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21 Feb
Improve Your Business Billing Process

10 Tips to Improve Your Business Billing Process

One factor that contributes to small business success is funds coming in regularly, receiving client payments in a timely manner, and getting paid in full. So it is important to have a business billing process that gets invoices out on time, and ideally, paid on time. Here are some tips to improve your cash flow by making your business billing process seamless.

1. Set Terms Up Front

Your terms should be clearly stated to your client from proposal to payment.

• Do you bill hourly or by the project?
• How are any time overages or unexpected costs billed?
• Do you require a deposit? For example, one firm we have worked with requires a 50% deposit on projects more than $2,000, or for new clients until they have a proven payment record.
• Do you invoice multiple times during a project, especially if it is long or has multiple stages? Or do you only invoice once at completion?
• What timeframe does the client have to pay?
• What forms of payment do you accept?
• What are the penalties for late payment?
• How will the client be apprehended for late or non-payments?

2. Invoice on a Schedule

Decide on a billing schedule and stick to it. Will you bill at the end of each completed project, weekly, or at the beginning of the month? Figure out what billing business process schedule will allow you to be consistent so you can get paid.

3. Have a Business Billing Process System

Like having a schedule, having a clear system with outlined procedures is essential to a business billing process. Whether you use a spreadsheet to keep track of invoices, or a cloud software program, each invoice should be easily found and tracked. Tracked information should include invoice numbers, date sent, payments and dates paid, amounts still due, and any other pertinent information.

4. Consider Cloud Software

Even if your company has a more manual system that works for you, it may be worth considering a cloud billing software system. Integrated with your project management and/or time tracking software, creating invoices is only a few clicks away. Billing reminders and statements are easy to access—and send to clients—too. It will simplify your business billing process. The cloud system may even help offer your clients a convenient way to pay, ensuring you get payments in faster

5. Invoice with Supporting Data

• Make sure invoices received by clients meet these recommended elements:
• Have clear and easy-to-read details regarding the invoice and project including due dates, tracking number, itemized charges, deposits paid and total amount due
• Give a contact for your company if the client has any concerns or questions about the invoice
• Make it clear and easy for the client to know how to pay their bill: with an online paying tool, an address for mailing a check, credit card authorization form, or include an ACH application
• Any addresses and client contact information must be accurate in order to reach the person responsible for paying the bill
• Minimize errors and check for accuracy
• Invoices represent your company: Research shows that invoices with a company logo are paid sooner than those without

6. Keep Detailed Records

Keep accurate records for the project, invoices sent, and any follow-ups requesting payment in case there are any questions about the invoice, or a client contests the charges. For example, if your service is one that is paid by the hour, keep detailed tracking of the hours worked, what work was completed in that time, which staff worked on the project and more.

7. Follow Up Regularly

Part of an effective business billing process is having a system for following up on overdue invoices. Will you contact late paying clients weekly, semi-monthly or monthly? Will you send friendly reminder statements in the mail, email follow-ups, make phone calls, or a combination of these actions? Sometimes late payment is an oversight and the client will appreciate the reminder as flagging an accounting error or lost check payment.

8. Make Billing a Priority

Having an efficient business billing process is essential to the success of a small business. Without getting paid for the work you do, you can’t maintain cash flow, and, therefore, keep your doors open. Make the time in your schedule to keep your business billing process up to date.

9. Value Your Worth

You put a lot of effort into the work you do for your clients. Value your time and your right to get paid for a job well done.

10. Make American Receivable Part of Your Process

If you still have concerns about getting paid on your invoices and cash flow shortages after following these business billing process tips, American Receivable may be able to help. With offices in Dallas and Austin, American Receivable is ranked No. 1 nationally among small-business factoring companies. Since 1979, we have provided small businesses with the financial resources and accounts receivable management strategies they need to grow, increase inventory, make payroll on time, and effectively compete in the marketplace. We can provide funding within as little as 24 hours in some cases. Call us for a FREE quote today at 1-800-297-6652, or complete this quick quote form.

By Jack Stieber –  President  – American Receivable

14 Feb
Effective Teams Contribute to Small Business Success

Characteristics of Effective Teams to Build Your Business Success

We don’t work in a bubble. Every day we are interacting with clients, vendors, co-workers, and other business contacts. One of the most important relationships we develop in a small business environment is the team of professionals working closely together to secure the success of the business. The strength of this team and how well they work together is vital to staying competitive, productive and profitable. In this article, we’ll discuss the important characteristics of effective teams to improve your business.

Commitment to a Common Goal

Teams are created to efficiently and effectively complete a goal. The goal must be defined. It can be increasing sales for your company, getting a large order shipped out, or planning the annual client appreciation event. It is important that the goal has a clear direction, and each member has a good understanding of what the desired outcome looks like. The goal of the team is greater than individual interests. This is the first step towards coming together as a unit and successfully achieving the goal.

Participation

In effective teams, each person of the team needs to have a clear role and must be considered essential to the team’s success. All members need to understand they are a part of the solution and must be motivated to put in their fair share of the work.

Open Communication and Collaboration

The more comfortable team members feel with other members, the more they will be able to communicate openly with each other. Building a team culture that allows for open, frequent, and face-to-face communication will encourage team members to collaborate and freely exchange ideas and information.

It is important to mention that good communication does not just mean sharing your ideas and thoughts in a clear way, but also closely listening to and respecting the ideas and thoughts of other team members. In effective teams, if something is not clear, members ask clarifying questions.

Opinions, Risks, and Change

Differing opinions and ideas help spark creativity. By encouraging diverse opinions, there is an opportunity to have more ideas to evaluate, thus working towards the best solution to achieving your goal. Brainstorming is a safe, tried and true tool for building on each other’s ideas, allowing the team to discard the less valuable ideas, and elaborate on the stronger ideas. This also encourages team members to take risks and suggest possible changes that are in the team’s best interest.

Defined Roles by a Strong Leader

Each team member needs a defined role within the team.  A strong leader is important to effectively motivate the team, give feedback, and, if applicable, select the team members and distribute their roles. A good leader will also be a role model for good, open communication. Members should be placed in roles that take full advantage of their strengths and abilities. For example, a detail-oriented person would be great for keeping the team on track, but a creative artist may not be the best choice for handling budgets and metrics.

Responsibility

While individuals are responsible for completing their assigned tasks in a timely and efficient way, teams should not blame individuals for mistakes. Both failures and successes are shared by the team as a whole. However, it is appreciated when individuals are recognized for special contributions made to the success of the team.

Trust, Mutual Respect

Team members must feel safe communicating with each other. Members cannot feel judged by other team members. There needs to be a culture of mutual respect of abilities, and trust that members are not talking behind each other’s backs. Team members also need to trust that individual parts of the team are handling their responsibilities and tasks. Trust and mutual respect can be built through team building exercises and experiences.

Put American Receivable on Your Team

In conclusion, effective teams will collaborate and work together as a strong, solid unit. By reviewing the characteristics outlined above, you can build a team that will take your small business to new levels. And if your accounting team needs help with accounts receivable or cash flow, consider adding American Receivable to your team.

American Receivable is ranked No. 1 nationally among small-business factoring companies. Since 1979, we have provided small businesses with the financial resources and accounts receivable management strategies to grow, increase inventory, make payroll on time, and effectively compete in the marketplace. With American Receivable on your team, get funding within as little as 24 hours in some cases. Call us for a FREE quote today at 1-800-297-6652, or complete this quick quote form.

By Jack Stieber –  President  – American Receivable

08 Feb
Business Accounts Receivable: A Small Business Overview

Understanding Business Accounts Receivable for Small Businesses

Business accounts receivable is an important accounting term to understand if you are going to have a successful and profitable business. We believe it’s so important that we made it a part of our company name—American Receivable. Simply put, business accounts receivable are the monies customers owe to a business for products and/or services provided. The key term is “owe”. Business accounts receivable are an asset to your company, but they don’t count as actual cash until the invoice is verifiably paid. Some companies fail because they have a lot of accounts receivable on record, but they don’t follow up well enough on actually getting invoices paid and money in the bank quickly.

Have a Strong, Reliable System for Business Accounts Receivable

Without cash flow and money in an account, a business can’t sustain itself. Uncollected payments tie up money that can be used for growth, accounts payable, new orders, etc. Therefore, it is essential that a business has a solid system in place for invoicing, monitoring and collecting on accounts receivable in a timely manner. You are not in the business of giving goods and services for free, so allocating time and resources towards administrating your accounts receivable is good business practice.

To Give Credit or Not to Give Credit?

In retail, transactions are paid for at the time of purchase. However, in many business to business transactions, there are often terms for payment. This is the same as giving your clients credit, as they are receiving goods and services before paying for them. You may require a credit application to check on the prospective client’s payment history before allowing a longer term for their invoices. For example, your company may require payment in only 10 days after the date of the invoice before considering the payment late. For some companies, 30-day terms are the standard, especially when the client has a clean payment history. Whatever you choose, it is important to follow up with clients delinquent on their payment. If a client is consistently late, it may be worth requiring a deposit or shortening the payment terms for future transactions.

Be Diligent with Business Accounts Receivable

There is really no excuse for not being diligent about your business accounts receivable. Thanks to popular computer accounting software, producing business account receivables reports, and keeping track of aging accounts is simple. You just need to make sure to schedule it and generate the needed reports so that you can contact the delinquent clients and remind them that payment is overdue. The longer you let nonpayment slide, the less likely you are to collect on it, and so early intervention can prevent later aggravation.

Still Not Getting Paid?

What do you do when a client doesn’t pay and your company needs the cash? First of all, continue to reach out to the client and try to collect on the delinquent account. Another option is to take legal action, but this can be expensive—sometimes more than the amount you are owed. You can also consider factoring. American Receivable, the go-to source for factoring in Texas and throughout the nation, can help improve your business accounts receivable and help you make your business a success!

Here are some final tips to manage your business accounts receivable:

• Communicate with your clients about their invoice and outstanding balances. This includes making sure you have updated, accurate contact information
• Maintain diligence by having a detailed and scheduled procedure in place for invoicing, monitoring, and collecting payments
• Follow up on sent invoices in a timely manner
• Develop a regular schedule of follow-ups and how the communication will be sent
• Keep accurate records and documentation

Consider Factoring

Does your business accounts receivable need a boost? Are you thinking about factoring for your company help you get the cash your business needs? With offices in Dallas and Austin, American Receivable is ranked No. 1 nationally among small-business factoring companies. Since 1979, we have provided small businesses with the financial resources and business accounts receivable management strategies they need to grow, increase inventory, make payroll on time, and effectively compete in the marketplace. We can provide funding within as little as 24 hours in some cases. Call us for a FREE quote today at 1-800-297-6652, or complete this quick quote form.

By Jack Stieber –  President  – American Receivable

01 Feb
Business Tax Deductions You Should Consider

Tax deductionsBusiness Tax Deductions You Should Consider

The poet Robert Burns once said, “There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing.”

That sentiment rings true for small businesses throughout the U.S. as the dust of the 2016 presidential election settles and tax season approaches.

During the campaign, President Trump focused on growing the economy by leveling the playing field, reducing regulations, repealing the Affordable Care Act and lowering taxes for businesses.  While the rhetoric was music to the ears of many small business owners, others pointed to Trump’s lack of specifics as the reason for caution.

In a January 18th USA Today article, writer Rhonda Abrams pointed out that Trump’s plan to reduce the corporate tax rate would likely only apply to “C” corporations.  And she points out that “eliminating loopholes” could translate to a loss of deductions that many small business owners routinely take – like carrying forward business losses, claiming the use of your car or truck for business use and incentives for investors to fund new ventures.

The truth is it will take months, if not years, and the cooperation of Congress for such sweeping changes to take place.

In the meantime, here are 5 business tax deductions you should consider.

Tax Deductions for Interest Paid on Business Loans

You may deduct interest on small business loans, but keep in mind that the deduction can only be taken if the funds are used for business purposes.  Although interest paid on loans from friends and relatives is deductible, the IRS tends to look at these with a greater scrutiny.  Attorney and author Stephen Fishman warns, “You need to carefully document these transactions. Treat the loan like any other business loan: Sign a promissory note, pay a reasonable rate of interest, and follow a repayment schedule. Keep your canceled loan payment checks to prove you really paid the interest.”

In addition to conventional bank loans, factoring fees are also generally considered a business expense and are therefore deductible.  You should discuss your particular situation with the factoring company and your tax professional to make sure your situation conforms with IRS requirements.

Deductions for Business Travel

You should deduct your business travel costs and save your airline miles for personal use.  In a recent Investopedia article, writer Marc Prosser points out that “Business owners often rack up points on their miles card and figure that they can reduce business travel costs by using their miles for business flights. However, if they also fly fairly frequently for personal trips, this is a mistake. Business travel costs are fully deductible as a business expense; personal travel costs are obviously not.”

Deductions for Maintenance and Repairs

Tax deductions are available for the cost of routine maintenance and repairs to the business property.  However, improvements that add to your property’s value must be capitalized and depreciated.  Tax Consultant William Perez uses the example of changing the oil in a car.  According to Perez, “Changing the oil keeps the car operating normally and efficiently, but it doesn’t substantially prolong the useful life of the car. Replacing the transmission or engine, however, would substantially prolong the useful life of the car, and so this would be more like a repair that needs to be capitalized.”

Tax Deductions for Wages Paid to Independent Contractors

If your business employs independent contractors to meet your labor needs, you may deduct that cost.  Just be sure to provide any contractor who receives $600 or more in wages with Form 1099-MISC.

You should also be sure that independent contractors you employ meet the requirements outlined by the IRS.  Claiming an employee as an independent contractor can have a number of costly legal consequences for your business, including:

  • Reimbursement of wages you should’ve paid them under the Fair Labor Standards Act, including overtime and minimum wage
  • Payment of back taxes and penalties for federal and state income taxes, Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment
  • Payment of workers’ compensation benefits to any employee misclassified as an independent contractor
  • Providing employee benefits, including health insurance, retirement, etc.

Tax Deductions for Employee Education and Tuition

Employee education assistance is deductible provided you set up a qualified educational assistance program that adheres to IRS regulations.  The IRS currently allows businesses to deduct up to $5,250 for tuition reimbursement for employees.

In a recent article published on www.thebalance.com, writer Jean Murray points out, “Independent contractors working for your business can be treated as employees for the purpose of this benefit. That means they may also exclude allowable education to benefit expense payments from income. Their income would be reported on Form 1099-MISC.”

Before claiming any of these deductions, you should refer to IRS publications and discuss them with your tax professional or employee benefits consultant.

Obviously, this article covered just a handful of the deductions small businesses can take.  Are there others that you think our readers would find helpful?  If so, please share them by posting a comment below.

By Jack Stieber –  President  – American Receivable

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