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Understand The Numbers

To ensure the health of your business, you need to understand the numbers behind your expenses and revenue.

If you’re like many small business owners, you probably have a somewhat rudimentary understanding of business accounting. But wrapping your head around the numbers, especially for those math-avoidant types, can be the least favorite part of owning a business. And while it may seem easiest to focus in on a few vital tasks, experts insist that all elements of business accounting are important.

All the accounting tasks have to be understood. Small business owners need to achieve an understanding of cash flow, revenue and expenses and how all of these work together. They need to gain a working understanding of the basics of small business accounting, preferably by taking a small business, rather than a general, accounting class.

In addition to the basics of small business accounting, a small business class will also provide insight about income, cost of goods, expenses, assets and liability, and equity/net worth. Everything a small business owner will do will fit into one of those five categories one way or the other. Then, when the numbers are plugged in, they can use this information to budget and plan and manage their cash flow.

One of the main reasons small businesses fail is due to the tendency to over-project income and under-project expenses. So, comprehending the numbers is necessary to appropriately manage the health of your business—it’s the only way you’ll understand how you’re actually doing, and if you’re on target with your projections or need to make adjustments.

While accounting software is an incredible tool, it doesn’t let you off the hook. You shouldn’t do anything with this software until you have an understanding of small business accounting. You need to understand what numbers go under what category or you won’t be able to set it up properly. Plus, you also need to understand what the accounting software is doing.

While accounting is critical, it isn’t an aspect of your operation that needs to fall entirely into your lap. There may be someone on your staff who can manage the day-to-day bookkeeping, or you can outsource certain pieces to an accounting firm, especially end-of-the-year essentials. Regardless of how you approach specific tasks, though, the key is to take steps to build a broad awareness of the fundamentals. Whether you enroll in a class at a local college or online, get schooled by a friend or read one of many available books, don’t underestimate the importance of truly understanding the numbers and how they play a role in every aspect of your business.

By Manta

Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios: Michigan's #1 Graphic Design, Web Design, & Digital Advertising Agency 

Let's Get Social | http://fivensonstudios.com | (734) 224-9696 | Info@FivensonStudios.Com

Quote Of The Day

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

We’ve all woken up to mornings where we have a to-do list longer than our arms. In 12 words, Walt sums up the best thing to do when we realize we’ve got a crazy day ahead. Stop focusing on each individual task you have to do and just start doing something. Before you know it that crazy long list will be a lot more manageable and will soon be completed.

Fivenson Studios is based in #AnnArbor, #Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in #logo and webpage design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios: Michigan's #1 Graphic Design, Web Design, & Digital Advertising Agency 

Let's Get Social | http://fivensonstudios.com | (734) 224-9696 | Info@FivensonStudios.Com

Legal Mistakes to Avoid

Don’t put your business at risk with these common legal missteps.

You work hard to make your small business distinct from other similar operations—especially those in the same industry and/or serving the same type of clientele—after all, differentiation is how you make your business stand out. But when it comes to small business legal blunders, you probably have more in common with your cohorts than you think.

There are many legal missteps for small business owners. We have narrowed it down to the five most common.

  1. Taking a do-it-yourself approach
    Sure, you can get free legal documents on the Internet, but how do you know what you’re downloading is correct, that it contains everything it should and if the wording is appropriate? And once you have it, do you even know what it says? After all, legalese isn’t a language everybody speaks fluently.
  2. Not getting it in writing
    Now is not the time to go old-school and take an oral agreement or a handshake approach. Yes, oral agreements can be binding, but good luck proving the terms of the agreement or that it even existed. Your rock-solid deal can quickly devolve into you said/they said situation, possibly leaving you on the losing end. An additional advantage of getting everything in writing is that the terms are laid out for everyone to evaluate. And later, if there’s a dispute, you’ll have one written document to refer to, rather than individual memories.
  3. Playing it fast and loose with employees
    You can avoid potential legal issues with employees by simply playing it by the book. Unfortunately, this happens a lot. Employers get into trouble by cutting corners when it comes to pay, hours, conditions of employment and withholding taxes. This can cause a lot of legal trouble for the employer, but it’s also just bad business.
  4. Not having a buy-sell agreement
    If you have co-owners or co-founders, a buy-sell agreement covers what will happen if one of them dies, becomes disabled or ill, wants to sell, goes through a divorce and so on. You need to clarify all of this when everyone is happy, healthy and on good terms. It’s much harder to reach an agreement or achieve a satisfying outcome when the situation has changed or become dire and fraught with emotion.
  5. Avoiding your lawyer
    We recommend setting an appointment with your attorney at least once a year. Think of this like an annual physical for your business. Providing your attorney with a clear picture—whether you’re expanding, adding new products, entering a new territory or market, or having issues with employees—will ensure all legal angles are covered. There are two sayings that apply here. One is that 'what you don’t know can hurt you.’ The other is that ‘you don’t know what you don’t know.’ So, take your lawyer to lunch once a year to talk about the business. And here’s a professional tip: If you buy lunch, they probably won’t charge you for the time.

By Manta

Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios: Michigan's #1 Graphic Design, Web Design, & Digital Advertising Agency 

Let's Get Social | http://fivensonstudios.com | (734) 224-9696 | Info@FivensonStudios.Com

THE RISE OF DARK SOCIAL

WHAT IS DARK SOCIAL?

The term dark social was coined by Alexis C (a Senior Editor at The Atlantic) in an article written in 2012.  So arguably, this is actually a relatively old concept. However, it is only just now that marketers are starting to take notice, and rightly so.

Simply, dark social refers to any content that is shared outside of the public eye (i.e. privately), and therefore outside of what can be measured by web analytics.  I can confidently assume that every person who reads this article will have shared articles or pages through the medium of dark social, most likely because you don’t want the entire world to know that you find “25 things people do when nobody is looking” so entertaining or that you think that “10 things all single girls do” is so uncannily relevant to you.  In fact, it is such a popular way of sharing content that dark social is now responsible for nearly 84% of all outbound sharing.

The most common dark social platforms are:

– Email

– Native Mobile Apps – e.g. Facebook and Instagram

– Messaging apps and Texts – Such as Whatsapp and FB Messenger

However, 90% of social marketing investment is on public platforms, meaning that dark social could be a huge opportunity that businesses currently aren’t accounting for.

WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?

1. Dark social has a monumental impact on traffic. RadiumOne reported that in the last 18 months onsite shares via dark social jumped from 69 to 84% of all shares globally.

2. It is a great marketing opportunity to truly get to know your audience. If you can get familiar with your audiences’ dark social habits you can get detailed representations of your consumer's true interests.

3. A unique demographic that is hard to reach on public social channels. “According to RadiumOne’s research, 46 percent of consumers age 55 and older share only via dark social, as opposed to those in the 16 to 34 age group, where only 19 percent do so.” (Source: https://blog.hootsuite.com/dark-social/)

The impact of dark social is also widespread.  It doesn’t just affect certain e-commerce industries or the blogging community, most industries ranging from personal finance to food and drink are affected, with automotive category ranked the highest at 82.4%, followed by finance (72.1%) FMCG (61%) and retail (56.3%).

Just to get a clear idea of how big a slice of the sharing pie social has, take a look at the below chart from RadiumOne’s study:

If you have ten minutes and are interested in the subject, take a look at the RadiumOne study here – it is an informative read.

SO HOW CAN BUSINESSES MAKE THE MOST OF IT?

There is no 100% fool-proof way of tracking activity in dark social, as, after all, it is private. So the ability to track and join in would be contradictory in nature.  I fear if a genius brain out there manages to crack it, it would dilute the very reason which makes the platform so powerful in the first place.  However below are some tips and tricks that can help along the way that won’t breach dark socials’ privacy credentials.

1. Link shorteners. Shortened URLs can encourage people to share using trackable links. Tools from Google, Bit.ly, and HootSuite can be used to create the links and they supply accompanying analytics on the URLs performance.  Short links are more convenient and easier to cut and paste encouraging avid dark social users to share.  Brands can also use campaign-specific shortened URLs to identify which audiences are engaging most and use the data to create valuable audience segments to target.

2. Brand Presence. Make sure your brand presence is interweaved throughout all content so if anything does get cut, copied and shared, it is still clear who is responsible for the piece.  The last thing you want is to create a groundbreaking article of viral content that gets snipped down and shared and then snowballs across the social media landscape missing any reference for who is responsible for it.

3. Making it personal; shifting towards conversation marketing. This increasing response to one-to-one personal conversation and sharing that we see in dark social has introduced the opportunity for the increasing popularity of Chatbots.  Many businesses are now recognizing Chatbots as more than just CRM platforms. They could soon become the central point to customer services, brand personality and importantly the path to purchase, as this is clearly an environment where people are active – and comfortably – engaging with brands and content.  To understand more on Chatbots there is an article with accompanying slides here that is worth a look.

4. Google Analytics and coding.   “Creating an advanced segment in Google Analytics that tracks visitors who come to your website via direct search, but don’t go through your homepage (Social Media Today has detailed instructions on how to do this).

You can also track dark social using web tools like GetSocial.ioSharethis, and Po.st. These tools allow you to track copy and paste sharing by adding small snippets of code to your website.

Another way businesses can track where cut-and-pasted-link traffic is coming from is by attaching URM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes to all of their URLs.” (http://marketingzen.com/darksocialhowtodeal/)

Overall the best thing that businesses can do about dark social is, simply, be aware of it.  Use easy to share links, make sure your content is full of your branding and make sure your tech and data guy are on point.  Beyond that, it’s about applying a certain level of common sense to your planning and strategy; acknowledge that your audience will more than likely be sharing on dark social, so make it easy for them and if you see a sudden spike in traffic that is unaccounted for, you now know where it may be coming from.

By Lbbotson

Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios: Michigan's #1 Graphic Design, Web Design, & Digital Advertising Agency 

Let's Get Social | http://fivensonstudios.com | (734) 224-9696 | Info@FivensonStudios.Com

Happy Spring Equinox

When is the Spring Equinox?

Good news for those counting down the days until warmer weather – the 2017 spring equinox is now here, taking place at 10.28am GMT on March 20.

This is the time when the sun passes the celestial equator and days become longer – no more going to work in pitch darkness. For some March 20 marks the first official day of spring – but meteorologists argue that it’s actually March 1st

What is the Vernal Equinox?

The Vernal Equinox is another name given to the Spring Equinox and labels the March Equinox is the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the March Equinox is called the Autumnal Equinox.

Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios: Michigan's #1 Graphic Design, Web Design, & Digital Advertising Agency 

Let's Get Social | http://fivensonstudios.com | (734) 224-9696 | Info@FivensonStudios.Com

5 Fundamental Reasons Your Business Can Fail

The importance of systems in business is well known, but even in great businesses, they can fail. While the outcomes can range from minor inconvenience to catastrophic, the causes of failure come down to one or a combination of 5 fundamental reasons.

Fault in Design

As all systems are created by human beings, it is highly likely that they will contain faults. The more complex the system the more likely that is the case. This means that systems should be thoroughly tested before they are made live, preferably by someone not involved in their development, as developers can have blind spots. Pilot programs are often used to test systems in a live environment before a major rollout so any faults detected will have limited impact.

The good news is that in many systems there is inbuilt redundancy (which creates inefficiencies- a topic for another day), so a fault in one system may be picked up by another in the workflow process, but even with redundancy, you can have multiple point failures, which may be rare, but can be devastating.

Change in the internal environment

A system may have been functioning well for some time, but when there are organizational changes, this can affect workflow processes, particularly when roles change. A person who was previously responsible for checking progress may have other duties and a gap in responsibilities with the new structure appears.

New technology can also affect the functioning of existing processes. While often introduced for productivity reasons, there may not have been a review of the impact on other parts of the workflow. Any change in the internal environment must include a review of the effects on existing systems.

Change in the external environment

The external environment is changing all the time with the needs and demands of suppliers and customers, regulatory changes and general societal changes. Often a business can be caught by surprise when what has been accepted practice is no longer. Customers may change their specifications, suppliers may change their terms and governments are forever changing the rules. Business inputs and outputs can all be affected by external changes which can disrupt the internal procedures of a business. It is incumbent on the owners of each system in a business to be aware of the external changes and to update their systems accordingly before failure occurs through lack of attention.

Inadequate Training

It doesn’t matter how good your systems are and how well documented, problems will occur if the staff doesn't know how to use them. Mistakes will happen if there is inadequate training. For each new system, there should be a communication strategy to let staff know, what has changed and how to follow the new process.

For new staff, there needs to be an induction procedure and mentoring to ensure that the systems are understood as well as how they have positioned in the workflow process their inputs and their outputs.

Inadequate Reporting

Systems may be carefully developed and rolled out but problems can still arise in spite of all these precautions. Whether there are problems with the design, environmental changes, or training issues there needs to be a mechanism for measuring system outcomes and compliance. When problems occur there should be a process to track them, understand root causes and see they are corrected. Often staff gets used to shortcuts which most of the time get the job done but set up failure when there is an event that only occurs rarely for which the system was specifically designed to mitigate. A reporting system should audit both outcomes and compliance, without which management will only be aware of a problem when disaster strikes!

No system can last forever and there should be a regular review of the performance and relevance of all systems even if no problems have been identified. The frequency will depend on how critical the system is to the business.

While each system should have an owner responsible for its maintenance, the responsibility to drive overall system integrity and performance lies with the owners. That is, they must create a Business Management System which enables them to manage their business by reports. This will greatly reduce, if not entirely eliminates the risk of system failure.

Written by Chapman

 

Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios: Michigan's #1 Graphic Design, Web Design, & Digital Advertising Agency 

Let's Get Social | http://fivensonstudios.com | (734) 224-9696 | Info@FivensonStudios.Com

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Your Guide to Deals, Freebies, History and Fun Facts.

Here's a list of some of the promotions being offered up by national chains:

Krispy Kreme.The doughnut chain is dying its Original Glazed green for Friday only — and spelling it "O'riginal" for the day.

McDonald's. The beloved Shamrock Shake is joined by four others this year — the Chocolate Shamrock Shake, the Shamrock Chocolate Chip Frappé, the Shamrock Mocha and the Shamrock Hot Chocolate.

TGI Friday's. The chain is offering  $3 green beer and $5 Jameson Irish whiskey drinks at participating restaurants.

Dunkin' Donuts. There's will be a shamrock sprinkle doughnut and a yeast-ring doughnut frosted with chocolate icing and shamrock sprinkles.

Baskin-Robbins. Check out the green ice cream cake, decorated with four leaf clovers, a rainbow and a pot of gold.

Burger King. The Oreo Irish Mint Shake is the St. Patrick's take on the Classic Oreo Cookie Shake that's already being offered by the fast food giant. It was introduced in January.

Jersey Mike's: The 1,200-plus sub shops are offering double points for their Shore Points rewards program on Friday.

Tim Hortons: Customers will get a free mint-chip Timbit with the purchase of any beverage on Friday while supplies last. They are — you guessed it — green.

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY

St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the Roman Catholic feast day of the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick died on March 17, 461. But did you know that he wasn’t even Irish?

HISTORY:

Traveling along the Irish countryside you can see many shades of green, but knights in the Order of St. Patrick wore a color known as St. Patrick’s blue. Green has been used by supporters of Irish independence who used the color to represent their cause in the 18th century and later. Undeniably, green is used to denote Ireland today but that has nothing to do with St. Patrick.

Interestingly, Patrick’s birth name was Maewyn, born in Roman Britain, kidnapped into slavery at age 16 and brought to Ireland. He escaped to a monastery in Gaul (France) where he converted to Christianity. He returned to Ireland in 432 as a missionary. Patrick ultimately became a bishop and after his death was named Ireland’s patron saint. Celebrations in Ireland were understated, though. When the Irish emigrated to the U.S., they created the bigger celebrations and parades known today.

It wasn’t until early in the eighteenth century when the Irish held their first St. Patrick Day parades. The celebrations became a way for the Irish to connect with their roots after they moved to America.

Fun Facts:

The shamrock: According to legend St. Patrick used the three-leaf clover (or shamrock) to explain the Trinity. The plant commonly sold today as the shamrock is usually triforium minus, a small yellow-flowered clover with four leaves.

Dyeing the river green: The practice of dyeing the river green started in Chicago in 1962, when city officials decided to dye a portion of the Chicago River green.

Corn beef and cabbage: This is an Irish-American dish. 19th-century Irish-American immigrants were so poor they couldn’t afford certain meals. On St. Patrick’s Day, the best meal they could pay for was beef and cabbage. It became a staple for the holiday for decades, However, for many Irish people, Corned Beef is now too “poor” or plain to eat on a holiday, so they routinely make something more celebratory.

But, how did we come to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the United States? North America has only observed this holiday since the late eighteenth century. Although not a legal holiday in the USA, St. Patrick’s Day is widely recognized and celebrated throughout the country with Irish festivals, parades, food like corn beef and cabbage, excessive Guinness beer drinking, prominent displaying of the color green and Irish traditions. On any given day 5.5 million pints of Guinness, the famous Irish stout brand, are consumed around the world. But on St. Patrick’s Day, that number more than doubles to 13 million pints, said Beth Davies Ryan, global corporate-relations director of Guinness. In addition, the consumption of green beer has become part of the tradition.

Unfortunately, few St. Patrick’s Day revelers have a clue about St. Patrick, the historical figure, according to modern day experts on the subject. But now you can offer some valid insight about this popular nationwide party day, and while you’re at it please ensure that a designated driver is identified if the celebration involves a location away from your home.

Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios: Michigan's #1 Graphic Design, Web Design, & Digital Advertising Agency 

Let's Get Social | http://fivensonstudios.com | (734) 224-9696 | Info@FivensonStudios.Com

Cash Flow Strategy Is The Lifeblood of Any Business

Business owners often underestimate their needs by assuming cash will come in sooner or that bills are going to come in later.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, but especially so for smaller operations—it’s what keeps the doors open. We see cash flow as fuel for your business. If you run out of fuel, you’re not going anywhere. Cash flow is essential for growth. There’s not a single business that has been able to grow without it.

Yet, as integral as cash flow is to success, many small business owners mishandle this aspect of their operations—a mistake that puts businesses at serious risk. Owners often underestimate needs by assuming cash will come in sooner than it actually does or that bills are going to come in later than they do. It’s also common for owners to not properly manage their line of credit or access to loans. It’s often better to take advantage of credit with low-interest rates when it’s not needed, rather than seek it when you’re up against a time-sensitive situation. Another concern is confusing cash flow with profitability. People think if they made a sale and that it’s profitable, then everything is great. But what they really should be looking at is the cash flow behind the sale.

When it comes to cash flow, timing is everything. You might make a nice profit on a particular contract, but what if that contract doesn’t pay until 90 days after the work is completed? How are you going to pay your bills in the meantime? If you’re not careful, small mistakes can wipe out your profits.

As you evaluate your strategy, be sure to:

  • Consider how much cash is coming in. Create a simple cash flow model to illustrate when cash is coming in and when bills are due. Prepare this weekly. Remember, there will always be a percentage of accounts receivables that come in late.
  • Take advantage of the credit. Get situated credit-wise before you need it.
  • Examine cash flow before you hire. Never hire ahead of cash flow.
  • Incentivize customers to pay on time. Offer lower pricing if customers pay on delivery, and add a surcharge if they want to pay later.

Managing cash flow takes awareness, organization, and preparedness. But if you’re caught off guard and you think there’s going to be a cash flow problem, don’t automatically take out a loan. Evaluate if there are other strategies you can deploy first. Negotiating with vendors. For example, if you’ve been paying upon delivery, see if they’ll allow you to pay in 30 days. Additionally, if cash flow is becoming a chronic issue, take a look at your pricing—it may be too low.

Above all, don’t let cash flow cause repeated panic, and use it as a starting point to control what you can and prepare for the unknown. When small business owners get intimidated, they tend to ignore what’s intimidating them. But ignoring cash flow could do you in. A business could actually be on a path to growth and they could still have to shut their doors because they didn’t manage their cash flow.

Manta

Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios: Michigan's #1 Graphic Design, Web Design, & Digital Advertising Agency 

Let's Get Social | http://fivensonstudios.com | (734) 224-9696 | Info@FivensonStudios.Com

Good things happen to those who hustle

Quote of the day

Good things happen to those who hustle. Chuck Noll

Some days, you just need to be reminded why you started in the first place.

What drives you to get up in the morning and chase your dreams? Why are you working 80 hour weeks? Why are you at home working when you could be out partying or hanging out with friends? It’s easy to get lost in your own head and allow procrastination to put your dreams in a standstill. Always remember why you started in the first place.

Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios: Michigan's #1 Graphic Design, Web Design, & Digital Advertising Agency 

Let's Get Social | http://fivensonstudios.com | (734) 224-9696 | Info@FivensonStudios.Com

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Name: Christopher
Phone: (734) 224-9696
Address: 1214 S. University Ave Unit 4075 Ann Arbor, MI 48104

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