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Five Things Your Alcohol Compliance Lawyer Wants You to Know

Five Things Your Alcohol Compliance Lawyer Wants You to Know

As an attorney who specializes in alcohol licensing fire drills, I have a standing wish list of things I desire alcohol producers knew about their compliance. Grab cup of coffee or other beverage, sit down and have a read about five things your alcohol compliance lawyer wants you to know.

 

ACCESS

Quick! Who has access to your home state license and TTB records? What about all the other states? Does this person have access to ‘all the things’ or just enough access to file reports and returns?  Not sure if anyone outside your long -suffering compliance person (internal or external) knows how to answer this question?

Not all access is created equal, and it is important to understand the difference.  The most common type of access is someone having a login and password to a state website. That access allows them to file alcohol related tax returns, submit brand registration, renew licenses, reset passwords (if you have the right email, more on that later), etc.  What that access does not usually allow them to do is talk to the state about specific questions related to your alcohol accounts.  This second type of access, usually linked to the officers, directors (the legal kind, not the job title) and owners, is like a certain movie character’s golden ticket.  It allows them an all access pass to get information, request changes and more.

Knowing who has what type of access is important if you want to make a change to the information on file or sign an application or renewal.  For example, if you have a winery in California and you want to get an additional license for your new tasting room, the person signing the forms must already be on file with the California ABC in connection with the winery license. If the one person associated with your winery license happens to be on an extended vacation, you will need to track them down to sign the forms (sometimes sending a mobile notary to their location) or wait until they return to move forward.

If trying to come up with the answers to my first set of questions made you break out into a cold sweat, it is probably time to audit your home state license and TTB Permits Online access. 

 

PAPERWORK

Do you have a copy of your home state license and TTB Basic Permit on site at your winery, distillery or brewery?  For example, if you are a California winery, the home state license is a pink piece of paper that should be on display at the winery and renewed every year.

Was that question easier that the first set?  Here is a harder one.  Do you have all the records of forms and applications filed in connection with those licenses? While many of the TTB records can be located online (with the proper access), not all home state regulators are as easy.  Sticking with the California winery example, if you want to see a copy of your ABC 257 (the premises diagram that shows where your operating boundaries are), you will need to take that up with the Custodian of Records in the ABC’s Sacramento office.

 

Protea Financial Create Email for Compliance

 

EMAIL

Remember my comment about emails above? Who receives email notices from state regulators about your licenses, brand registrations and tax filings?  Please create a ‘compliance@’ email or something similar right now. Really.  I mean it.  Grab a post it, make a note and stick it on your computer screen. Right. Now. Once you have created it, make it a priority to update all your online accounts with this new email address.

Why is this important? Because if the person connected to the email on file with the alcohol regulators wins the lottery and leaves the same day, all the notices, renewals and even the ever popular two factor authentication process is trapped in that old email.  While your IT rock stars may be able to grant you access to the old email for a period of time, that is only if someone thinks about it during the off-boarding process.  And no, turning on an ‘out of office’ from the old email directing the sender to the new ‘compliance@’ email address won’t work.  Many of these notices are sent from an automated/no-reply email address that simply doesn’t care that you never got around to taking this advice.

 

PASSWORDS AND LOGINS

Keep a record of the current usernames and passwords to state alcohol regulator websites and the TTB Permits Online system.  Keep it current.  Ideally, use a password program like LastPass, 1Password, MyGlue or something similar so that your IT team can add or share access to this information in a hurry if needed.  Remember that employee who won the lottery and left the same day?  What about the employee who has a family emergency and needs to be gone for an extended period of time?  Filing deadlines will not wait for them to come back to the office and regulators are not usually inclined to accept these excuses as part of a request to waive late filing penalties.

 

MAKE ALCOHOL COMPLIANCE LIVE IN MORE THAN ONE PLACE

While I would love to think that every single winery, brewery and distillery owner loves compliance like my team does, I suspect that is not the case. Alcohol compliance is a confusing and complex requirement in the United States – 50 states, 51 sets of rules. 

Try this- get to know the employee who handles alcohol compliance for your organization or who manages the relationship with your outside compliance resource.  Understand enough about their day job to not be intimidated or terrified if they decide to go on vacation during a busy part of the year.  Cross train some of their key job responsibilities so you have backup if needed.  Respect that they can be viewed as the hall monitor of your company– just enough authority to stop you in the hallway and ask for your hall pass, but not enough authority to make you remember to bring your hall pass with you the next time you step out of the classroom.

At the end of the day, you are responsible for the alcohol compliance at your company. Telling a regulator ‘but my compliance person quit or is out of the office’ is akin to saying ‘the dog ate my homework’ and will go over about as well you as think it might.

 

Protea Financial Alcohol Compliance

 

Need More Information?

Cronbach Law Group PC is a law firm located in Napa, California.  Our focus is helping our clients understand the complex world of alcoholic beverage regulation – 50 states, 51 sets of rules. Let us be your guide and keep your business priorities top of mind on along the way.  www.winedeal.law

Call Protea Financial to Find Out More Information

If you have any questions about compliance for your vineyard or winery, please reach out to us here at Protea Financial! We can recommend an alcohol compliance lawyer to help!

Protea Conversations: Chelsea Kurnick

Protea Conversations: Chelsea Kurnick

Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high quality out-sourced bookkeeping and accounting at an affordable price.  Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the workforce after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were previously overlooked.  Protea strives to represent people from all backgrounds and provide an environment for them to grow and succeed in a setting that provides the flexibility and acceptance of who they are as people.

We selected the name Protea because it is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of this striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.

Protea Conversations in 2022 will focus on positive transformation and representation from all backgrounds. We are broadening our Conversations with the hope that these conversations will continue to create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges leaders face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.

In March we spent some time with Chelsea Kurnick, the chair of Positive Images (PI). Positive Images is a grassroots nonprofit organization serving Sonoma County since 1990. This LGBTQIA+ Community Center hosts multiple weekly support groups, a youth leadership development program, mentorship opportunities, an LGBTQIA+ Library, resource and referral station, and a Transformation Station – a closet of free lightly-used clothing. They are proud to offer a warm, welcoming, and affirming environment for people of all ages to explore their individual identities, develop leadership skills, and contribute to our collective community. Positive Images staff lead LGBTQIA+ Cultural Competency Trainings and presentations that educate the greater community focusing on human connection, compassion, and inclusion. The vision is a Sonoma County where all LGBTQIA+ people are valued, compassionate community members, creating a just society.

Chelsea Rose Kurnick is a queer bisexual woman from southern California and has lived in Sonoma County since October 2017. She joined the board of Positive Images in 2018 after volunteering with the organization for about a year. With Jessica Carroll, she co-founded and facilitates the weekly Friday evening LGBTQIA peer support group. Chelsea knew Sonoma County well before moving, as she has worked in the wine industry for nearly 12 years. She spent more than three years doing public relations and digital marketing for a variety of Sonoma County tourism businesses and organizations. Chelsea is currently a development coordinator and film programmer for AVFilm.

 

Tell us about your journey from wine to marketing to nonprofit development?

I got interested in wine and spirits while working as a server at a fine dining restaurant during college. When I graduated, I decided to pursue my sommelier certificate and another certification from Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET). After several years in restaurants and bars, I felt eager for a change of pace, and started exploring what other careers might be available to someone with my specializations. I was lucky to find a PR and marketing agency that specializes in wine and tourism. They were expanding and needed an experienced writer with wine knowledge; my skills proved to be a perfect match. It was an exhilarating job which led me to travel all over the U.S. and, most frequently, to Sonoma Wine Country from my then home in Los Angeles.

I moved to Sonoma County full time on October 1, 2017. When I say that to anyone who lives here, their eyes widen, knowingly, because on October 8, 2017, the most destructive fire in California history (then) swept through Santa Rosa, taking human lives, leveling more than 5% of the homes in our county’s largest city and changing our lives forever.

That tragedy—and a political climate that threatened the rights and safety of queer people in the U.S.—impelled me toward some major life changes. As much as I enjoyed my marketing work, it was the right time for me to change course again. I began organizing arts events in support of causes that matter to me. It turned out that many of the skills I’d acquired in my PR and marketing job came in handy. Today, I work in development at an arts-based nonprofit called AVFilm and am learning new skills every day.

 

Protea Financial Protea Conversation Chelsea Kurnick

 

Tell us about your role with Positive Images and how you got involved?

Before I was invited to join PI’s board, I volunteered at our peer support group for youth and young adults. That program is fantastic and impactful — so much so that I wondered why queer and trans adults didn’t have our own peer support group. Together with PI’s Director of Programs Jessica Carroll, we co-founded a weekly adult group in 2018. Four years later, that group is thriving.

In my role as chair of our Board of Directors, I create the agendas and lead PI’s board meetings. I work on donor development, professional development opportunities for the staff and board, and outreach in the community. I am an experienced grant writer, so I also co-create grant and contract proposals for the organization. We’re in a big growth spurt right now, so there are a lot of moving parts to my role at PI.

 

Why is Positive Images important to you?

Our center is like a home to me and the community I find here are my chosen family. I’m fortunate to also have close relationships with my blood family, but that isn’t the case for many LGBTQIA+ people. Family and societal rejection of queer and trans people results in heightened risk for all sorts of hardships in life–from depression and suicidal ideation to job and housing insecurity and so much more. PI exists to affirm and celebrate LGBTQIA+ people in their identities and exploration thereof. Our trainings reduce stigma and increase empathy and understanding of LGBTQIA+ individuals and issues to foster a safer, more just world for us to exist in, while our direct services reduce feelings of isolation and provide life-saving support for queer and trans people in our community.

 

What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?

PI is my first board, so learning all of the pieces involved in governance has been a big job and is an ongoing process. I take a lot of continuing education courses in nonprofit leadership and board boot camps. Learning to delegate tasks effectively and to share the work is crucial to successful collaborative work, which doesn’t always come naturally to a person who has done a lot of freelancing and independent projects.

 

What are your short-term goals of your career and yourself?

This year, professionally, I’m focused on slowing down and working more strategically. Personally, I’m really trying to spend more time away from my phone and computer.

 

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?

In 2019, I took a workshop with the arts & equity consultant Beatrice L. Thomas. Bea presented a binary where they said that a talent is something you’re inherently good at and that gives you energy to do, whereas a skill is something you’ve had to learn and takes energy to do. Many jobs will require you to use a combination of your talents and your skills, but if you find yourself doing work that is mostly skills-based, you’re going to burn out. I reflect on this all the time.

 

Protea Financial Chelsea Kurnick Mentoring Protea Conversation

 

What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out on your career?

I guess this goes back to what I said about my present short-term goals – I wish someone had told me that often investing time upfront to learn something deeply often saves time in the future. Take time to research broader solutions rather than trouble-shooting in a vacuum.

 

What advice would you give to others to help them be better leaders?

Connect with and learn from others! Are there leaders or organizations you admire? Ask if you can meet with them and pick their brain. Leaders are usually flattered and delighted to share their knowledge with others.

 

Can you share something interesting about yourself that will provide insight into who you are outside of the professional space and your role with Positive Images?

Writing and art are still at the center of my life. When I’m not writing grants, I’m writing freelance journalism or poetry. In 2020, I got to teach a community workshop at the Museum of Sonoma County on ekphrasis – responding to a work of art through creative writing.

As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will donate to Positive Images (https://www.posimages.org/).

Call Protea Financial for More Information

If you have any questions, please reach out to us here at Protea Financial!

What Should I Be Doing Weekly For Bookkeeping Tasks For My Business?

What Should I Be Doing Weekly For Bookkeeping Tasks For My Business?

Bookkeeping is a time-consuming skill, and not one you can neglect. In fact, over 40% of small businesses managers and owners say their bookkeeping tasks are often pushed into the background. This is understandable, because small business owners have so much on their plates. From a business perspective, however, you must keep up to date with your bookkeeping tasks, or you risk shortchanging your business, which could mean a business loss. Here are some guidelines for tasks you need to finish by the end of each business week.

Those Annoying Bills

No one likes to pay bills, but as a small business owner, there are many bills that you need to pay in order to continue to do business successfully. In general, most bills fall into these categories:

    • Taxes: federal, state, local and payroll taxes are examples of tax bills. As a small business owner, you may want to pay your taxes monthly or quarterly, based on what works best for you.
    • Utilities: these are paid monthly, and they include internet, phone, electricity, and water.
    • Suppliers and inventory: most of these are upon receipt, net 10 days, or net 30 days.
  • Payroll
  • Rent or mortgage payment for your business: usually paid monthly

As a small business owner, it is very important that you stay on top of your bills. Here are some suggestions for making sure you pay bills on time.

First, you need to make sure all of your bills are entered into your accounting/bill pay software. Be sure and note all of the due dates from your bills, and add them to your software. You may want to keep a running calendar of when each bill is due. After you pay it, you can check the bill off.

Another suggestion you may want to try is to update your bills and pay dates on a regular basis, such as the close of the business day. While you’re updating, be sure you determine which bills are due upon receipt, and which bills are net 10, 30, or 60 days.

When you are able to keep careful track of your bills, you are ensuring your business stays open for years to come.

Control the Money: Incoming and Outgoing

One of the reasons businesses fail is because the business owner cannot keep records of cash flow effectively. Often, this happens because a business owner doesn’t keep accurate records of his or her cash flow. For example, a person who owns an automated car wash doesn’t keep their business account and their personal banking accounts separate, which leads to confusion and debt.

You need to control the money going out of your business. You can do this effectively on a weekly basis. Not checking the cash flow out of your business can cause trouble down the road. One hint: it never hurts to do an opening balance for your cash flow each day, and a closing balance each evening.  That way, you know exactly how much money is coming in and going out each day.

Many businesses run cash-only, while others don’t have cash deposits at all. If you are doing a cash business, you may want to make small deposits daily or three times per week. However, if you run an all-cash business, you will likely want to make daily deposits, so that your business doesn’t become the victim of a robbery. Cash is incredibly hard to track, and thieves take advantage of that to rob business owners.

Keep up with your invoices. You will want to send out invoices weekly, especially if you have customers who are slow about paying. If you know exactly what’s due, you’ll be able to manage your business money more easily. One way to help track your money more effectively is to have a special category for clients or customers who are frequently delinquent payers. In fact, you may want to hire someone to manage invoices of customers who are behind, and follow up with phone calls or emails to ensure payment.

Label Everything

If you are incredibly organized, you may already have a strategy for money management. Each pot of money you have to put aside for your business needs a label. This will make it easier to track your spending. Not sure how to accomplish this? Here are some ideas for how to label your money effectively.

One great idea to track spending is to give each item detail a color. That way, it will be easier to figure out your business expenses. This is a great idea for people who are visual learners, but the notion of color coding can work for many business owners.

Many platforms (such as Microsoft and Google) offer templates for business expenses. If you use a premade template, don’t forget to make the categories specific to your business. For example, if you don’t do payroll, there’s no reason for it to be one of your spending categories. Creating your own categories can make keeping track of your money easier.

Protea Financial Bookkeeping Tasks

Tracking Inventory Is Key

If you buy or sell anything—including services—you have inventory of some kind. Inventory is another area that directly impacts your business success. If you aren’t sure what inventory you have, and what inventory you have sold, you will not be in business for long. You need to keep track of your inventory, because your inventory is a money generator for many business owners. For example, if you have a popular product, you will need to keep it in stock to satisfy your customers. You may want to try a simple inventory form to help you keep your inventory current.

Also, there are different types of inventories. You may have raw materials that you use to make other products to sell. You may also have already-made goods to sell. If you have a very popular item for sale, you may order excess inventory to meet the demand. You need to keep track of each type of inventory you have at your business. If you have trouble keeping track of the types of inventory you have, it may be a good idea to keep a spreadsheet with all of your inventory types in one place.

There are also inventory control programs available for small business owners who are tech-savvy. However, many small business owners don’t feel they have the time to use a program to track all their inventory. While tracking inventory can be difficult and time-consuming, it is extremely important to your business. Tracking inventory gives you control of both your accounts receivable and payable, as well as protecting your business from fraud.

Run Reports Weekly

Be sure you run reports each week on your accounts payable and receivable. This report will help you project your week ahead. If you get behind on running reports, you may lose valuable business, which no business owner ever wants to have happen. Running weekly reports acts as a check up to see how your business is doing.

You may want to set aside a part of the day at the same time each week for report running. You may want to block that time off on your calendar so that it is dedicated to your business’ finances. If you have a time blocked off on your calendar, you will probably be more faithful with running your reports. Many business owners close their doors so that their employees don’t disturb them while they are working. 

Protea Financial Weekly Bookkeeping Tasks

Don’t Forget About Payroll

Unless you are your only employee, chances are you have to pay several employees—or hundreds of employees—on a regular basis. How do you manage payroll? Many small business owners leave their payroll to a payroll service, or to a software program. Even if you have payroll software, that doesn’t mean you can neglect checking your payroll. This is important for employee satisfaction as well as to prevent fraud. Small businesses lose millions of dollars yearly due to payroll fraud.

While you are running your accounts payable and accounts receivable reports, you may want to run a payroll report as well. Finding and fixing payroll mistakes early will save you time and headaches down the road.

Let Protea Financial Help with Your Bookkeeping Tasks

Small business owners have a lot of demands on their time. You are constantly looking for new employees to hire, marketing to customers, plus using social media to increase your brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. However, while you are running around making sure you keep current on customer service and marketing, you can’t neglect the financial aspects of your business.

If you find that you don’t have enough time to take care of the everyday finances for your business, you may want to think about streamlining your financial work. You can hire a company that can manage your payroll, your invoicing and your inventory. If you’re considering assistance for your business finances, contact Protea Financial. We can work with you and your business to make it run smoothly and efficiently. 

Do You Need Help with Weekly Bookkeeping Tasks?

Here at Protea Financial, we have multiple types of financial experts who can help with your daily, weekly, or yearly bookkeeping tasks. Let us take them off your plate so you can focus on your business!

Protea Conversations: Carter Welch

Protea Conversations: Carter Welch

Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high quality out-sourced bookkeeping and accounting at an affordable price.  Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the work force after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were previously overlooked.  Protea strives to represent people from all backgrounds and provide an environment for them to grow and succeed in a setting that provides the flexibility and acceptance of who they are as people.

We selected the name Protea because is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of this striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.

Protea Conversations in 2022 will focus on positive transformation and representation from all backgrounds. We are broadening our Conversations with the hope that these conversations will continue to create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges leaders face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.

In March we have a conversation with Carter Welch. Carter is a branding, sales and business coaching professional with hands on experience in multiple industries, including wine, manufacturing, and professional services (law, accounting, consulting, among several). After growing up in Maine, he was a History major at Bowdoin College. Upon graduation, he worked in Brand Management for Procter & Gamble, Pillsbury and Brach’s, where he built a consumer brand from $9 million to over $50 million in less than four years. For much of the past 20 years, Carter has built his own company, focusing on branding, marketing, and sales growth.

Carter is married to Tracey, the President of CompleteDTC, a comprehensive DTC management system for wineries, who was featured in one of our earlier Protea conversations. Carter is active in youth leadership and competes in short-distance triathlons several times a year (when he isn’t playing golf). Carter & Tracey love camping and driving vacations, especially visiting their 3 recently graduated sons, living in LA and Sacramento.

 

Tell us about your decision to go into marketing and your journey to Business Advisor, Coach and Consultant?

Right out of college, Procter & Gamble offered me one the best business management training opportunities in the world, in their Brand Management program, which included marketing, sales, general business management, P&L management and consumer research/education.  It was the perfect job because it included not simply marketing, but also general business management. It was such a great fit for me, I continue and progressed in Brand, Sales & then General Management for P&G, Pillsbury, Brach’s and an internet FinTech startup for the next 15 years. After moving to Fin Tech for a few years in 2000 at the height of “internet startups”

I then got the itch to start my own Marketing Services business, focusing on providing branding and marketing services to primarily small and light middle market clients in many different industries. We later moved to California, where I took a role as head of marketing, sales, and business development for a sizeable ($750 million) company, until I again had the desire to go out on my own again.  Today, my passion is to guide owners of smaller companies (generally start-ups to $20 million in revenue) to help them grow, scale, and lead their companies – all while helping them find joy in their work and balance in their lives.  

 

Protea Financial Protea Conversation Carter Welch

 

What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?

Lack of clear road maps has been the biggest challenge. There are lots of books to read, but how do I apply it for me and for my clients? As an independent business coach/consultant powered by The Shirlaws Group, I have access to incredible intellectual property that I use to help my clients. Some of the tools I use now, I really wish I had access to when I started my own Marketing Services business. I made mistakes that I may not have made if I had access to the “road maps” that Shirlaws gives me to use with my clients. For me, like most business owners I encounter, the problem isn’t a LACK of ideas, it is often TOO MANY ideas. How do they simplify and focus? How do they get help in developing a very specific road map, for their very unique business? That is what drives me – to help my clients avoid mistakes I made earlier, so they can achieve the kind of success and balance they seek.

 

What are your short-term goals of your career and yourself?

I’ll provide a personal goal that translates into professional lessons for success: I want to be a triathlete. Last year, I lost a bunch of weight through the Kaiser Weight Management Program (which I HIGHLY recommend).  I then decided I would try to complete a short-distance triathlon, which I did at the end of last year.  (Short distance means: ½ mile swim; 13-mile bike race, and a 5K run.) I will compete in several more races this year and next (moving up to the next distance level later in the year).

I love triathlons because they make me a much better business coach. Why? It teaches me the value of perseverance.  There is no way I could have completed even a short race when I started training.  And had I tried to “ramp up” too quickly, I would have gotten injured and failed.  Instead, I built up training slowly and didn’t try to do more than I really could or should until I was ready to continue to “scale” my training. This is the same thing I work with for my business clients.

Also, with triathlons, I need to have balanced training, doing something nearly 300 days a year.  But I may only compete in 5 or 6 actual races a year. So, my success is completely dependent on my finding joy in training, in putting in the effort to build up strength and endurance the 98% of the time that no one is watching (when I’m competing in a race).  The same is true for my clients. They need to focus on improving all the little details in their business day in and day out.  Get a little stronger here.  A little faster there.  A little smarter here. A little more efficient there. Budget time (and resources) effectively. These are great lessons and goals for my career.

 

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?

I’ll offer two.

First: Diffuse and disarm.

So many people, especially inside organizations are ready to fight.  Rather than fight an outside competitor, they turn to working at cross-purposes within their organization. Someone once taught me that when tensions are high, I need to diffuse the situation. Listen (genuinely) and then diffuse the heat and tension.  Next, disarm opponents within your own organization. A great mentor once pointed out that the biggest challenge to sales success is internal sales prevention.  So, with my clients, I help them identify and root out sales prevention within their own teams.

Second: your brand isn’t what you think it is, your brand is what your customers (and potential customers) think it is.

Seek first to understand what your customers (and people who have chosen to NOT become your customers) really think and believe about you. You cannot be understood unless you first seek to understand (shout out to Stephen Covey).

 

What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out?

Don’t seek to be right. Instead seek to implement right solutions that can be supported by your team.  Great ideas executed poorly always fail.  Very good ideas that have buy-in from the team implementing them, usually win. Being right if you can’t convince anyone to follow does not a leader make.

 

Protea Financial Group Cooperation Success Carter Welch

 

What advice you give to others to help them be better leaders?

Seek win-win solutions.  Listen.  Collaborate.  Encourage. Don’t seek credit yourself for good ideas – give that credit FREELY to others. No one wants to be beaten into submission. Find solutions that are a win for your company AND a win for the people on your team.  They will feel empowered, your business will be successful, and the moment will feed on itself and create extraordinary power within your organization.

 

Can you share something interesting about yourself that will provide insight into who you are outside of the professional space?

I love to serve as a youth leader, and I have throughout my life. When our boys were younger (they are now in their early 20’s), I coached many of their sports.  I believe I coached or assisted for about 40 different teams (basketball, baseball, soccer) for my 3 boys.  I still serve as a church youth group leader, which I’ve done for over 20 years. This involves serving a number of high school students as a mentor, friend, coach, and listener. Especially over the past two years, I’ve seen how difficult it can be for students to navigate through high school.  Every week, I look forward to the time I can spend with these amazing students. Plus, it keeps me sharp on current popular culture (yes, I knew all the performers at this year’s Super Bowl half-time show). On a more serious note, I just like being able to lean into students’ lives and be able to listen and make a difference in their lives.

As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will make a donation to Positive Images (https://www.posimages.org/). Positive Images is a grassroots nonprofit organization serving Sonoma County since 1990. Their LGBTQIA+ Community Center hosts multiple weekly support groups, a youth leadership development program, mentorship opportunities, an LGBTQIA+ Library, resource and referral station, and a Transformation Station. They proudly offer a warm, welcoming, and affirming environment for young people to explore their individual identities, develop leadership skills, and contribute to our collective community. Positive Images staff lead LGBTQIA+ Cultural Competency Trainings and presentations that educate the greater community focusing on human connection, compassion, and inclusion. Their goal is a community where all LGBTQIA+ people are valued, compassionate community members, creating a just society.

Call Protea Financial for More Information

If you have any questions, please reach out to us here at Protea Financial!

Best Bookkeeping Software for Small Business

Best Bookkeeping Software for Small Business

Understanding profit and loss is important for any business, but it’s especially vital for small businesses with tight budgets. Spending too much can quickly put these small businesses in danger, while miscalculating profits can lead to overdrawn accounts. That’s why as a business owner, you need to know exactly where your accounts stand. Opting for one of the best bookkeeping software options is one way of tracking your income, expenses, and accounts receivable/payable.

There are many different types of bookkeeping software out there, though, so selecting one may seem daunting. Understanding why you should use this software, what to look for, and the benefits it offers can help you narrow down your options.

 

Why Use Bookkeeping Software?

There are several reasons why using bookkeeping software can help you more effectively run your business. First, you need some way of keeping track of all of your income and expenses. Writing them down in a notebook may work at first, but you will have to do all of the math yourself. This method can also quickly become unorganized. If you lose the notebook or any paper version of your accounts, you likely won’t have any type of backup. Even if you do try to keep two written copies, it can be easy to forget to record a transaction in one of them.

One step up from using a paper accounting method is using software such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. These spreadsheet programs provide some benefits. They can do the math for you, and you can back them up to your personal cloud or to a flash drive. However, they aren’t full accounting programs. They don’t have features such as reconciliation or account management. While they’re better than using an accounting book, they aren’t perfect.

Bookkeeping software is designed specifically for accounting. Other spreadsheet programs can be used for a variety of different tasks, but bookkeeping software cannot. It includes all of the features and functions you’ll need to keep your accounts, vendors, employees, taxes, and more accurate and up to date. Information can be easily backed up and even shared with your accountant or other financial advisors.

 

What Should You Look for in Bookkeeping Software?

When you begin your search for bookkeeping software, you may feel overwhelmed. There are many options, and some of them may look almost identical. You will find many of the same features across the board, but that’s to be expected. These are the accounting and financial tools you’ll need in order to keep your accounts accurate.

One of the first things you’ll want to look for as a small business owner, though, is software that is specifically aimed at your needs. Small businesses do not have the same bookkeeping needs as large corporations. You may not need software that handles payroll, hours billable, inventory management, or other options. Make a list of the features you need in an accounting program in order to help narrow down the field. You may need to do some research into this if you’re not familiar with accounting. Sometimes, it can help to see what accounting programs offer so you can decide if you need those features.

In addition to features, price is certainly going to be a factor. You may find that some software is simply too costly for you. However, most accounting programs aimed at small businesses are affordable. Software has become even more affordable thanks to SaaS, or Software as a Service. Instead of buying the license for software, you subscribe to it. As long as you have an active subscription, you can use the software on any computer. Just download it and log into your account.

This means your books are available anywhere, too, because they’re stored in the cloud. You can make backups to your personal computer, of course, but the information will also always be synced with your online account. You’ll always have access to your accounts.

Protea Financial Bookkeeping Software Helps Small Businesses

 

Benefits for a Small Business

Once you’ve found the right bookkeeping software for your small business, you want to make certain you’re getting the most out of it. There are many benefits you will want to take advantage of. For example, most software available today, especially cloud-based software, works on mobile devices. This means you can complete a transaction and immediately invoice the customer. You can take photos of receipts or bills and immediately upload them. You can track the time you spend on a job and invoice for the time right away. You may be surprised at how convenient it is to have your bookkeeping software available wherever you are.

Another benefit is that accounting software will track all of your taxes. You input the correct rates for your location, and your software does everything for you. It will automatically insert the right amount of sales tax on your invoices, note how much tax you owe and how much you’ve paid in, and more. It makes filling out your tax forms and making payments incredibly easy. This also helps ensure that you are being compliant with all federal, state, and local tax laws.

Most bookkeeping software comes with a variety of different reporting and analytic tools. These tools will help you see where you’re spending your money, what your main source of income is, what type of spending trends your customers exhibit, and more. It can be incredibly helpful in maximizing profits while keeping your expenses under budget. Be sure you look at all of the different analytic options. You may find your software can generate reports you never thought of that provide key insight into your spending habits.

Finally, of course, a major benefit of using software is that it’s accurate. You don’t need to do any math by hand, nor do you risk making errors in transcribing numbers from a calculator to your software. The only thing you have to do is make certain you’ve entered the numbers accurately. Your software will do the rest.

 

The Four Best Bookkeeping Software Options

There are many different software options out there, but here are four of the best bookkeeping software options that many small businesses should be using to improve efficiency and accuracy:

 

Quickbooks

Quickbooks by Intuit is one of the most well-known accounting software packages available. Many businesses of all sizes use it. For small businesses, Quickbooks Online is a great option. It is designed to be scalable, so it will continue to work well for your business as you grow. It’s also widely used by accountants and other financial experts, so anyone you work with will likely understand Quickbooks. It makes use of cloud-based backups, has a mobile app, and can integrate with many third-party apps.

 

Gusto

Gusto provides great support to bookkeeping software, with it’s primary focus is being a payroll service provider. For small businesses with employees, it’s a great option. The software assists with tracking time, calculating insurance withholdings, and much more. Gusto is quite affordable for small businesses, too. Gusto can also help with your payroll tax filings, benefits for your team and much more!

 

Bill.com

Bill.com works with Quickbooks and other bookkeeping programs to bring automation and other features to your software. This creates one single platform you can use to handle your payments, invoices, and other tasks. The goal is to create a more efficient method of bookkeeping while keeping all of your information synced across platforms. Bill.com has tools developed specifically for small business users and provides a process for capturing and approving bills allowing you from passing paper around desks at your company.

 

Expensify

Expensify helps you track your employees expenses. This tool is very affordable, so small business owners will have no problem budgeting for it. However, it can be scaled up for mid-sized and large companies. They offer options such as optical character recognition for invoices, the option to integrate with other tools, and a variety of other functions. Using Expensify you’ll find it helps make your accounting much more efficient.

Protea Financial Which is the Best Bookkeeping Software for Your Business?

 

Which Combination is Right for You?

You’ll want to look at these four bookkeeping options plus others and compare them to your list of tools you need. Take your time and read plenty of reviews. Some applications also offer free trials, so take advantage of those as well.

 

Protea Financial is Here to Help Your Small Business Pick the Best Bookkeeping Software for Your Needs

While using bookkeeping software can certainly be helpful, it won’t be able to answer all of your questions or provide you with helpful suggestions. For that, you need a bookkeeper. That’s where Protea Financial comes in. We’re a team of virtual bookkeepers who specialize in helping small businesses with all of their accounting, bookkeeping, and other financial needs. Because we’re virtual, it doesn’t matter where you’re physically located. We’re here whenever you need us. We work with you via email, phone, and video chat.

While we do offer bookkeeping, we can also assist you with taxes, inventory management, payroll, compliance, and all other aspects of accounting. We will work closely with you and your team to accurately keep your accounting records, file your taxes on time, and assist in improving any areas of your company that are out of compliance. To learn more about how Protea Financial can help you or to get a quote for our services, contact us today.

Best Bookkeeping Software Options

Let the experienced professionals here at Protea Financial help you discover which bookkeeping software title will suit your needs!

Protea Conversations: Andrea Christensen

Protea Conversations: Andrea Christensen

Protea Conversations

Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high quality out-sourced accounting at an affordable price.  Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the work force after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were previously overlooked.  Protea strives to represent people from all backgrounds and provide an environment for them to grow and succeed in a setting that provides the flexibility and acceptance of who they are as people.

We selected the name Protea because it is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of its striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.

Protea Conversations in 2022 will focus on positive transformation and representation from all backgrounds. We are broadening our Conversations with the hope that these conversations will continue to create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges leaders face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.

In February we have a conversation with Andrea Christensen.  Andrea is the principal of Allstar West Insurance Services LLC which is the current iteration of H.N. Christensen Co., Inc., the insurance agency her grandfather started in 1923 in San Anselmo, California.  She is the 3rd generation to carry on their business and her daughter, Janelle Robello who is her “right hand”, brings 4 generations to the agency.

Andrea’s career has spanned more than 30 years providing service to her clients, many of whose families have been with the agency for generations as well.

Her vast experience, understanding of the current insurance climate and commitment to education set her apart from her peers.  She calls herself an “insurance nerd” and enjoys monthly classes to keep abreast of the continued changes in the coverages provided by the myriad insurance policies she sells.

A lifelong resident of Marin and Sonoma Counties, Andrea enjoys travelling with her husband, John Ranis, time outside in her vegetable garden, waterskiing and spending time with her family and friends.

Tell us about your journey into the insurance world?

I remember going to the office on weekends with my father when I was 11 or 12 and “cleaning” while he worked.  I’ve never looked back… except for the few minor jobs during school, and the time I quit for a few days over a large disagreement with my father.  I actually am very fortunate to have learned about giving within your community, Rotary International, supporting local business and referring and doing business within your community.  This is where I learned the “giving culture” I still use today and will continue to use.

 

Protea Financial Andrea Christensen

 

What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?

Professionally – I was a young mom (under 30) with about 5 years of insurance experience when my father had his first heart attack and could not go to the office.  There I was running a male dominated business with 8 employees all older and much more experienced than I.  Here is where “community” comes back in….3 insurance brokers in Marin County that my father knew all called and came to the office to assist me with accounts and questions and my amazing mentor and friend, Joan Capurro, (who just passed away at Christmas) who was a local banker, helped me with personnel issues.  They all helped me get through that time with no one quitting, no losses of accounts and boy, did I learn a LOT!

Personally – staying on track to grow the business and find time to enjoy TODAY.  So really it is what we all talk about these days – work life balance – what are we working for?  We need to enjoy today AND work today AND spend time with our family today…how do we fit it all in?

What are your short term goals of your career and yourself?

2023 will mark 100 years since my grandfather founded our agency.  We started as H.N. Christensen Co., Inc. and have had different names as we merged, purchased and bought out partners over the years.  My family and I are now the sole owners and I am working toward going back to a derivative of the Christensen name (as allowed by the department of insurance) and rebranding for our 100 year anniversary.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?

“It is a bigger feather in your cap to turn an employee around than to dismiss them” …Joan Capurro 1983

What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out?

If you are running your own business and don’t have an accounting background, take some accounting classes.  You always should hire professionals to handle your accounting, but if you don’t understand how to read your balance sheet, make projections, understand your expenses and true cost of doing business, you will have a rough road ahead.  Professionals can and will guide you in this but you are ultimately responsible for the success of YOUR business.

Also, and equally important, treat your employees well – VERY WELL – what you give will come back to you time and again.

What advice you give to others to help them be better leaders?

See above ????

Be real – be yourself – don’t take yourself too seriously -laugh at yourself – reach out to get to know who you are working with or leading and do your best.  We are all human, with time constraints – ask for help!  We can’t do everything ourselves so surround yourself with good people – that may mean professionally strong or people who “get it” – depending on what you are doing, but try to choose well and then don’t micromanage!

Can you share something interesting about yourself that will provide insight into who you are outside of the professional space?

I’m a wife, mom, auntie, grandmother, sister, friend, volunteer, businessowner, crafter, Rotarian, photographer, horseback rider, water skier, gardener and we own a 5th wheel trailer for travel.  There aren’t enough hours in the day ever! (I also love watching Women’s College Basketball and the Warriors) –  I love reading and learning – the two go hand in hand – so I read a lot.

I was the first woman inducted into the Rotary Club of Ross Valley in 1988, a club in which my grandfather was a charter member and my father was a current member.  3 men who had known me all or most of my life resigned their membership when I became a member.  I don’t consider myself unique – just a part of the time of change for women in many ways in the world, not just the work environment.  It is interesting to look back on that now.

Last, I had stopped volunteering some in 2017 and was looking for something new when ProVisors started in Marin that year.  When I left home to attend the first meeting, my husband asked me to “sit on both of your hands” so I did not volunteer for anything…. look how well I listen!  I am a member of ProVisors Larkspur and the Group Leader of ProVisors Santa Rosa 2.  It is a fabulous community and how I got to meet Zane Stevens.

As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will make a donation to Positive Images (https://www.posimages.org/). Positive Images is a grassroots nonprofit organization serving Sonoma County since 1990. Their LGBTQIA+ Community Center hosts multiple weekly support groups, a youth leadership development program, mentorship opportunities, an LGBTQIA+ Library, resource and referral station, and a Transformation Station. They proudly offer a warm, welcoming, and affirming environment for young people to explore their individual identities, develop leadership skills, and contribute to our collective community. Positive Images staff lead LGBTQIA+ Cultural Competency Trainings and presentations that educate the greater community focusing on human connection, compassion, and inclusion. Their goal is a community where all LGBTQIA+ people are valued, compassionate community members, creating a just society.

Call Protea Financial for More Information

If you have any questions, please reach out to us here at Protea Financial!