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Five Browser Productivity Tips

by Sean on 04/04/14

Most of us spend a lot of time browsing the Internet, and that means using browser software. Google chrome is the most popular browser with roughly 40 percent market share. Internet Explorer follows with about a 30 percent share and Firefox is third with less than 20 percent.

Since most people use Google Chrome, we'll use that browser to describe our five productivity tips. If you don't use Chrome, you can still look for the features we list on your browser of choice.

Better with Bookmarks

Do you have a half dozen or so sites that you like to visit every day? If so, bookmark them on a toolbar so that you have one-click access. In Chrome, click the icon with three horizontal lines that is located on the web address bar at the top of your browser. We'll call this the Chrome Commands button from now on. Mouse over "Bookmarks," and make sure "Show Bookmarks Bar" is checked.

Type in your favorite site URL. To add it as a bookmark on your bookmarks bar, click the star on the right side of the web address box. It will turn gold, and then you can name your page as well as select whether you want it more prominently in the bar or simply in your list of bookmarks. Repeat this for each of your most visited sites.

Now that all of your sites are listed on your bookmarks bar, you can visit them in one click.

Enlarge the Page

If a page is too small and you want to enlarge the entire thing, you can do so with your mouse wheel. On your keyboard, hold down the CTRL key and roll your mouse wheel away from you while you're on a web page. The page will get larger. Roll your mouse wheel toward you to reverse the effect and make the page smaller.

You can also customize your fonts by going into Chrome Commands, Settings, Advance Setting, and Web Content. You can find your font options there.

Download Redux

Do you need something you downloaded earlier today and forgot where you put it? Access it again here by typing this into the web address box or selecting "Downloads" from the Chrome Commands. Hey, even better, if you need this a lot, make it a bookmark: chrome://downloads/

If you're a history buff - that is, if you closed a browser screen and find you want to re-visit that page, then look for the History command under the Chrome Commands button. It's super-handy and will save lots of time when you need to backtrack.

Autofill

Tired of filling out forms? Chrome will do it for you by remembering certain fields and matching them up with their form fieldnames. You can have Chrome remember addresses and credit cards; however we can't really recommend the latter for security reasons. Manage this feature and its settings by clicking the Chrome Commands buttons and Settings. Scroll to the end and look for Advanced Settings, then look for the Autofill area and Manage Autofill Settings.

Instant Dictionary

While browsing, have you ever come across a word or phrase you don't know or want to know more about? If so, highlight it right there on the web page and then right-click. Select "Search Google for the phrase you highlighted" to bring up the information you want.

Most of us have never had a formal class on using web browsers, but it's not a bad idea to think about tricks to make usage easier. Hopefully, these tips will help you discover a little more about the browser you use every day.

How Painless Is Your New Customer Experience?

by Sean on 03/20/14

Is your business easy to do business with? Or is it difficult? The answer could impact your revenue as well as your reputation for service. Here are a few tips to help you stand in your customer's shoes for just a few minutes to answer these questions.

First Impressions

What is the first image of your business that your future customer sees? Is it your website? A sign in your office window? An ad? Whatever it is, take a look at it with fresh eyes, like you've never seen it before. You may have several images to consider if clients approach your business in many different ways.

What do you notice first? Is the website simple or cluttered? Is your sign rusty and crooked or new and pleasing to the eye? Do you need to make any changes based on what you see?

Voice Time

If a customer calls, how many times does the phone ring before it's picked up? Does the voice sound inviting and excited that someone called, or is it as if you were just interrupted? Or worse, did they get a recording?

If they walk in face-to-face, how are they greeted? What does your waiting room look like?

Service

What is the interaction like with you? Are you able to answer the prospect's questions? Do they feel comfortable with you or intimidated? What do you suspect it's like for your clients?

If the prospect becomes a client, what do they have to do? Are there lots of forms to complete? How organized are you in getting the client started and serviced for the first time? Are you respectful of their time if they are in a hurry?

Mystery Shoppers

You've probably heard of mystery shoppers who are hired to give their opinions of what their client experience was like. They go through a similar process, evaluating every client touch point and suggest ways to make it a smoother experience.

Almost every business can benefit from periodically reviewing the client experience to discover where the weakest links are and how they can be fixed. Ask yourself these questions to see where you can improve your client experience and make it easy and pleasant to do business with you.

Five Ways to Go Green With Your Accounting

by Sean on 03/06/14

With St. Patrick's Day and spring arriving, March is a great month to have "green" on the mind. There are green shamrocks, green beer, new green vegetation, and there's even green accounting too. Here are five ways to make your accounting a little more green:

Business Receipts

When you spend money on your business, ask for an emailed receipt rather than a paper one if you have the option. More and more vendors are offering this as a service. Then when the receipt comes in your email, you can forward it to your bookkeeper and/or upload it to your accounting system.

Smile for the Camera

If the vendor does not offer an emailed receipt, do the next best thing: take a picture of the receipt with your cell phone. Some accounting systems allow you to upload the receipt right from your phone, and if you don't have that feature, you can always email it or upload it to your PC.

PDF Invoices

If you invoice customers, send a PDF invoice via email. More and more businesses are abandoning the snail mail and getting things to customers faster with email. They're getting paid faster, and speeding up your green is usually a good thing.

Online Banking

Many people adopted online banking about a decade ago. If you're still getting paper statements, you can get those stopped and download your statements once a month from your online account. It's better not to get your statement in the mail anymore anyway; it reduces your risk of identity theft from stolen mail.

Software and Supplies

When possible, purchase your software online and download it rather than making a gas-guzzling trip to the store and purchasing a box. You can also order your office supplies online and have them delivered. As long as you buy local, it should be a green purchase, and it will save you tons of time too.

These five ideas will help your accounting become a little more green.

Quick Tip: Using Memorized Transactions

by Sean on 02/24/14

Chances are, you have at least one recurring transaction each month, whether its a bill or invoice, or maybe a credit card or bank fee. Do you find yourself entering these transactions after-the-fact, days, weeks, or even months later than they occurred? These types of transactions are perfect candidates to be setup as memorized, or recurring transactions in your accounting program. You wont have to worry about trying to remember to enter them every month, and it's a quick, easy way to streamline your bookkeeping just a bit more. The next time you encounter one of these transactions, memorize it, and then you can forget about it!

How to Avoid Seasonal Bumps in Your Cash Flow

by Sean on 02/20/14

Many businesses operate with seasonal peaks and valleys. Retail stores just completed their busy holiday season. Construction contractors are busy when the weather is good. Accountants are very busy from January through April, but also experience a quarterly peak in July and October.

Your business may have its own calendar of busy and slow times. If your business goes through slow times, then your cash flow may suffer at certain times of the year. But having seasonal sales is only one of the reasons for a bumpy cash flow.

You might also have a business where annual payments are made for many items such as equipment purchases, software licenses, insurance renewals, and other large costs. On the revenue side, it could be that your clients pay you annually, which can be hard to predict.

There are many solutions that can help to smooth out the seasonal bumps, and here are a few ideas for your consideration.

Plan for Prosperity

When income and expenses go up and down and up and down, it's really hard to know if you have enough money for obligations coming up. Creating a budget can help a great deal. Consider creating two budgets: one that shows the ups and downs and one that averages a year's income and expenses into twelve equal parts.

With both budgets, you'll be able to see which months will be deviating from average and by how much. From there, it's easy to create some forecasts so you can stay on top of your cash requirements.

Cash vs. Accrual Basis

It might help your business decision-making to convert your books from cash basis to accrual basis. This is a huge decision that should be made with an accounting and tax expert, as there are plenty of ramifications to discuss.

In some cases, the accrual basis of accounting will help keep those annual payments from sneaking up on you as 1/12 of the payment can be accrued on a monthly basis to a payables account. This also keeps your net income figure steadier from month to month.

If your clients prepay their accounts on a yearly basis, you can book the income monthly and keep the difference in a Prepaid account. This spreads your revenues out and recognizes them over time.

"Hiding" Money

If you feel accrual basis accounting is a little too much of a commitment, your accountant can still work with you to help you avoid the impulse of spending too much during the cash-rich busy season. Perhaps the excess cash can be put into a savings account until it's needed. You can draw out 1/12 each month as you need it. A little planning such as the above suggested forecasts will help you determine how much you can take out each month. You can even name the Savings account "Do Not Spend!" or "Save for a Rainy Day".

If it's just too tempting to have all that excess cash building up in the good times of the year, try one of the ideas above to take back cash flow control and smooth out those bumps.

 

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