Using Job Descriptions to Attract Better Candidates

Posted on by TJ Van Voorhees

optimize-job-descriptions-keyword-placementFace it, finding qualified candidates for your open jobs isn’t easy. You can spend weeks sifting through all of the resumes that come into your inbox and still not find the type of applicants that you’re looking for. The real culprit in this problem may beis your job description. Everything from the title of the job description, to the keywords used, and the actual description play a significant role in the quality of the candidates that apply to your open job. So how do you find these mythical “perfect candidates” using your job descriptions as a divining rod?

Step 1 – Using keywords to increase candidate volume

Keywords became popular in the world of search engine optimization as a way to drive traffic to your website based on popular search queries and the competition for those keywords. Well, the same theory applies to job descriptions. The better optimized your job description is for specific job-related keywords, the more likely your job description is to be seen by potential candidates. For example, if you were posting a job for a sales representative, then you would also want to include keywords for related searches such as sales consultant, inside sales, account executive, sales professional, business development, etc. to increase the volume of candidates that may be interested in your position.

Step 2 – Using a Job Description Title to Attract Candidates

This may seem a little far-fetched at first, but something as simple as the title of your job description can make all the difference in your hiring efforts. Take this simple search for a recruiting coordinator for example, all of these job descriptions blend in with one another. What would happen if someone were to create a job description that had a little more “pizzazz” in the title? WORK[etc]], a small business CRM company posted a blog where they had conducted a search for a Technical Writer. Having found that all of the other job descriptions were using the same old bland “Technical Writer” for the title, they decided to do something a little different. They titled their job “Half Unicorn, Half Technical Writer” and the results were tremendous. With this job title alone, they were able to spread their open job posting virally, stand out from the crowd, and attract the high-quality, high-charisma writer that they were looking for.

Step 3 – Using the Job Description to Pre-Screen Candidates

Pre-screen may be too strong of word, but depending on the language you use in your job description, you can easily filter out poor fit candidates, or candidates that do not share the same values of you and your company. If you want to attract a wide variety of candidates who may or may not be the ideal fit, then you would opt for a more skills based job description. An example of this would be if someone posted a role for an entry-level marketing position, they would list the desired skills as:

  • College Degree
  • Coursework involving marketing
  • Strong communication skills
  • Experience in Adobe Photoshop
  • Experience with Marketo or some other marketing automation

While this form of job description may be decent at helping you find an entry-level candidate or an intern, it does not help to filter candidates by their cultural fit or ability to perform said tasks or skills. By using a more performance oriented job description you can determine a candidates overall skills and fit for the position. For example, if you were looking for a Direct Marketing Manager your performance based job description would look more like:

  • Be able to manage a marketing calendar involving multiple nurture campaigns
  • Be able to achieve an average open rate of 12% or higher for all email campaigns
  • Generate 5% lead conversion rate from targeted email campaigns
  • Create engaging email copy that engages prospects and evokes desired actions

By phrasing your job description in a performance-based manner, you can set the expectations for candidates to determine whether they are the right fit for the position, and it allows you to effectively benchmark candidate’s to assess whether they are the right fit from a skills and motivation perspective.

Within the actual job description as well, you want to ensure that you include clear day-to-day responsibilities of the open position to allow candidates to assess whether position truly aligns with their interests. After all, the more aligned a candidate is with the responsibilities, the more engaged and motivated they will be on a daily basis. Additionally, you would want to include a description of your company where you really showcase the personality and the culture, to weed out candidates that would be a poor fit from a cultural perspective.

The road to finding the perfect hire is never an easy one, but with the right job description in place you can help to filter out candidates that are a poor fit and focus on the most qualified candidates from both a cultural and skills based perspective. If you still have difficulty finding the right candidates, you can always seek additional help from outsourced recruiting and HR professionals.


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Small Business Workflow – Lessons You Can learn From Google

Posted on by Franka Winchester

Every business should run like a well oiled machine; it has various parts that work together for one common goal. To be as effective as possible, every member of your business needs to work cohesively in the small business workflow for maximum efficiency. So, what is a workflow for a small business and what lessons can small businesses learn about workflows from larger enterprises like Google?

What is a Small Business Workflow?

A small business workflow is a term used to describe the tasks and people/resources involved for each step in a business process. For example, a Support Center for a software company could have a workflow for handling all inquiries to ensure support tickets are always handled consistently from initial contact to resolution. That workflow would involve the handling of the initial ticket, the movement of that ticket to the appropriate representative, contact with the client who opened the ticket to obtain further information, passing of the ticket to the tech team to look into the issue, and contacting the support representative letting them know the problem is resolved, followed by the representative contacting the customer letting them know the issue has been resolved, and ultimately closing the ticket in the system. This type of workflow ensures that consistent service is always met with each step in a business process having to be completed before proceeding to the next step.

Why Does Your Small Business Need Workflows?

Your customers demand consistent service, and as a business owner it should be your main goal to deliver it. According to the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, 70% of Americans are willing to spend 13% more with companies that they believe provide excellent service. When the majority of businesses think of customer service, they only think of the facet that faces customers such as phone and email communications. However, your customer service extends beyond just your engagement with customers and includes consistent services or products. Having the right business workflows ensure that you constantly meet desired consistency metrics. This makes having the right workflows in place more important than ever.

What Workflow lesson can you learn from Google for your Small Business?

Test, Measure, Iterate

By adding a Test, Measure, Iterate workflow for your small business, you’ll be able to go to market faster with new strategies, learn from mistakes, and deliver a better more consistent product to help you generate revenue. Two examples of the lesson in action are:

Focus on the User – Google prides themselves on creating the best experience for their users. This shows in their constant updating of their search algorithms, and their never-ending state of innovation to improve the lives of users through their technology. With their algorithms, they’ll launch an update, measure it’s impact on users and search results, and then take the lessons they learn to create the new version to make things even better.

Fail Fast, Learn Quickly – In today’s dynamic market, failure is actually an option. By launching your service/products early and iterating, you’ll most likely fail at first but the constant iteration will help guide you towards the service/product that customers demand. For example, if you’re building a new website for your company, it will not be the perfectly functioning machine that you want it to be, but by releasing as quickly as it is “workable”, you can then continue to iterate the website based on performance metrics to reach the state of perfection that you’re looking for. Try doing a weekly or monthly recap of everything you’ve done or released and asking yourself what worked? what did you learn? and what you can do differently to get better results? You may not always succeed immediately, but by acknowledging your failures quickly you can guide your future efforts. When Google+ was first released, it was lauded as a problem filled social network that was a poor attempt at taking away some of Facebook’s market share. However, they did not let that stop them. They quickly learned from their lessons and used Google+ as a platform to integrate all of their services and found a way to make their “social network” more popular and usable for their end-users.


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Benchmarking for the Best Hire in 7 Simple Steps

Posted on by Franka Winchester

It’s hiring season, so recruiters are hunting for new talent. For years Pacific Crest Group has relied on the best hiring practices of John Younger, who, after 23 years of recruiting success, founded the cloud services recruiting company Accolo. John guarantees that recruiters can improve their rate of great hires from 50% to 80% with his hiring tactics.

Younger defines a great hire as an employee who can outperform three average employees. Recruiters must focus on the objective when sifting through candidates: attracting the perfect candidate and no one else. Recruiters can identify the perfect candidate by looking for signs of benchmarking, or setting the expectation at the best in the industry, then meeting it. Hiring managers are encouraged to utilize benchmarking while also following Younger’s 7 steps to finding the perfect candidate explained below.


  • Write the job description as a love letter – Avoid including the aspects of the job that an ideal candidate will assume and focus on emotional triggers when producing the job description. The perfect candidate won’t be interested in a boring opportunity. In the job description, answer questions such as, why would a top performer want this job? Is the candidate able to provide examples of setting goals and reaching them? Measure quality with benchmarking. Do they prioritize, plan ahead, and carry out plans? Appeal to emotions more than qualifications. Why would you fit into our culture?



  • Present a simple and compelling recruiting message – Be professional and clear on the available position, but put out a call for a special candidate. Ask for “not just any accountant.” Make the message jump off the page the way a great candidate jumps off a resume. Include keywords at the bottom of online descriptions for SEO. Ask challenging, open-ended questions to build rapport between the recruiter and the best applicant.



  • Regardless of price, consider all referrals – The best candidates are worth paying for and can potentially come from an outlet you don’t expect. Consider all outlets but be methodical. Start with the cheaper sources such as Craigslist, Indeed, and other job boards, then consider retained recruiters and other, more expensive options.



  • Don’t rush the decision, but move quickly on the right candidate – The best candidates will get the most offers. To avoid missing out on a strong candidate, focus only on asking the right questions on the job description and during the interview process. Ask benchmarking questions. How many times did you achieve a specific goal or task? How did you reach it? Prioritize skills over experience. Don’t wait to have a large field of applicants to choose from; remember that you are looking for one stellar employee.



  • Utilize a team of experts – Interviewing is a skill, so be mindful of who is chosen to interview candidates. Do the interviewers ask probing, open-ended questions? Do they know the company? Utilizing employees who have a strong sense of what your organization does can be a great way to determine if the applicant will fit into the company culture. Cultural fit is just as important as qualifications.



  • Give closure to all applicants – Only 6% of job applicants receive a response to their applications. Treat applicants like customers. Even if they don’t get the job, applicants with a bad impression and a negative experience from your hiring process can push away the ideal candidate with a negative review of your company. In some form or another, give all applicants closure, whether it’s a courtesy email or an offer.



  • Study the candidate 360 degrees – What was their first job? Why did the take it? Why did they leave it? What about for their second job? Is there a pattern? What do their referrals say? Give the candidate the airport test: how would the candidate be if they sat next to you on a long layover? Know as much as you can about the person you are hiring.


Taking the time and utilizing all resources to make the best hire can minimize lost productivity. Small business owners must adopt best hiring practices from the beginning of the hiring process or pay the price in the long run.


Posted in Blog, Hiring, Human Resources | Leave a comment

How to Use QuickBooks to Save Your Business Time and Money

Posted on by TJ Van Voorhees

The purpose of using small business accounting software is to prepare your books for your CPA, or to just make your accounting all-around easier. Maybe you’ve been doing your books for years and are already an expert with QuickBooks software, but below you’ll find several tips that we regularly apply to help our clients close out their books in preparation for their taxes. If you’re not using QuickBooks, then we highly recommend it as an easy and cost-effective solution for your small business unless you have specific industry needs or add on software that require other accounting software. By using these tips, you’ll be able to save yourself time with tax filing, lowered tax preparation costs, and have a better understanding of your businesses financial position. Continue reading “How to Use QuickBooks to Save Your Business Time and Money” »


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How to Find the Right Tax Professional

Posted on by TJ Van Voorhees

What to ask Tax professionals before hiring them

Finding the right tax professional or CPA can be a blessing. I’m sure you’ve heard other business owners talk about how great their CPA is, and how they found “this” many deductions. But have you ever heard of businesses choosing the wrong CPA? Imagine going to work one day only to find that the IRS is closing down your offices. Well as recently as 2013, numerous clients of “S. Chand Tax & Accounting Service
” were the victims of poor quality tax preparation to the degree that they either did not receive their tax returns or even had their businesses closed down by the IRS.

While you may not encounter tax professionals or CPAs with as low level of ethics as Jordan Belfort, it’s still absolutely crucial to do your homework and ask your prospective tax preparer or CPA the right questions.

What to do before you hire a Tax Preparer or CPA

Find your Tax Pro – There are tons of tax professionals and CPAs that you can find in your area. Popular ways of searching for them include using Yelp, Angie’s list, Google Search, or Word-of-mouth. It doesn’t matter where you find your Tax professional, what matters is how comfortable you are with them and how reputable they are. When you first meet your tax preparers or CPAs do your best to understand their specialty and styles and make sure that they match up with your philosophy.

Verify qualifications – Make sure that your preparer has a Preparer Tax identification Number (PTIN). This is a number that the government requires paid preparers to have. Additionally, you can ask your potential tax preparer about any organizations that he is a part of in order to further validate his qualifications. If this still isn’t enough for you, then you can ask for references and inquire into his/her educational background.

Be safe not sorry – Even if you think you’ve found your tax pro, you need to do a background check or you may be sorry. There have been numerous tax schemes from less than reputable CPAs who were caught altering clients’ tax returns without their knowledge to obtain refunds illegally. You can easily avoid this by checking a CPAs background at the Better Business Bureau or state boards of accountancy for any signs of misconduct.

Additional Questions for CPAs or Tax Preparers

Think you’ve found your CPA or tax preparer? Here are some additional questions that you should ask before hiring them to do your taxes.

  1. What size of businesses do you work with the most? Home businesses, small, mid sized, large?
  2. What times are you available for me to reach you?
  3. What do you charge
  4. How do you calculate your fees? One time fee, by the hour, etc?
  5. What records and receipts do you need?
  6. What other services do you provide?
  7. Can I file electronically?
  8. If for some reason I’m audited, then what steps will you take to help me with that situation?

Remember, finding your tax pro may seem as easy as a quick search on Google, but remember to take the necessary precautionary steps to ensure that you are comfortable with your tax pro, that they are qualified, and that they have no history of misconduct or derogatory marks.

Have you recently conducted a search for a CPA or just have tips for other people searching? Leave your tips in the comments below.


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10 Ways for Small Business to Deduct Over $513,150

Posted on by Francis

Since tax returns are on many business owners mind and the filing dates are quickly approaching we decided to discuss tax deductions that may apply to your business. If you are a small business owners and qualify to take advantage of these deductions listed below you could exceed $513,000 for the 2013 tax year using the following 10 filings: 5 with maximum limitations and 5 without.

  1. Up to $500,000 for capital expenses. Form 4562; Publication: Section 179
    To mobilize small businesses since 2008, multiple federal stimulus acts have made it possible through Section 179 for new companies to write off new and used equipment at a maximum of $500,000. states, “if you buy (or lease) a piece of qualifying equipment, you can deduct the full purchase price from your gross income.” The equipment must be used for business purposes more than 50% of the time to qualify.
  2. Up to $1,500 for office space. Form 8829; Publication: 587
    With a new method, small business owners can make deductions on office space in their homes at a rate of $5.00 per square foot for up to 300 square feet to a $1,500 limit. This option, just a year young, simplifies the old, regular method of tallying each individual office utility. The Home Expenses Chart makes it even easier to determine space eligibility.
  3. Up to $5,000 for start up costs. Form 1040 C; Publication: 535
    These include marketing costs, promotions, and employee training for small businesses in their first year. $5,000 is deductible for businesses with start up costs under $50,000; over $50,000 by $1,000 drops the deduction by $1,000. For example, if startup costs are $52,000, the deduction can only be $3,000; at $56,000, the deduction is $0.00
  4. Up to $1,000 for office supplies. Form: 1040 C, or 8829; Publication: 587
    Keeping receipts from every drive to the office supply store allows small businesses to deduct after equipping the desk. Office utilities must pass the 50% test. For example, if Debbie uses her laptop 55% of the time for business and 45% for personal reasons, her laptop becomes deductible.
  5. Up to ¢56.5/mile for auto expenses. Form 1040 C; Publication: 334
    The gas used on every drive to the office supply store can also be written off at ¢56.5/mile. This is a 1 cent increase from 2012 and will decrease to ¢56 in 2014. The average American drives between 10,000-15,000 miles per year; if the majority of driving is for work, it’s possible to deduct more than $5,650.
  6. Bad debts from goods. Form 8949; Publication:  535 Chapter 10
    Small businesses can deduct products taken without customer payment. This only applies to goods companies; service companies are ineligible. Bad debts other than unpaid goods, such as a sold bond asset, count as short-term capital losses and are reported on Form 8949.
  7. 50% on Business Entertainment. Form 1040 C; IRS Topic 512
    Business entertainment expenses must be directly related to business conducted and are 50% deductible. Proof of business from entertainment expenses is required. For example, if an agreement to a sale is made over a dinner, the signed agreement must be filed with the restaurant receipt.
  8. Charitable contributions. Form 8283; Publication 526
    If a business is an LLC, a partnership, or an S corporation, it can make a contribution to a charity and pass the deduction to the small business owner. There are also tax incentives to donate used office equipment to schools or NPOs.
  9. Interest on business loans. Form 1040 C; Publication 334, 535 Ch 4 (How to)
    Interest on business loans qualifies as 100% deductible. If, for example, Chuck owns a landscaping business and takes out a loan of $20,000 at 7% interest to buy a truck, he can deduct the annual interest. 
  10. Education. Form 1040 C; Publication: 970 Chapter 12
    Job training qualifies for a deduction if 1) it sustains or strengthen job capabilities or 2) is legally mandatory. Other educational expenses such as tuition, textbooks, supplies, and commuting can be deducted as well. Education isn’t deductible if it is for the minimum skills to do business, or if it is training for work in a new industry.

The important thing to remember is business expenses have two requirements; they must be 1) ordinary and necessary, i.e. common in the field or industry, and 2) separate from personal and capital expenses. However, some capital expenses are the most valuable deduction for first time small business owners because of Section 179.

We understand this is a bit technical so pass this list on to your CPA to discuss if you qualify for any or all of those tax deductions. Many accounting professionals and Controllers should also have an understanding of these topics – in case you need assistance our accounting staff is available to help.


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Will You Be Able to Maximize your Capital Funding in 2014?

Posted on by Franka Winchester

Are your near-term strategic and operating goals aligned with your current financing capacity?  Some companies are fortunate enough to be self-funding through their internal cash flow.  While for some, self-funding is ideal, there are others who for various reasons, find that this is not the case.

 What happens if your receivables aren’t turning into cash fast enough to afford the growth that you have outlined for the New Year?  What will you do if an opportunity arises and there is just not enough cash available to capitalize on it?  What if you are the type of company that can’t easily use your receivables as a viable option for funding?

In our last article, we discussed various options for middle market funding.  There is a lot to consider, and the variety and scope of those choices might get a little confusing.  If you are considering any of these lending programs, you might want to ask the following questions to help narrow down the perfect financing pathway for your company.

Have you considered whether your current availability of capital is adequate to accommodate your near-term operating plan or to take advantage of a high-probability growth opportunity?  It is important as you look forward to your projected plans for the year that you are aware of your current capital, and that you know exactly what is available.  It’s helpful to have a backup plan so that lack of funding does not prevent you from seizing an opportunity that could take your business to the next level.

Is your current credit facility/borrowing base priced at market rates based on your recent operating performance?  It may be possible to get better rates than you have had in the past if you know the players in the capital markets that could best meet your needs.

Are there any projects related to your near-term strategic plan that might require a unique debt structure or equity investment?  Our last article mentioned some options wherein new debt structured properly can finance your project.  Being in a position where you have access to this capital can help ensure that you are able to follow through with those plans.

Do you need to consider restructuring your existing debt due to unforeseen events and circumstances?  If you are dealing with a slowing market and some of your vendors are slow to pay, you may need to look into this option to keep your company solvent.

These are a lot of questions to consider, but here at PCG, we are pleased to be home to many CFO Advisory professionals who will sit down with you, face-to-face to discuss potential solutions to your unique capital requirements so that you can keep your business running smoothly while also meeting the capital expenditure needs that will allow you to execute on your growth plans.


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Funding Options to Support Your Company’s Growth

Posted on by Franka Winchester

We wrapped up 2013 in our previous article by providing you with a number of tips and ideas about closing out the company year and some helpful processes for beginning the New Year.  One of the processes we discussed was to schedule a strategy session for the New Year in which opportunities for growth and budget planning is discussed.  There may be a number of effective ways to enhance your funding and financial flexibility, or restructure a few things to increase your cash flow…and that could be just the ticket you need.

For example, if your receivables aren’t turning fast enough, you might find that you are not in a position to capitalize on opportunities for expansion.  The climate in Middle Market financing has become one that is now extremely advantageous to the borrower since so much focus has shifted to rebuilding the economy and an abundance of lenders are competing vigorously for new business.

In deciding which type of debt financing is most advantageous to you, it is helpful to understand the different types of financing structures and their basic definitions.

  • Cash Flow Loans:  During the economic boom, these loans were common and made based on expected cash flow.  There is very little emphasis on collateral value tied to securing these loans, but instead they are based on financial maintenance covenants that must be met on an ongoing basis.  These covenants include stipulations such as minimum EBITDA requirements, lev
    erage restrictions and fixed charge coverage ratios.  These loans are no longer as popular in the lower Middle Market due to the challenges that many smaller companies have had in meeting these types of covenants.
  • Asset-Based Loans (ABL):  Since it has become more difficult for companies to meet the covenant requirements of Cash Flow Loans, the structure of ABL loans has become more appealing.  Often, the covenants of these loans only become effective in the case of default or when excess availability falls below a specified amount.  These loans are generally secured by collateral representing all the assets of the borrower.  The assets include inventory, accounts receivables, intellectual and investment properties (depending on the industry) as well as property, plant and equipment (PP&E).  These loans typically require frequent reporting on the composition off assets securing the loan in the form of a borrowing base calculation which monitors collateral levels.  This required reporting goes beyond that which is customarily necessitated for other types of loans.
  • Second Lien Loans:  These loans are a form of secured financing where the lender holds a secondary security position in the collateral of a senior lender who maintains a first security position in all the assets of a borrower.  There is still an expectation of timely repayment, however, in the case of default, the security position of a second lien lender ranks behind the senior lender’s interest in the collateral.  Their right to enforce against the collateral is often restricted by an inter-creditor agreement.  These loans are generally offered by finance companies desiring higher yields with some perceived level of protection from the collateral.  These loans are generally more expensive than first lien loans, although due to the security provided by the second lien, they tend to have a lower cost than mezzanine loans, equity financing or high yield offerings.
  • Subordinated Debt:  This form of debt is generally unsecured and ranks behind every other debt provider in a company’s capital structure and is only ahead of equity capital when determining the order of a borrower’s repayment obligations    It is generally used to finance the expansion of a company during a significant period of growth.    Subordinated debt can incorporate a mix of debt and equity financing and gives senior lenders comfort that are investors that rank below them in a company’s capital structure.  This form of debt is generally the most expensive type of borrowing and can result in the dilution of existing equity investors if there is an equity component in the transaction and specific milestones are achieved by the company during the term of the loan such as revenue growth and profitability measures, or conversely in the event of a loan default.

There are several other forms of Middle Market financing including Senior-Secured Loans, Term B Loans, High-Yield Offerings, Factoring and Unitranche.  In order to best evaluate the needs of your company and your current situation, it may be advantageous to get some outside input.  Consider scheduling a complimentary consultation with one of our professionals at PCG, where we specialize in evaluating your debt financing needs and finding the right  funding solution for your company.


Posted in Blog, Business Growth, Strategic Development | 1 Comment

Mastering Your Year-end Processes

Posted on by Franka Winchester

Another year behind us and…and the details are important…

Here we are again at the end of another year.  The prospects of new opportunities in the coming year are pending and as we look back over the current year on what we accomplished in our businesses, it’s time to review our year-end processes so we can assure that we will close out strong.

If you are on a calendar fiscal year, your business must close out the books to prepare forYear End Business Processes tax return preparation and other tax planning year-end events.   While some businesses choose to keep up-to-date with these systems on a monthly or quarterly basis, for those who choose to only do so annually, this means it’s time to start preparing and finalizing your year-end processes.

It is vital when closing the books on another year in business that we make sure all key elements have been addressed because once the books are closed, it can be extremely challenging to go back and change the information…especially with our “oh-so-beloved” taxing agencies.

Here are a few important points to help ensure that you haven’t left anything out and can close out your business year in confidence:

  • Reconcile bank accounts – Go through each of your bank accounts and make sure that the numbers you have in your accounting program match the balances of the statements.  If they don’t match up, there may be errors, double entries or uncleared checks that have to be reviewed or corrected.
  • Complete your invoicing – Review that you have sent out invoices for any products sold, tasks completed or services you have rendered in the current year.
  • Record supplier invoices – Double-check that you have entered all of the invoices from of your suppliers or vendors and operating expenses.  There may be some sitting in your inbox, or you may have missed payments. Some of them can wait until January it will depend on you due dates and strategy of moving expenses to one or the other year.
  • Write off bad debts - Unfortunately, in today’s economy, not all of your customers are able (or willing) to pay their bills.  If you do happen to have some customers who will most likely never be able to pay, you might want to consider writing those off as bad debts.
  • Run reports to compare this year to previous years – To confirm that you haven’t missed anything, compare the preliminary reports for this year with the reports for last year.  The best way to see this year’s discrepancies is to run the report by month and review for consistency.  Of course, things change over the years, just be sure there is a logical explanation. If you find a discrepancy, you can look deeper to find out what might have been overlooked.
  • Record depreciation - You must account for depreciation if your business has fixed assets.  You can consult your accountant to make sure that this is done properly if this applies to you.
  • Address prepaid expenses - Some businesses choose to prepay for certain services such as insurance.  When the prepayment is made, it is recorded as an ‘asset’.  It will need to be reclassified as an expense.  Take a look at any prepaid expenses and adjust your records accordingly.
  • Close out owner’s draw - Any money withdrawn from the company for personal use must be accounted for in an equity account.
  • Begin the 1099 process - Subcontractors must receive their 1099 forms by January 31.  Start gathering together the information now to save extra time and headaches as that deadline approaches.
  • Recording mileage - If you have used your personal vehicle to do running for your business, don’t forget to record the mileage.  There are deductions you can claim for those expenses.

It may seem like a lot of technical information but getting everything in order now will help you to make sure that you aren’t caught scrambling as you get down to the wire and that you neither over or underpay the IRS or state tax agencies when tax day rolls around. The task of closing the books is typically performed by a company controller – but as a business owner you may want to be aware of the process and available for questions.



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Great Expectations…Creating your Employee Handbook

Posted on by Franka Winchester

If you are in business, chances are that you have at least one employee.  In today’s litigioushow to create an employee handbook for hr procedures society, it’s often desirable to have a clear outline of expectations of employees and company offerings.  One way to establish these expectations is through the creation of an employee handbook detailing the employment laws, policies, conduct of business practices, and benefits.

While verbal communication to employees is crucial, it is very important to create a clear definition of policies and procedures in writing.  This allows for protections by outlining labor laws, hours of work, overtime pay, the physical working conditions and expectations of employees.  In order to make sure that all employees are aware of the terms of employment and to avoid any appearance of impropriety or partiality, delivering a handbook and having each employee sign for it upon acceptance of employment is a wise practice to put in place.

What should be included when you create an employee handbook?

Creating an employee handbook may seem overwhelming, however, the majority of labor laws are standard rules that vary from location and city and the company specific items are the rules by which you will govern your business. Listed below are a few examples of areas that are important to decide and then communicate to create a standard culture of your choice.

  • About the company:  What is your company’s history? What is your mission statement? And what are the goals you hope to attain? What work culture are you creating?
  • Compliance with federal rules:  Every company with at least 15 employees falls under federal guidelines and must comply with the regulations relating to equal opportunity employment, and non-harassment/non-discrimination.  It is also wise in this section to outline the expectations of a drug-free workplace.
  • Benefits:  The new ACA regulations and various other ordinances in your area now require benefits to be offered.  This section is where you will outline health insurance benefits, how vacation rules work and how your company deals with sick leave.
  • Employee Status:   This is where you will define how an employee is classified (full-time, part-time, on call), pay periods and how they can expect to be paid.Work Performance:  It is important to explain how each employee will be evaluated and the expectations for their positions.
  • Discipline and termination:  If an employee is acting in a way that is contradictory to the policies of the company or legal limits, it’s important to have the grounds for disciplinary action outlined, the procedures for pursuing those actions and the procedures for termination.
  • Acknowledgment of receipt:  In order to make sure that there is a record of the employee receiving the handbook, it’s important to have them sign a ‘handbook acknowledgement form’.  The following disclaimers should be included: acknowledgment that this is not an employment contract, designation of at-will relationship, and the company’s right to revise or terminate any policies at any time, for any reason.

There are some great online resources for how to create an employee handbook.  In addition, it would be wise to work with  an HR professional to assist with policy creation, benefits offerings, and bringing local expertise to the table as the law varies by location.  A good HR consultant has the experience to discuss with you options and industry standards and creative ways to create a good benefit package and culture.

In order to obtain the maximum benefits from your employee handbook, it is vital that those policies outlined in the handbook are consistent with the actions of the company.  This will provide you with protection should any legal actions or disputes arise.

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