify their accuracy.

Taking your time and checking your information as you go is one method of ensuring accuracy. Another is blocking your data entry time and then reviewing smaller blocks of spreadsheets at a time so you don’t have to check the whole file at once. Outsourcing your books to professional accountants in Reno is another great option to ensure your books are being kept accurately. Excel changed the game of the business world forever, and for the better. Don’t let foolish mistakes keep your company from the success it deserves.

Navigating Small Business Financial Forms

So the time has come for your small business to begin growing. While hiring new employees often means increased business, a reason for singing from the rooftops, the process can be confusing and downright scary to small business owners navigating the system for the first time. Federal and state penalties can be harsh, so the need to follow new-hire processes to the T is a must. At VAST, our motto is help small business owners do what they do best while we handle their financial and accounting duties. Here’s the lowdown on hiring new employees and the frightening small business financial forms associated with growing your small business team.

Apply for an Employee Identification Number

Your EIN allows your employees to file taxes. This is super simple, and can be done in a few minutes online or by phoning the IRS at 1-800-829-4933.

Create a Record System for Employee Taxes

The IRS requires quite a few different records to be held for all company tax information, the most common being a 4-year record for tax documents. Create a system now to avoid confusion and lost information in the future. The three main tax documents you’ll need to hold onto are for federal income, federal wage and tax and state taxes (depending on your state).

Verify Your New Hire’s Credentials

Employers are required to complete the I-9 form for employment eligibility. This form is needed to confirm that your new employee is indeed a citizen and available for work. While this form doesn’t need to be submitted to the government, employers are required to hold onto them for three years after the hire date or one year after termination, whichever comes later.

 Register with Your State’s New Hire Program

All employers must register new employees with their state government within 20 days of hiring new employees.

Worker’s Compensation Insurance

Companies are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance, and for good reason. This will protect you and your employees in case of an accident.

Spread the Word

As a new employer, you are required by law to post informational notices in the workplace that explain a worker’s rights on the job as a U.S. Citizen. Avoid a future fine and post that poster.

Tax Time

Filing taxes is never fun, but neither are the penalties associated with doing them incorrectly. Depending on your company, you’ll need to submit a few different tax forms.

Stay Organized

As employees continue to grow alongside your business, establishing a system to stay organized for all of your forms by year, employee or some other sorting system is key. Preare yourself when you first begin to grow for your own future benefit.

Small business financial forms can be confusing, but there is a plethora of information available online regarding all the different forms you might need as an employer. Visit the U.S. Small Business Administration, the IRS website or contact your local virtual accounting firm (that’s us!) with any questions you might have.

4 Startup Accounting Tips for the New Entrepreneur

Recently named as 1 of 3 Alternative Tech Startup Cities by Entrepreneur.com, Reno, Nev. has rapidly transformed throughout the past decade to transcend its former personality of a shadier Las Vegas. Therefore, it only seemed fitting that in the midst of our hometown’s up and coming identity transformation, VAST would provide some startup accounting tips tailored for entrepreneurs. While entrepreneurs may be eager, ambitious and talented, most often they are not experienced accountants. Here are 4 simple yet effective startup accounting tips for new entrepreneurs.

Plan for Long-Term Expenses

Forecasting future expenses can be difficult; however, it’s really important. More often than not, they’re also really expensive. It can be nearly impossible to account for technology upgrades, new equipment and new employees without budgeting for them from the beginning.

Beware

Money is incredibly valuable when first beginning operations. So, when that money is stolen or misused, the repercussions of not acting fast can be detrimental to your business. Always check your financial statements for any type of fraudulent activity and act immediately in the event you find something out of place.

 

Track Your Marketing Efforts

It can be easy to gauge whether your startup is profitable, but it can be frustrating and difficult to determine which marketing strategies are worth continued investment or a kick to the can. Keeping track of online interactions through Google Analytics and social media software can help you determine what is actually worth spending your money on.

 

Use a Professional

This may be the most important startup accounting tip for entrepreneurs. While business is growing and profitable, convert your financial accounting to a professional team. The cost of employing an accounting service is far more affordable than many would think, and the benefit far outweighs the cost. Eventually the time will come to hand over the hat of CFO; do it before it’s too late.

VAST works with professionals to let them do what they do best: running their small business, and that includes letting entrepreneurs keep on dreaming of the next new thing. Take these startup accounting tips for entrepreneurs and continue making Reno the Biggest Little Startup City it has the potential to be.

Mastering Small Business Financial Tips

Wearing all the hats it requires to keep your business operational is enough of a head-trip to have many entrepreneurs ripping at their hair. As if you didn’t already know, managing a small business is a vastly rewarding yet ridiculously tedious process. For those fighting the good fight and persevering through those day-to-day struggles, mastering small business financial tips will benefit you time and time again.

Therefore, it’s important to understand the basics of financial operations facing small businesses, which is the point of this post. While covering all of the necessary areas in small business financial literacy would take a multi-volume encyclopedia large enough to cover the first floors of the national library, Team VAST recommends filling up on the following couple of small business financial tips sooner than later.

Creating budgets may not be the most ideal way to spend your time as an exciting new entrepreneur, but it’s important. Reviewing past and present records to project future operating expenses may be tedious, but failing to forecast how much, where and when your cash is being spent creates all-out pandemonium as your company continues to grow. Don’t expect your budget to match actual spending; in fact, that nearly never happens. Yet, the knowledge of creating and comparing an expected vs. actual budget reaps copious financial benefits.

Keeping track of employee paperwork and financial paperwork (for taxes, loans, etc.) from the beginning is smart. Thoroughly understanding the documents you have on file is even smarter. Familiarizing yourself with these documents will not only build your wealth of financial legal workings but also reduce the stress associated with confusing documents. There is nothing worse than being asked for legal licensing and tax documents from the IRS and drawing a blank when it’s time to deliver.

Whether you choose to outsource your financial responsibilities or not, having a basic understanding of your small business finances and what your accountant is doing for your company is important in many more ways than one. The team at VAST has the financial knowledge and expertise to assist you throughout all stages of your entrepreneurial endeavors. Contact us today to start building your trustworthy bank of financial literacy.

When it comes to small business accounting, the virtual accounting experts at VAST have your back.

Filing a Tax Extension: Your Saving Grace on Tax Day

"The 15th of April": Just saying the date out loud can be reason to cringe.

It’s tax day, and while those over achievers who filed their returns moments after receiving their W-2’s near the end of January have long-since passed off Tax Day, procrastinators the nation ‘round are suffering the blow that comes with realizing that today is … today.

Lucky for you who specialize in procrastination, the end is not as near as you may think. Saving graces exist in many forms, and for you: the tax extension. Filing a tax extension can help you avoid IRS penalties even though your taxes are not 100% complete. Here’s why.

You would be surprised at just how many people have an inaccurate understanding of what exactly a tax extension is. Perhaps, that person is you. A tax extension is essentially exactly what it sounds like: a 6-month extension for submitting your tax paperwork to avoid penalties from the IRS. However, tax extensions only apply to the paperwork portion of your income taxes, not the monetary value that you must pay in the event that you owe money for your personal or company 2014 taxes.

Therefore, estimating the amount you owe on your income taxes is vital to navigating the tax extension slope because although your tax paperwork isn’t due until October 15, 2014, however much you owe for your taxes is due on April 15 (otherwise known as today). The team at VAST gladly assists clients in need of tax estimates when filing extensions, but there are a variety of online tools you may use as well.

Assuming that either you don’t owe anything on your taxes or you have estimated the amount you owe and paid it by April 15, there are several benefits to filing a tax extension. Filing a tax extension not only offers you more time to gather the information and necessary paperwork to file, it also offers your accountant more time to thoroughly file your taxes, which can oftentimes decrease potential for error (not that VAST makes errors, how absurd).

Additionally, filing a tax extension has little to no direct correlation in warranting an audit. While nobody really knows exactly what triggers audits, there is no significant reason to worry that filing a tax extension will doom you to an audit.

Filing a tax extension is a useful, practical way to give yourself more time to file those pesky tax forms. While you still have to pay the amount you owe on your 2014 income taxes by April 15, you can find all of the information to file a tax extension online at the IRS website.

Happy Tax Day! (OK, maybe not happy).

Small Business Accounting: Setting a Strong Foundation for Success

The terms “accounting” or “financial analysis” are often dull enough to put business owners to sleep or frightening enough to send them screaming from a room. In reality, managing company finances can be among the least sexy components of starting your own business; however, establishing methodical and accurate financial habits now will only reap success for your company in the future. Similar to the progression of college math classes, accounting practices only become more complex and varied as your business advances. In order to establish a secure financial foundation that allows your business to grow, keep the following tips in mind for your entrepreneurial ventures.

New business owners often forget that borrowed money must be accounted for before when considering profitability. To fund startup assets such as buildings and equipment, borrowing money is common practice; forgetting to account for the money used to acquire those assets, unfortunately, is common practice as well. Although having more equipment to increase revenues may seem profitable, failing to analyze the value of equipment compared to the revenue can cause confusion and an inaccurate interpretation of your company’s finances. Taking the time to understand your debt-to-profit ratio in the early stages of your business will help maintain that ratio as your company transforms from a small to medium-sized business.

Although it may seem mundane, tracking your company’s breakeven point from the start is crucial to creating a sound financial foundation. Take advantage of the small number of transactions when your doors first open to understand your breakeven analysis thoroughly. By doing so, you’ll have a more comprehensive understanding of the analysis when revenues and expenses begin to increase. All too often small business owners find tracking their breakeven point unnecessary during the first stages of business; when business increases, they find themselves too confused to establish a breakeven analysis, resulting in financial pandemonium.

Company accounting tends to snowball as business grows. Practices that at first appear easy to understand often become more complex over time as assets, debt, transactions and profits increase. Establishing a strong financial foundation during the first months of business is crucial to maintaining financial literacy and achieving success. While VAST welcomes clients throughout all stages of their business’s life cycle, it’s never too early to start building your company’s financial foundation for success.

Small Business Accounting and much, much more ...

VAST offers small business accounting as well as many higher level accounting services for larger businesses. To find out which of our products are best to set your business up for success, visit our products page.

Online Bookkeeping Services: The Wave of the Future, Now

Small business owners are exceptionally well known for their ability to wear more than one hat around the office. From entrepreneur to marketing director to the occasional role of office handyman, they seem to be capable of doing it all; without letting a twirling plate hit the floor. However, when your business’s accounting is one of the spinning plates, you run a hefty risk of major setbacks.

In this post, we’ve listed some of our customer’s most common frustrations with DIY small business accounting.

The Mixup: How to Keep Personal and Company Finances Separate

As a business owner you are responsible for both personal and company finances. While it may suffice for the first few weeks, months and sometimes years of operation, independently managing these finances may prove detrimental to your company’s financial well-being. Combine this common DIY-method accounting error with the rest of the responsibilities that come with owning a small business and it’s only a matter of time before financial errors begin to appear and spread inaccuracy.

To Zig or to Zag: Accrual vs. Cash-Based Accounting

How hard can it be to differentiate which accounting method to use? Surprisingly, very. At-a-glance differences may appear to be minimal, but the accrual and cash-based accounting methods vary indefinitely. While one accounts for services at the time of operation, the other accounts for revenue when cash has been collected, regardless of the time of service. When choosing the DIY method of small business bookkeeping, selecting the wrong method can cause confusion and ultimately lead to damages.

Is it a Case of Tomato/Tamato?: Differentiating Between Cash Flow and Profit

Off the top of your head, can you name the difference? If not, you may need to reevaluate your current bookkeeping situation. Although the two appear to be similar, confusing cash flow and profits is one of the leading complications small business owners face when handling their own bookkeeping. Having positive cash flows does not mean your business is profitable, but many small business owners make the mistake of thinking so every day.

The Solution: Online Bookkeeping

So, how do we recommend resolving these issues? Through a convenient and secure service brought about by advanced technology: online bookkeeping. Whether you are just opening doors or your business has been operating for years, an online bookkeeping service is beneficial to business owners of all types. As a vital component to your company’s health, bookkeeping and accounting is not an area worth cutting corners. DIY style bookkeeping for small businesses is a way of the past; online bookkeeping is the way of the future. At VAST, the future is now.