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.

What is Small Business Saturday?

Thanksgiving is close, real close. Before we know it, we’ll be together with friends and family gathering over one of the largest meals of the year.

Thanksgiving in America has some surprisingly vast financial numbers, just think about the record year in 2010 when American consumed a staggering $4.6 billion worth of turkey, two thirds of which came from Thanksgiving alone. But, what is even more impressive are the shopping stats that come from the shopping days following Thanksgiving.

While you’re preparing to get down on some roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and pumpkin pie, we want to remind you of a part of this holiday that many people happen to look over: Small Business Saturday--the brick and mortar version of Black Friday, the busiest corporate shopping day of the year.

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday was orignially created by American Express in 2010 as a campaign to urge consumers to support small businesses in contrast to the large spending at corporate stores on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

At the time, American Express had accounts with Facebook, who in turn promoted the campaign to its merchants through rebates and online advertising efforts. These social media and PR strategies resulted in over 1 million Facebook likes and endorsements from at least 41 local politicians.

As a firm believer in empowering small businesses across the nation, VAST stands behind Small Business Saturday as a perfect opportunity for Americans to support small businesses.

So, this Saturday, when the malls are overflowing from the hustle and bustle of the holiday weekend, don’t forget to stop by the local small businesses in your community with your support.

Happy Thanksgiving from Team VAST!

 

VAST is an ambitious, cutting-edge virtual accounting firm based in Reno, Nevada ... with clients worldwide. 

Third Quarter Performance ... in 200 Words (or Less)

The last day of market activity for the third quarter in 2014 comes to a close this evening. Therefore, it’s only fitting to bring you the happenings of the past three months just the way you like it: short, simple and to the point.

Third Quarter Performance: 2014

Jobs

The September labor report is expected to dominate this week’s headlines. Coming out this Friday, it’s estimated that at least 200,000 new jobs were created this month alone, ending the quarter on a positive note from last month’s upset with fewer than 150,000 new jobs.

Real Estate

New home sales rose 18% in August—over 504,000 new home sales across the nation. More growth around the nation prompts builders to believe our current rising real estate trend will continue.

Spending

Consumer spending rose over .5% in August, leading analysts to believe the rest of the third quarter will continue to see consumer spending on the rise.

GDP

46 economic analysts surveyed throughout August and September agree that the expected growth rate of the national GDP at 3% throughout the third and fourth 2014 quarters.

Stay in touch with VAST. 

(177 words - nailed it)

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: Growing the Era of the Small Business

Still recovering from the brunt impact of the Recession, the American economy is once again growing. Business seems to be booming, start-ups are sprouting around the nation at a surprising rate and overall things are looking good. As the economy continues to grow, it’s difficult not to notice the overwhelming support of small businesses in nearly every industry. At VAST, our purpose is to help small business owners maintain accurate financial records for their success, and VAST itself is a small business, so naturally we have some interest in the topic. So, the team at VAST did some digging and uncovered some interesting small business facts. Welcome the era of the small business.

A small business, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), is a business with less than 500 employees. This includes businesses of all shapes and sizes, from sole-proprietorships to companies operating with just a few employees under the national quota.

Whether we all realize it or not, there is a towering number of small businesses in the U.S. today, roughly 28 million in fact. This equates to over 50% of the working population being employed by small businesses around the nation. And whoever said you can’t work in your pajamas? Nearly 22 million of the 28 million small businesses in America operate from the home base of home sweet home.

While corporations surely have their place in the world, the role that small businesses have played over the past two decades is not only surprising but also critical to the growth of our economy. Small businesses alone are responsible for the creation of 65% of new jobs between 1995 and today. This coincides directly with the fact that nearly 543,000 new small businesses are created each month in the nation.

Small businesses are driving today’s workforce, playing a larger role in the economy than ever before. Forbes reports that small businesses in America are not only beneficial for economic growth, but they’re even better for the environment because of their role in promoting local growth rather than national or international.

Needless to say, we are living in the era of the small business and the folks at VAST couldn’t be happier with small business facts like the one we've highlighted here popping up all over the web. Whether you’re purchasing your food from a local organic co-op or getting your morning started with an Americano at the corner cafe, small businesses are a real part of nearly every U.S. community.

For facts and figures, see http://www.sba.gov/

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.

Tips for Starting an Entity in Nevada and Beyond

The time has finally come. You’ve summoned your inner entrepreneur. You’ve “stuck it to the man” like you’ve been telling your spouse and/or best friend you would for the past few years. You’re ready get rolling down the path of starting your own business, and … you feel completely lost.

Fear not! Many have walked this road before, and while it may seem daunting … even impossible at times, you can conquer the struggles of starting your entity in Nevada. Here’s how.

“Fail to plan and plan to fail.” Yes, it may sound cliché, but this statement rings especially true when considering starting an entity in Nevada. From the initial stages of conceptual design to physically writing your business plan, planning is an absolute necessity to starting your business. Unfortunately, there’s no room for that “sway with the wind and follow my heart” mumbo-jumbo here. You can follow your heart wherever it goes, just have a plan when you do so.

After creating your business plan the time comes to register your business with the state. Visiting the Nevada Silver Flume website (a government website for starting new businesses) will prompt you along a series of different questions, such as what type of business you are starting, your business name, a description of your new entity in Nevada and more.

Your new (hopefully soon to be Fortune 500) company is registered, and it’s time to get cracking on the fun stuff: federal and state licenses and registrations. Again, check with the Nevada Secretary of State website for information on which licenses you will need to operate your business legally. Failing to research exactly which documentation you will need can cost you a lot of money in the future, so doing it right the first time is imperative. Researching business practices and state laws are also important during this time, so don’t forget about those either.

Once you’ve officially registered and licensed your business, let the financing begin. No stage is more important than the other when starting an entity in Nevada; however, this must be done correctly and effectively. From choosing an accountant (such as VAST) or establishing company operating plans and bank accounts, how you handle the financial side of starting your business may determine how it ends as well. Set yourself up for success and consult a professional.

While choosing a location, equipment and employees requires insight specific to each operation, you’ve already began to walk on the racetrack of small-business ownership. For more information on the steps listed above, you can also visit the U.S. Small Business Administration Website. As always, feel free to consult VAST with any questions regarding your entrepreneurial endeavors to learn how we can assist you when starting an entity in Nevada and beyond.

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.