DataCraft Blog feeds for 60 of year closing - 5 things to remember<br><p><img src=" of year closing.JPG" border="0" alt="end of year closing" class="alignRight" style="float:right" />As 2010 draws to a close and we&nbsp;look toward&nbsp;2011, it's time to start preparing for the accounting year end closing process. Whether you prepare your own information or outsource the project to an accountant, as you close out your books for 2010, there are some simple steps you should take to help make the process easier.</p> <p>The year-end financial statement is the most important reports in the year-end process, it&rsquo;s used for tax preparation, future reference, and weighs more heavily in decision making than monthly reports. Because it such an important report, accuracy is key.</p> <p>Here is a list of 5 things to remember when preparing for the year-end:</p> <ol> <li>Bank Rec &ndash; Does your general ledger match the bank statements? Make sure your checkbook is balanced and all of your records agree.</li> <li>Balance sheet &ndash; Don&rsquo;t forget to review your balance sheets for loans to verify payments and account balances with your lending institutions. </li> <li>Account Payables &ndash; Have you recorded and balanced all of you account payables to detail? Make sure that your invoices match up with your records. &nbsp;</li> <li>Account Receivables &ndash;Have all of your receivables been accurately records in the right fiscal year? Be sure to balance your receivables to detail. </li> <li>&nbsp;Payroll &ndash; Is your last payroll of the year completed and balanced with your records.</li> </ol> <p>Each accounting software package has its own procedure to follow to close out the year, following those steps and keeping your records up-to-date throughout the entire fiscal year to what makes the difference between a quick and a painful process.</p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 10 Dec 2010 21:00:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:56210 of Inventory Errors<br><p style="line-height: 145%;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color: black;"> <p style="line-height: 145%;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; color: black;">Just about every company that deals with inventory experiences errors in their inventory records at one point or another. These errors can occur for a number of reasons, overlooking goods on hand, miscounting goods or simple mathematical errors are common. Your income statement&nbsp;will feel the effect of inventory errors if they go uncorrected.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 145%;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; color: black;">Inventory errors affect two periods because the ending inventory of one period automatically&nbsp;becomes the beginning inventory of the next, this causes inventory errors to affect the calculation on the cost of goods sold. An error in the cost of goods sold leads to errors in how the gross profit and net income are calculated. Here are the effects of inventory erroes on the current year's income statements:</span></p> <img src=" of Inventory Errors.png" border="0" alt="Impact of Inventory Errors" width="475" height="141" class="alignCenter" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" /></span></p> <span style="font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; color: black;">An error while recording the ending inventory in the current period has a reverse effect on the net income of the next period. For example: if a company understates their ending inventory, their beginning inventory for the next period will be understated while the net income for the next year will be overstated. If the inventory errors go uncorrected, by the time the two periods are over they will have offset each other. If a company has an error in the beginning inventory, it won&rsquo;t have a corresponding error in the ending inventory. In order to have an accurate ending inventory, companies need to make sure they&rsquo;re correctly recording the inventory at the balance sheet date. </span> <p style="line-height: 145%;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; color: black;">Financial statements depend on accurate information and it&rsquo;s important that companies have a correct inventory balance at the end of each accounting period.</span></p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 03 Dec 2010 17:24:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:55841 reconciliation process<br><p><img src=" reconciliation process.JPG" border="0" alt="bank reconciliation process" /></p> <p>As discussed last week, the bank rec process can be quite tedious, but the benefit of doing bank reconciliation is that your records are accurate and up-to-date. The bank rec process isn&rsquo;t hard, it&rsquo;s basically cross checking all of your information with the bank and adjusting as needed and if you&rsquo;ve balanced a checkbook, the idea of doing a bank rec isn&rsquo;t much different. &nbsp;There are four steps in the reconciliation process.</p> <p>The first step of the bank rec process is to adjust the balance on the bank statement to match the true balance. The first thing you need to do is to add deposits in transit. Deposits in transit are amounts that have already been received and recorded by the company, but have yet to be recorded by the bank. Because they&rsquo;re already included in the company&rsquo;s records, there&rsquo;s no need to adjust the company records, but they need to be added to the bank reconciliation as an increase to the bank balance to make sure both reports match and are accurate.</p> <p>The next step in the process is to deduct the outstanding checks. Outstanding checks are checks that have been recorded in the company&rsquo;s cash account but have yet to clear the bank. Compare paid checks shown on the bank statements with checks outstanding from prior bank recs and checks issued by the company and recorded in the cash payment journal.</p> <p>The third step in the bank rec process is to note any errors that might have occurred and add or deduct them as needed. When doing this, make sure that they are listed in the appropriate place to ensure that they have been corrected. Any errors made by the company, such as transposing numbers, need to be adjusted on the company records. Any errors made by the bank, such as entering information on the wrong account, need to be adjusted on the bank records.</p> <p>The fourth and final step is to trace the banks memoranda to the company records. Any unrecorded bank memos need to be listed in the company&rsquo;s records. Bank memos include any sort of service charges or fees and interest.</p> <p>Can the bank rec process be tedious? Yes. Is it fun? No. Is it necessary? Absolutely. Without it, you don&rsquo;t know if you have the cash needed to pay your bills. The bank rec process also helps to find any inaccuracies between your records. Matching account records are happy account records.</p> <p>If you have any questions about the bank rec process or have any other accounting questions, <a title="check out our QuickCall services" href="" target="_self">check out our QuickCall services</a>.</p><br>Kelli PoliskaWed, 24 Nov 2010 17:25:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:55411 you should pay attention to bank reconciliation<br><span style="font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; color: black;"><img src=" bookkeeping.jpg" border="0" alt="accountant bookkeeping" class="alignCenter" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" />With a constant cashflow coming in and out of your business, it&rsquo;s important to make sure that your bank balance matches your book balance. The tedious, but necessary, process is called bank reconciliation, or bank rec for short. Performing a bank rec is a lot like balancing a checkbook, and you do it for the same reason. You want to make sure that the information you have matches the bank and you know how much cash is available in your account. </span> <p style="line-height: 145%;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; color: black;">Discrepancies between the accounts usually occur for two reasons: time lag and errors. Time lags are the most common cause of inconsistencies between the accounts. A time lag is something that prevents one of the records from recording the transaction in the same period. Making a deposit after bank hours and the time lapse between a check is written and the date the bank posts the check are both considered time lags. Errors can also cause your records to not match up with the bank&rsquo;s records. Errors are less common than time lags, but can still occur. Reconciling your accounts helps to determine if the discrepancy is due to time lag or error. &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 145%;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; color: black;">If your business write hundreds of checks a month, doing a bank rec can be time consuming but it's worth the hassle. The main benefit of bank rec is knowing that the amount of cash reported by your company is consistent with the amount of cash being recorded by your bank. Regular bank rec also helps you find inaccuracies in your accounts and quickly </span></p> <p style="line-height: 145%;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; color: black;">Monthly bank reconciliation helps you clear up any problems between your records and the banks records. Next week we&rsquo;ll go over the bank rec procedure. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 145%;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color: black;">With a constant stream of cash coming in and out of your business, it&rsquo;s important to make sure that your bank balance matches your book balance. The tedious, but necessary, process is called bank reconciliation, or bank rec for short. Performing a bank rec is a lot like balancing a checkbook. You want to make sure that the information you have matches the bank and you know how much cash is available in your account. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 145%;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color: black;">Discrepancies between the accounts usually occur for two reasons: time lag and errors. Time lags are the most common cause of inconsistencies between the accounts. A time lag is something that prevents one of the records from recording the transaction in the same period. Making a deposit after bank hours and the time lapse between a check is written and the date the bank posts the check are both considered time lags. Errors can also cause your records to not match up with the bank&rsquo;s records. Errors are less common than time lags, but can still occur. Reconciling your accounts helps to determine if the discrepancy is due to time lag or error. &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 145%;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color: black;">If your business write hundreds of checks a month, doing a bank rec can be time consuming but it's worth the hassle. The main benefit of bank rec is knowing that the amount of cash reported by your company is consistent with the amount of cash being recorded by your bank. Regular bank rec also helps you find inaccuracies in your accounts and quickly </span></p> <p style="line-height: 145%;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color: black;">Monthly bank reconciliation helps you clear up any problems between your records and the banks records. Next week we&rsquo;ll go over the bank rec procedure. </span></p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 19 Nov 2010 20:40:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:55249 Statements Preparation OR How To Be Your Bank's Best Friend<br><p><img src=" services quickbooks.JPG" border="0" alt="support services quickbooks" class="alignRight" style="float: right;" />We've seen it time and time again; a company is racing against the clock to get their financials prepped for their banker and something just doesn&rsquo;t look right. Whether they&rsquo;re not sure if their numbers are correct or they&rsquo;re having problems understanding the format of their reports, they&rsquo;re frustrated and tempted to skimp on the financial statements preparation and send off what pieced together information they have just to get the painstaking process over it.</p> <p>If you've ever had similar thoughts, follow our words of advice:</p> <p>Don&rsquo;t. Do. It.</p> <p>Sending your bank inaccurate information only causes more frustration, not only for you but also for your banker. Taking time to give the bank correct financials is not only the nice thing to do, but it also helps to paint a clearer picture of the financial health of your company. Accurate information helps your bank to correctly gauge is loaning your business money is a sold investment. They want to look at your information and determine; can you pay, will you pay, and what will happen if you don&rsquo;t.&nbsp;The more accurate information you give them, the faster response you will get about a request for a loan.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re not sure what kind of information you need to give to your banker or how to pull the correct reports from your system, don&rsquo;t be afraid to ask for help. It&rsquo;ll save you and your banker a lot of time and stress.</p> <p>For help with accounting of QuickBooks questions, <a title="sign up for a 30 Day trail of QuickCall(TM)" href=";utm_source=blog%20" target="_self">sign up for a 30 Day trail of QuickCall(TM)</a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 12 Nov 2010 16:26:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:54849 of Sale<br><p><img src="[1].JPG" border="0" alt="DataCraft POS" /></p> <p>Here at DataCraft, we are pleased to announce the addition of Point of Sale software to our line of products and services. POS software improves the check out and inventory tracking process for consumer based businesses by handling sales and the inventory database from the cash register.</p> <p>&ldquo;We are excited to offer retailers from Rockford and the surrounding areas the ability to enhance their efficiency with their computerized sales and inventory operations,&rdquo; DataCraft Project Manager John Karvelis said. &ldquo;Point of Sale software offers businesses distinct advantages by instantly managing their inventory.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>POS helps business owners run a more efficient business by automatically adjusting inventory levels at checkout. This helps to&nbsp;give companies accurate assessments of inventory on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Having an accurate count of inventory at any given time helps companies eliminate unnecessary inventory, optimize cash flow, and reduce inventory shrinkage by detecting theft and bookkeeping errors.</p> <p>For more information about POS and how it can help your&nbsp;business give us a call at 815-965-9800.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 05 Nov 2010 17:35:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:54317 a trial balance<br><p><img src="" border="0" alt="preparing a trial balance" width="330" height="197" /></p> <p>In double entry bookkeeping, a trial balance is a worksheet that lists all of your general ledger accounts and their balances at a given time. Typically, trial balances are prepared at the end of an accounting period. Accounts are listed in the order they appear in the ledger, as always debits are listed on the left and credits are on the right.</p> <p>There are three trial balances that need to be prepared. The first&nbsp; trial balance that needs to be made is a preliminary general ledger trial balance. This trial balance needs to be done&nbsp;before working on adjusting entries. Once the preliminary trial balance is finished, you can make adjusting entries. An adjusted trial balance can be done once the entries are adjusted and posted to the general ledger. The last step is a post-closing trial balance. This trial balance only contains balance sheet accounts which help ensure that your books are balanced for the beginning of a new accounting period.</p> <p>Why is a trial balance important? The trial balance helps to spot errors in the accounting process before moving on to the next step. Preparing trial balances help call accounting errors and irregularities to light.</p> <p>But what do you do if the trial balance that just won&rsquo;t balance? After finding out the difference between the two columns, several steps can help:</p> <ul> <li>If the error is $1, $10, $100, and so on, simply re-add the trial balances columns and recalculate the account balances.</li> <li>If you can divide the error by 2, look over the trial balance to look for a balance that&rsquo;s equal to half of the error that has been entered in the wrong column. </li> <li>If you can divide the error by 9, look for the account balances on the trial balance to see if there was a transposition error. An example of a $9 error would be listing $12 ad $21.</li> <li>If you can&rsquo;t divide the error by 2 or 9, look over your ledgers for an account balance that matches the error number &nbsp;to see if an account balance with that same number has been omitted from the trial balance and scan the journal to see if a posting of the same amount was left out. </li> </ul> <p>A trial balance won&rsquo;t guarantee that your records will be error-free and even if the balances match, it doesn&rsquo;t mean that every transaction has been accurately recorded. &nbsp;</p> <p>Creating trial balances help keep your business on track but starting the new accounting cycle balanced.</p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 29 Oct 2010 17:32:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:54204 versus Equity : Which is right for your business?<br><p>Choosing how to finance your business is one of the most important decisions you can make for you company.&nbsp; There are two main sources of financing broken into the following categories, debt financing and equity financing. Both have unique pros and cons and deciding which one to use depends on your long term business goals.</p> <p><img src=" to equity formula.jpg" border="0" alt="debt to equity formula" class="alignRight" style="float: right;" />Let&rsquo;s start off with debt financing. Debt financing is borrowing money from a lender that has to be repaid, with interest, over a period of time. A business can borrow money for a short term, which is less than a year, or a long term, over a year. With debt financing, the lender does gain any ownership in the business. There are other advantages to debt financing including the ability to deduct the interest on your company tax returns. &nbsp;Also as a borrower, you&rsquo;re also only obligated to pay back the principle and interest of the loan.</p> <p>Before deciding on debt financing, there are some disadvantages. New businesses especially feel the restraints of debt financing due to lack of consistent cash flow which could make paying back the loan more difficult. This could also leave a business vulnerable to higher interest rates. Business owners are warned to stay away from too much debt financing because it can make it more difficult for them to raise capital in the future.</p> <p>Another option to look into is equity financing. Equity financing involves &nbsp;exchanging money for a share in the business.&nbsp; The biggest advantage equity financing has over debt is that the business isn&rsquo;t obligated to pay back the loan. Unlike the debt financing option, investors become part owners of the business and receive part of future profits.&nbsp;</p> <p>Much like debt financing, equity financing also has some disadvantages. As mentioned earlier, investors own a part of the business, which mean they also get a say in company decisions. More investors mean less control for the business owner. Relying too heavily on equity financing might give off the idea that capital is being misused or not used to its full advantage.</p> <p>Both options are viable ways to finance your business but beware of focusing too heavily on one area over the other. Lenders will take a look at your debt to equity formula, which measures a company&rsquo;s portion of shareholder equity and debt to finance company assets. The ratio is calculated by dividing total liabilities by shareholder&nbsp;equity.&nbsp;Although it varies depending on your industry segment, the ideal debt to equity ratio should fall anywhere between 1:1 and 1:2. The ratio helps to show lenders if the company is creditworthy.</p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 22 Oct 2010 15:06:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:53726 help with QuickBooks Setup or consulting? Know where to look!<br><p><img src=" consulting1.jpg" border="0" alt="Quickbooks consulting" class="alignRight" style="float: right;" /></p> <p>Intuit&rsquo;s QuickBooks Enterprise Solution software has helped thousands of small business around the country get their financial information together in a manageable form that&rsquo;s easy to use. In order to have a successful QuickBooks accounting system you need to take an adequate amount of time preparing your data before entering it into your new accounting software and have support available in case anything arises.</p> <p>Throughout the years, we&rsquo;ve spoken with many QuickBooks users who for a variety of reasons didn&rsquo;t have the time or ability to clean up their data before importing it into the QuickBooks system. The result of this is usually frustration and uncertainty.&nbsp; It could be that they&rsquo;re worried about giving their banks inaccurate financial information or they&rsquo;re unhappy with the format of their reports, whatever the reason is, it&rsquo;s good to have someone in your corner.</p> <p>You don't have to tackle the project on your own, whether you need help upgrading your system, cleaning your financial data, or if you just have a question about your pulling a report out of you system, help is available. DataCraft has Certified ProAdvisors offers QuickBooks consulting services, QuickBooks training, and <a title="QuickCall service" href="" target="_self">QuickCall service</a>.</p> <p><a title="Contact DataCraft " href="" target="_self">Contact DataCraft </a>for help with your QuickBooks needs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 15 Oct 2010 18:28:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:53247 the Cost of Goods Sold Ratio<br><p>We've had great questions submitted to the <a title="Bean Counter" href="" target="_self">Bean Counter</a> lately, and one we've seen several times has to deal with cost of goods sold. This week we're going to cover calculating the cost of goods sold ratio.</p> <p>The cost of goods sold (also known as COGS or cost of sales) is the direct for a company to produce a product and sell its services. While the cost included in the COGS differs depending on the business, they typically include inventory sold, raw material,&nbsp;and freight and labor costs.</p> <p>How do you calculate the Cost of Goods Sold ratio? The basic way to calculate the COGS is to start with the beginning inventory for the period and adding the total amount of purchases made during the same period, then subtracting the ending inventory.</p> <p>For example:</p> <p>Your company has $25 million in inventory, makes $15 million in purchases and ends with $10 million in inventory; the COGS would be $30million.</p> <p>$25 million starting inventory&nbsp;+ $15 million in purchases&nbsp;- $10 million ending inventory =$30 million COGS.</p> <p>Knowing and understanding the COGS is important because it helps companies make important decisions when it comes to pricing products and services. It helps to uncover opportunities to reduce cost and improve production.</p> <p>Keep in mind that if you want to have accurate COGS, you must have a well managed inventory system.</p> <p>If you have an accounting question, <a title="submit it to the Bean Counter." href="ask-the-bean-counter/" target="_self">submit it to the Bean Counter.</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><br>Monica GlennyFri, 08 Oct 2010 14:30:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:52955 help with bookkeeping, accounting, and QuickBooks with QuickCall<br><p><img class="alignRight" src=" with bookkeeping.JPG" border="0" alt="help with bookkeeping" width="214" height="233" style="float: right;" /></p> <p>When the check engine light comes on in your car, you might pop open the hood to see if you can spot an immediate fix but more likely than not you wouldn&rsquo;t tear the engine apart and call in help after it&rsquo;s in pieces.</p> <p>We see it a lot, small companies juggling projects internally and when a problem arises, they try to fix it themselves and unfortunately, things quickly get out of hand. It&rsquo;s what we talked about last week with the <a title="Dangers of Do-It-Yourself Accounting" href="" target="_blank">Dangers of Do-It-Yourself Accounting</a>.&nbsp; Many companies who chose to do their accounting in house are successful at it because they know when to ask for help when a problem comes up.</p> <p>Still many are hesitant to call in for back up before trying to fix the problem themselves and we really can&rsquo;t blame them. It&rsquo;s aggravating when you&rsquo;re charges a high hourly rate for a problem that took 10 minutes to resolve.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s why we developed QuickCall, our monthly subscription call service that allows you to call with accounting and QuickBooks questions and receive help with bookkeeping.</p> <p>QuickCall gives you&nbsp;unlimited calling to our Certified Intuit ProAdvisors for a low $50 monthly fee, but we&nbsp;would like to offer&nbsp;a free, 30-day trial to our loyal readers.</p> <h4><a title="Sign up today for your free 30-day trial of QuickCall" href=";utm_source=Blog" target="_self">Sign up today for your free 30-day trial of QuickCall</a></h4><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 01 Oct 2010 16:17:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:52420 of Do-It-Yourself Accounting<br><p><img src=" confuses me-resized-600.JPG" border="0" alt="accounting confuses me resized 600" width="474" height="286" /></p> <p>In an effort to save time and money, many small businesses choose to do a lot of work in-house. One area where many businesses decide to take on the DIY attitude is with accounting. However, small business owners and staff are pulled in a lot of different directions and it can be difficult to make time to pay full attention to their accounting processes. What is an attempt to save money might end up costing a lot more than what they originally bargained for.</p> <p>Accounting is more than plugging numbers into software. In order to get accurate information from your reports, you need to make sure you&rsquo;re plugging in correct and complete data to begin with. Accounting is like a machine with a dozens of tiny pieces. In order for the machine to run smoothly, there should be much care and detail given to each part. Lack of time and familiarity with the accounting process are big road blocks when it comes to DIY accounting.</p> <p>If businesses aren&rsquo;t careful, placing inaccurate information from cash paid out, bank charges, payroll timesheet, and balancing checkbooks can lead to a big mess when it comes time to pull the information into financial statements. These inaccuracies are purely accidental but if they aren't fixed right away, they can lead to huge headaches.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s not to say that small companies aren&rsquo;t capable of doing their own accounting work, many can and with little to no problems. In order to be successful, you need to dedicate time and attention to accounting processes. One important thing to remember is that it is ok to get help. Whether you are looking for someone to take care of your accounting or just have a few questions about financial statement preparation and process, don&rsquo;t be afraid to ask for help. Taking the time to get help right away saves you from a mess down the road.</p> <p>We&rsquo;re happy to help in any way we can. We are here to help answer your accounting questions with our new <a title="QuickCall service" href=";utm_source=blog" target="_self">QuickCall service</a> and we offer a variety of <a title="accounting services" href="" target="_self">accounting services</a>. &nbsp;</p><br>Kelli PoliskaThu, 23 Sep 2010 17:33:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:51881 Debits and Credits: A cheat sheet<br><p><img src=" and credits.JPG" border="0" alt="debits and credits" /></p> <p>If you have been reading the DataCraft blog for awhile, you might remember our Credits vs. Debits series if not, check out <a title="Round 1" href="" target="_self">Round 1</a>, <a title="Round 2" href="" target="_blank">Round 2</a>, and <a title="Round 3" href="" target="_blank">Round 3</a>. If you're new here, we'd like to take a&nbsp;quick moment to&nbsp;revisit the topic.</p> <p>Trying to figure out if an account goes into&nbsp;the Debit&nbsp;or Credit account&nbsp;can get a little confusing,&nbsp;so our Bean Counter has&nbsp;put together&nbsp;quick reference guide to help you keep your credits and debits straight.</p> <p>It helps to think about Debits and Credits as the numbers on a calculator tape. <strong>Debits are black</strong> (+) and <strong><span style="color: #ff0000;">Credits are red</span></strong> (-)</p> <ul> <li>Balance sheet accounts are <strong>DEBIT</strong> accounts &ndash; Debits raise the balance</li> <li>Liabilities and Owner&rsquo;s Equity are <strong><span style="color: #ff0000;">CREDIT </span></strong>accounts &ndash; Credits raise the balance</li> <li>Sales accounts are <strong><span style="color: #ff0000;">CREDIT</span></strong> accounts &ndash; Credits raise the balance</li> <li>Cost of Goods Sold accounts are <strong>DEBIT </strong>accounts &ndash; Debits raise the balance</li> <li>Operating Expense accounts are <strong>DEBIT </strong>accounts &ndash; Debits raise the balance</li> </ul> <table border="1" cellpadding="0"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p><strong>&nbsp; Debit Accounts</strong></p> </td> <td> <p><strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<span style="color: #ff0000;">Credit Accounts</span></strong></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Balance Sheet</p> </td> <td> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;Liabilities</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Cost of Goods Sold</p> </td> <td> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;Owner's Equity</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Operating Expenses</p> </td> <td> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;Sales</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>Knowing which&nbsp;accounts correspond&nbsp;with&nbsp;Debit or Credit accounts&nbsp;will make&nbsp;putting together financial statements quicker and easier.</p> <p>Do you have a question for the Bean Counter? <a title="Submit it here" href=";utm_source=blog" target="_self">Submit it here</a> and we'll have our Bean Counter work on it right away.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><br>Monica GlennyFri, 17 Sep 2010 13:29:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:51741 is involved in financial statement preparation?<br><p><img class="alignLeft" src=" statement.JPG" border="0" alt="cashflow statement" style="float: left;" /></p> <p>It may not seem like it, but financial statements preparation takes a lot of work and is very important to the success of your business. Partners, investors, auditors, accountants, and managers all look to financial statements to give them a sign of the financial health of the company. &nbsp;There are four basic financial statements and they all rely on accurate information in the accounting journal and general ledger. The information from the accounting journal and the general ledger is used to create the four financial statements:</p> <ul> <li>Income statement</li> <li>Statement of retained earnings</li> <li>Balance Sheet</li> <li>Statement of Cash flow </li> </ul> <p>The statements are put together in that order because information from the previous statement acts as a building block to help develop the next.</p> <p>First up is the income statement (also known as Profit&nbsp;&amp; Loss statement&nbsp;or P&amp;L). The income statement reports on a company&rsquo;s income, expenses, and profits over a period of time. These include sales and various expenses acquired.</p> <p>The next statement that gets prepared it the statement of retained earnings.&nbsp;The statement of retained earnings explains the amount of profit held on to during the reported period. This is prepared after the income statement because it requires the net profit or loss information to calculate correctly.</p> <p>Next up is the balance sheet (also referred to as financial condition) that reports on the assets, liabilities, and owner's equity at any given point in time. The entries on the balance sheet come from the general ledger.</p> <p>Finally, the statement of cash flow can be prepared. The cashflow&nbsp;statement reports on your company&rsquo;s cash flow activities and shows your financial position on a cash basis. &nbsp;The Statement of Cash Flows has to be prepared last because it takes information from all three previous financial statements.</p> <p>Having accurate and well prepared information helps you make important business decisions. Bankers look at the information to help them decide if they should give your company a loan and investors use the information to see if your business is a good investment. Vendors will even use the information to decide whether or not to grant you credit.</p> <p>Financial statements aren&rsquo;t exactly fun to prepare, but they are the building blocks to a successful business.</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 10 Sep 2010 20:08:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:51395 Accounting: The Missing Piece of the Puzzle<br><p><span style="line-height: 145%; font-family: 'Calibri','sans-serif'; color: black; font-size: 11pt;"><img style="float: right;" src=" acccounting.jpg" border="0" alt="lean accounting" hspace="3" vspace="3" />The lean process doesn't stop at the shop floor.&nbsp;The perfection of lean processes means adopting completely lean business practices.&nbsp;A majority of companies that have adopted&nbsp;the lean manufacturing run into problems with their current accounting system.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 145%;"><span style="line-height: 145%; font-family: 'Calibri','sans-serif'; color: black; font-size: 11pt;">Originally designed to support mass production, traditional accounting methods fall short in the lean process. Traditional accounting systems produce reports which often times can be misleading when it comes to determining the effectiveness of the lean process.&nbsp;Here&rsquo;s a quick example of why traditional accounting doesn&rsquo;t work for the lean process:</span></p> <p style="line-height: 145%;"><span style="line-height: 145%; font-family: 'Calibri','sans-serif'; color: black; font-size: 11pt;">Your company implements the lean manufacturing process and in doing so, is able to eliminate $40 of your $100 inventory. In the lean world, this would be seen as a positive impact because you&rsquo;re reducing you inventory waste. However, traditional accounting practices would see the reduction of inventory as costing the company money. Without lean accounting in place, the $40 loss in inventory shows the lean creates loss, not effectiveness. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 145%;"><span style="line-height: 145%; font-family: 'Calibri','sans-serif'; color: black; font-size: 11pt;">To combat this issue and&nbsp;receive accurate data, companies&nbsp;need&nbsp;to turn to lean accounting. Lean accounting is the missing piece of the puzzle that helps companies move toward their long-term lean goals. It provides information and measurements that focus on lean goals of waste elimination. It simplifies that financial data so everyone can understand the reports and provides actionable information. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 145%;"><span style="line-height: 145%; font-family: 'Calibri','sans-serif'; color: black; font-size: 11pt;">For additional lean accounting resources, check out <a title="BMA, Inc." href="" target="_blank">BMA, Inc.</a> and for lean process resources stop by <a title="IMEC" href="" target="_blank">IMEC</a> </span></p><br>Kelli PoliskaThu, 02 Sep 2010 20:27:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:50100 inventory system with the lean process<br><p><img style="float: right;" src=" counting.JPG" border="0" alt="inventory counting" hspace="3" vspace="3" width="379" height="216" />Last week we discussed the lean process but what does that mean in terms of inventory management? Companies that have adopted the lean process operate by the &ldquo;less is more&rdquo; philosophy. Many companies are turning to a more effective inventory system which means no longer stockpiling warehouses with inventory. They realize the importance of being able to quickly adapt to ever changing demands. &nbsp;Anymore, large inventories only create obstacles for business trying to keep up with their customers and the economy.</p> <p>According to <a title="R. Michael Donovan &amp;amp; Co" href="" target="_self">R. Michael Donovan &amp; Co</a>., manufacturers typically have 25-50% excess inventory. What do they mean by &ldquo;excess inventory&rdquo;? Excess inventory is any inventory that doesn&rsquo;t support an objective within the lean process.</p> <p>Manufacturers need to be careful not to reduce inventory without an actionable goal. Simply liquidating inventory can lead to a magnitude of costly issues including lower productivity, lost sales, and lower profits.</p> <p>In order to have an effective lean inventory process a company needs to have the right tools in place, changes in their process, right measurement, and the willingness to make the changes permanent throughout the organization.</p> <p>Reducing inventory to get your business in line with the lean process takes preparation and collaboration across your company. Many companies who have put the lean process in place have seen an improvement of work flow and processes, especially when it comes to inventory.</p> <p>For additional resources on the lean manufacturing process, visit the <a title="IMEC website" href="" target="_self">IMEC website</a>.</p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 13 Aug 2010 18:33:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:49678 is the lean process?<br><p>We are always looking for ways to further improve business processes. We want to improve quality and flow and eliminate waste all while increasing profitability and decreasing costs. To reach these goals many businesses, especially manufacturers are turning to lean processes.</p> <p>But what exactly is lean manufacturing?&nbsp; Lean manufacturing is a process that focuses on eliminating waste by only producing what is needed to meet customer demands.&nbsp;Benefits of the&nbsp;lean process include lower costs, higher quality, and shorter lead time.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The Lean Enterprise institute cites five principles of the lean process</p> <ol> <li>Indentify. Identify value of the product from the customer&rsquo;s standpoint</li> <li>Map. Map all of the steps in the value stream for each product. Look for steps that don&rsquo;t create value and eliminate them.</li> <li>Create flow. Make sure the remaining steps follow a tight sequence so the product will seamlessly flow to the customer</li> <li>Establish pull. As flow is introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream.</li> <li>Seek Perfection. Keep repeating the first four processes to identify waste and values and to put those values to good use. A perfect process is one where maximum value is created with no waste. <img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src=" six sigma software.png" border="0" alt="Lean six sigma software" hspace="3" vspace="3" width="338" height="209" /></li> </ol> <p>The lean process was originally created for manufacturing but can be applied to any business setting. In fact, lean accounting is becoming a popular method among accountants. &nbsp;The lean philosophy applies all industries because it goes further than mass productions and meeting quota, it's a customer and employee driven process.</p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 06 Aug 2010 13:35:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:49130 software for manufacturers<br><span> <p><img src=" and attendance software.jpg" border="0" alt="time and attendance software" hspace="3" vspace="3" />*</p> <p>Accurate recording of time is crucial to manufacturers Labor costs have a significant impact of the profitability of a business. Detailed information about the time spent on production gives you the data you need to manage your workforce more efficiently. Without timely and correct data, prices of products and customer invoices run the risk of being inaccurate and ultimately impact your sales and profitability.</p> <p style="line-height: 145%;"> <p>Manual spreadsheets are costly and time consuming. Managers waste valuable time on calculations and run the risk of error with duplicate data entry. There&rsquo;s a myth that <a title="time tracking " href="" target="_self">time tracking </a>is complex and pricey, but with the correct tools in place, time tacking software can integrate with your ERP system, cutting down on time spent on duplicate data entry and reducing the opportunity for error.</p> <p><a title="Time tracking software" href="" target="_self">Time tracking software</a> also allows you to prepare a better pricing model. Accurate job costing requires the entire data associate with the job to be correctly reported- including labor setup, production, and customer service. Dangers of miscalculated information about the time and material for each job could result in lower invoices and reduced profitability.</p> <p>Real-time information offered by integrating your ERP software system with employee and timetracking software gives your company the information it needs to make important business decisions.</p> </p> <p><em>*photo credit: Michele Filion</em></p> </span><br>Kelli PoliskaTue, 03 Aug 2010 14:56:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:48575 is the effect of errors in inventory?<br><p><img src=" in inventory.JPG" border="0" alt="error in inventory" hspace="3" vspace="3" width="407" height="249" /></p> <p>We&rsquo;re happy to report that we've&nbsp;been receiving a lot of questions for the Ask the Bean Counter lately and this one covers a topic that effects every business. Inventory management is something that many companies struggle with and tracking or calculating inventory incorrectly can have a negative impact of the success of your business.</p> <p>Errors in inventory could cause serious problems in recording the true activity of your business.</p> <p>If inventory is overstates, the cost of goods sold is usually too low. This causes the net profit to be too high. If inventory is understated, then the cost of good is usually too high which causes the net profit to be too low.</p> <p>Have a question for the Bean Counter? <a title="Submit it here" href="" target="_self">Submit it here</a></p><br>Monica GlennyWed, 28 Jul 2010 15:46:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:48460 your business need a timetracking system?<br><p><img style="float: right;" src=" software.JPG" border="0" alt="timekeeping software" hspace="3" vspace="3" />If you run a service based company, time is your inventory. Accurate tracking of&nbsp;employee time and material&nbsp;spent on a project is clutch when it comes to managing projects.</p> <p>While it may be tempting to stick to spreadsheets to track time and expenses they are limited in their capabilities and more often than not lead to inefficiencies in tracking project statuses and budgets. Not to mention that they block your project managers from getting the real-time information they need to measure progress and make informed decisions. &nbsp;</p> <p>Many companies that use time-based billing are beginning to turn to <a title="timetracking software" href="" target="_self">timetracking software</a> for its enhanced time and project management capabilities.&nbsp; The right timekeeping system allows your company to track employee time and attendance to ensure your employees' time and talents are being utilized and you have the right workforce in place. It allows department heads and projects managers to clearly see the time and resources spent on tasks and projects. More accurate time tracking means you are less likely to miss&nbsp;billable hours when it comes time to invoice.</p> <p>The project management capabilities within time tracking software help you keep up with project statuses and see how company time is distributed among clients, projects, tasks, and employees.</p> <p>Are you using spreadsheets for project management? Download the white paper Using Spreadsheets for Project Management: Understanding the Hidden Costs to see how investing in a web-based project management solution could save you money, time, and aggravation.</p> <p style="line-height: 145%;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; color: black;"><a href=";utm_source=blog%20post" target="_self"><img src=" Ebook1.png" border="0" alt="timekeeping system" hspace="3" vspace="3" /></a></span></p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 23 Jul 2010 17:08:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:48288 Funding for Manufacturers and TAA for Manufacturers<br><p>For manufacturers there are two key resources for funding and assistance.&nbsp; One is the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA)&nbsp;which can be used in the Midwest for Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.&nbsp; The other source is IMEC <a title="(Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center)" href="" target="_self">(Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center)</a> &nbsp;funding for training.</p> <p>For the last month, we have been partnering with IMEC (Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center) and have been able to offer our clients some funding through IMEC for training regarding the work flow processes in their current ERP system software, accounting software and inventory management&nbsp;training.&nbsp; This funding is available first come so if there&rsquo;s anything you think we can help you with, please contact us at 815-965-9800 and ask for Charmaine or email me at <a href=""></a></p> <p><img src="" border="0" alt="IMEC" hspace="3" vspace="3" width="188" height="37" align="left" />IMEC is a team of specialists who work with Illinois companies to be more productive and globally competitive. IMEC solutions help companies develop profitable business strategies, meet customer quality requirements, contain operating costs, increase capacity and on-time delivery, and solve technical operating problems such as product defects or process bottlenecks. We prepare the client's team to accelerate improvement and achieve results that will stick -- long term. <br /><br />Since IMEC's inception in 1996, the 1,900 companies who have called on IMEC for assistance have realized an average of $7 dollars in sales and cost saving improvements for every $1 dollar they have invested in our resources.</p> <p><img src=" Strategies.jpg" border="0" alt="Applied Strategies" hspace="3" vspace="3" width="268" height="80" align="left" />Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) is a program for companies that have been affected by import competition and want to improve their competitive position. This unique, focused source of consulting and technical service assistance offers up to $75,000 in <a href="">cost sharing</a> of projects aimed at enhancing a domestic company&rsquo;s ability to compete successfully.</p> <p><strong>If your manufacturing or service business has been impacted by import competition you should <a href="">contact </a>the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.</strong></p> <p>Applied Strategies International, LTD. (ASI), the Midwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, provides consulting services and technical assistance to manufactures in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.</p><br>Charmaine BlissWed, 21 Jul 2010 18:38:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:47158 is a chart of accounts?<br><p><img style="float: right;" src="" border="0" alt="the bean counter for accounting" hspace="3" vspace="3" />We recently had a few inquiries submitted to the Bean Counter (<a title="have a question?&nbsp;Submit it here" href="" target="_blank">Have a question?&nbsp;Submit it here</a>)&nbsp;about chart of accounts, what they are, and why they matter.</p> <p>A chart of accounts is a way of sorting the information gathered from all the activities of your business.&nbsp; It is a list of categories used to collect information.</p> <p>These categories could be something like:</p> <ul> <li>A Bank Account for all your checks and deposits</li> <li>A Sales account to accumulate all your information for invoices to you customers</li> <li>A Cost of Goods account to accumulate all the costs for the materials or goods that you sell</li> <li>Office Expenses for all the paper, ink, pens and pencils, etc that you purchase</li> </ul> <p>A Chart of Accounts organizes these categories in a certain order so that you will know the status of your business and if you are making a profit.</p> <p><a href=";utm_source=Blog" target="_self"><img src=" Chart of Accounts.png" border="0" alt="Sample Chart of Accounts" hspace="3" vspace="3" /></a></p><br>Monica GlennyThu, 15 Jul 2010 13:35:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:47477 Accounting Software System Data Conversion<br><P mce_keep="true"><IMG title="" border=0 alt="data migration issues " align=none src="" mce_src=" Issues.jpg">*</P> <P mce_keep="true">If you are&nbsp;planning to switch your accounting and ERP softwares, migrating data from your old software to the new software can present challenges if not done properly. </P> <P>To avoid any data migration issues,&nbsp;a well-planned data conversion should include:</P> <UL type=disc> <LI>Clean cutoff - In order to have a clean starting date in your new software system, you need to have a clean cutoff date in the old one.&nbsp;&nbsp;Don't enter anything in the old system that would be BEFORE the cutoff date.&nbsp; It's best if there is a way to "Close" the financial software as of that date.</LI> <LI>Run parallel- Run both of your software systems together until you're comfortable with the new software. While you're&nbsp;using both&nbsp;systems,&nbsp;pull reports and financial statements to make sure the data matches and you're getting the information you want from the new system. </LI> <LI>Don't rush. Even though it might be really tempting to switch over to the new software system, take your time. Bad data conversions are expensive. Lost data, errors, time delays, inefficiencies, and disruption of normal business operations all are potential hazards.</LI></UL> <P>Migrating from one software to another is a big project that requires proper planning. A well planned and executed conversion will get your business running on its new accounting and ERP software systems without putting your company at risk. </P> <P>Looking to switch software systems? See how Open Systems Inc makes it easy.</P> <P>Download Making the Switch:Migration from OSAS to TRAVESE Version 11</P> <P><A href=";utm_source=Blog%20post" mce_href=";utm_source=Blog%20post"><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Data Migration issues" align=none src="" mce_src=" Ebook1.png"></A></P> <P><EM>*photo credit: Stepan Mazuroy</EM></P><br>Kelli PoliskaTue, 06 Jul 2010 14:30:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:45087 you, get off of my cloud! Intuit QuickBase offers cloud computing<br><P><IMG title="" border=0 alt="SaaS project management" align=none src="" mce_src=" by Mohamed Aouichi1.jpg">*</P> <P>If you have been around the DataCraft website lately or are on our mailing list <A href="" mce_href="">(subscribe here)</A> you've probably noticed some new information surrounding Intuit QuickBase software. </P> <P>We are really excited about Intuit's CRM solution software and all the great functions and features it provides. QuickBase is a SaaS project management, CRM, sales management, and human resources software all rolled into one. </P> <P>One thing that has a lot of people excited about QuickBase is the ability to share real-time information thanks to cloud computing. There's been a lot of&nbsp;buzz about&nbsp;cloud computing and the capabilities it offers, but there's also a lot of confusion about what it is.</P> <P mce_keep="true">&nbsp;</P> <P>What, exactly, is cloud computing? <IMG title="" border=0 alt="Intuit QuickBase Cloud Computing" align=right src="" mce_src=""></P> <P>Cloud computing is a virtual network of services that can be accessed from your web browser.&nbsp;With&nbsp;cloud computing,&nbsp;your IT is managed in a secure off-site location which helps to manage the costs that tend to accumulate with operating on-premise software, such as licensing, installation, and ongoing maintenance. </P> <P>The ability to pull up important information anywhere is changing the way departments collaborate and ultimately, how small and medium sized businesses are run. </P> <P><EM>*Photo credit: Mohamed Aouichi</EM> <BR></P><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 11 Jun 2010 20:57:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:45054 Evaluation of Hidden Costs<br><P><IMG title="" border=0 alt="cost of erp implementation" align=left src="" mce_src=" runnning out.jpg">The cost of an ERP system software&nbsp;depends on many factors -- size of the company, number of ERP users, functionalities introduced to the work flow software,&nbsp;number of software modules&nbsp;implemented, condition of existing IT hardware and the ability level of the company's team.&nbsp; Costs can range from $25,000 to millions.</P> <P>About 45% of buyers experience unexpected costs that had not been initially taken into account -- Why?</P> <P><STRONG>Critical Implementation Meeting:</STRONG>&nbsp;&nbsp;The company's team should meet&nbsp;with the vendor's Project Manager and know from the beginning who's assigned to what tasks for the company and for the vendor; critical timelines to be met and consequences of not meeting those timelines; parallel date; test date; and go live date.&nbsp; When a company does not meet those timelines it equates<IMG title="" border=0 alt="ERP System software" align=right src="" mce_src=""> to the allocation of additional internal resources (costs); lost time using the new ERP&nbsp;packages (ROI); <EM>and most importantly, a decrease in the momentum of implementing the new ERP software&nbsp;system.</EM></P> <P><STRONG>Training Costs:</STRONG>&nbsp; Be sure to allow for sufficient training for your team.&nbsp; Ineffective training relates to lost functionality of the software and a poor work flow.&nbsp; Companies do not realize that with poor training they lose -- software is used incorrectly resulting in poor data.&nbsp; I see this often with ERP&nbsp;implementation in QuickBooks Premiere and Enterprise (mini ERP systems)&nbsp;users who&nbsp;state that&nbsp;they know the software but then never knew about Estimates, Sales Orders, Inventory classifications, Assemblies, On Line Banking, etc.&nbsp; What a waste of your software package!</P> <P><STRONG>Data Conversion:</STRONG>&nbsp; STOP!&nbsp; This is the biggest cost of any system.&nbsp; Do you really need it?&nbsp; Store the data in a place where people can refer back to it if they need it.&nbsp; Export the most often used data to some Excel spreadsheets and refer to it when you need to.</P> <P><STRONG>Integration Costs:</STRONG>&nbsp; How critical is it to "interface" with another system, application or function?&nbsp; And what is the definition of that "interface"?&nbsp; How will the data reach your&nbsp;accounting software, sync with the CRM system database,&nbsp;update the&nbsp;inventory and product information, or is it a simple journal entry in the General Ledger and it's really not interfacing all of the data?</P> <P><STRONG>IT Infrastructure Costs:</STRONG>&nbsp; Know the specs for your software, the capabilities your internal hardware, the cost to maintain the system internally and be aware of the fantastic outsourcing opportunities to have everything managed off site.&nbsp; Do the ROI and see for yourself.</P> <P><STRONG>Customization:</STRONG>&nbsp;&nbsp;Determine that&nbsp;there's a valid ROI before signing off&nbsp;on a customization.&nbsp; In addition, be sure to have a scope of work and hours allocated to the customization before agreeing to it.</P> <P><STRONG>KISS:</STRONG>&nbsp; Remember, keep it simple enough so that several people can learn the system.&nbsp; What if your key expert leaves?&nbsp; Don't make it too complicated.</P> <P><STRONG>Licensing:</STRONG>&nbsp; Buyer Beware!!&nbsp; There can be many license fees involved besides those of the ERP System Software -- SQL, Crystal Reports, Access, Third Party modules, etc.&nbsp; Get all of the details up front.&nbsp; The type of licensing -- packaged, concurrent, module-bases, site or location and subscription.</P> <P><STRONG>ROI (Return on Investment):&nbsp; What helps to define this?</STRONG></P> <UL> <LI>Inventory solution that reduces inventory levels.</LI> <LI>Inventory management and accuracy.</LI> <LI>Ship more orders and on time.</LI> <LI>Shrink the aging report for accounts receivable.</LI> <LI>Accurate data for margins, revenue, forecasts and budget.</LI></UL> <P>That was our last blog on this ERP Systems series.&nbsp; We hope you enjoyed it and we would love your feedback!</P> <P><A href=";utm_source=ERP%20" mce_href=";utm_source=ERP%20"><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Software Selection Guide" align=none src="" mce_src=" Selection Guide.png"></A></P><br>Charmaine BlissFri, 04 Jun 2010 13:50:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:43796 Modules<br><P><IMG title="" border=0 alt="ERP modules" align=left src="" mce_src="">Don't fall into the pit of making your ERP system software too complicated.&nbsp; Then you'll have to hire a team to use it effectively.</P> <P>An ERP system software&nbsp;is primarily an integrated suite of modules and features that can encompass financial, production, services, human resources, payroll, time entry and CRM (customer relationship management).&nbsp; The software is dependent upon how your company work flow operates, how you would like to set it up&nbsp;and how it can be incorporated efficiently and effectively into the company's environment.</P> <P>The modules your company purchases is dependent upon what is most important to the company's processes (this goes back to the beginning of our ERP blog series).&nbsp; <IMG title="" border=0 alt="erp implementation" align=right src="" mce_src="">Again, one word of advise as you continue the ERP research buying process ... Keep It Simple Stupid... the old KISS method still applies here.&nbsp; An ERP system too complicated can make your team's life miserable.&nbsp; Then what happens?&nbsp; Your team only uses 35% of the ERP system software you have, which is the national average.</P> <P>&nbsp;Typically companies are examining a combination of &nbsp;financial management, manufacturing, project management, supply chain management, product life cycle, supplier relationship or customer relationship management (CRM) software ERP modules.&nbsp; Know what your team desires and understand the resources needed from the company (not just the vendor) in undertaking an implementation of any piece of the modular ERP software.&nbsp; There's a&nbsp;commitment required from the company and the vendor and the agreed upon combination equals success.</P> <P>Industry Specific ERP software can be necessary. I spoke with a CFO from&nbsp;a large&nbsp;asphalt&nbsp;company the other day.&nbsp; They have two types of software they use -- bidding and order/job implementation.&nbsp; Due to the critical element of what can be missed in a&nbsp;bid for a highway or a bridge, there was an ROI (return on investment) for the bidding software they implemented and used habitually.&nbsp; On the other hand, if some customization is necessary, most softwares can handle that but beware that you own the code and that it is in a programmed language that can be integrated to other applications or services.</P> <P>&nbsp;Next week .... cost!</P> <P><STRONG>Which ERP System is right for your business?</STRONG> <BR><A href=";utm_source=ERP%20" mce_href=";utm_source=ERP%20"><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Software Selection Guide" align=none src="" mce_src=" Selection Guide.png"></A></P><br>Charmaine BlissThu, 27 May 2010 16:52:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:42758 ERP Software System Buyer Type Are You?<br><P><IMG style="WIDTH: 194px; HEIGHT: 251px" title="" border=0 alt="ERP System Software Buyer" align=right src="" width=175 height=347 mce_src="">Sorry for the delay in continuing our ERP system software blog series.&nbsp; We've had many inquiries.&nbsp; Let's continue to the buyer stage and try to define "what type of buyer are you".</P> <P>For ERP systems the buyer types have been defined on the basis of&nbsp; the following:&nbsp; scale and complexity of business; modularity; and industry verticals.&nbsp; What does all of that mean?</P> <P><U>Scales and Complexity of Business:</U></P> <P><STRONG>Elementary buyers </STRONG>are looking for simple ERP systems to meet their uncomplicated requirements.&nbsp; Usually the company is a growing mid-sized business and most requirements can be met with an out-of-the box ERP system that has minimal customizations.&nbsp; There may be some basic integration requirements and the business has limited IT support.</P> <P><STRONG>Enterprise buyers </STRONG>are focused on business complexity, integration, scalability and globalization.&nbsp; These buyers tend to be mid-size to large enterprises with highly complex business processes.&nbsp; A high level of customization may be required for their niche requirements.&nbsp; Sometimes an in-house IT expert is required.</P> <P><U>Modularity:</U></P> <P><STRONG>Suite buyers </STRONG>look for a complete ERP suite having all modules -- financial, production/business, and CRM (customer relationship management) to execute business processes across all departments.&nbsp; This type of buyer realizes the long-term strategic investment for the company.</P> <P><STRONG>Module buyers </STRONG>usually seek two or more ERP modules that can automate business processes for two or more departments but not the entire organization.&nbsp; This type of buyer is more price sensitive and is looking for short-term productivity gains.&nbsp; There may be significant integration with systems in other departments.</P> <P><U>Industry Verticals:</U></P> <P><STRONG>Sector-specific buyers</STRONG> have industry-specific and specialized needs that cannot be met by generic solutions.&nbsp; The company may be governed by stringent regulations or compliance.</P> <P>What type of buyer are you?</P> <P>Next week -- ERP System Modules and Features</P> <P><STRONG>What ERP System is the right fit for your company?<BR><A href=";utm_source=ERP%20" mce_href=";utm_source=ERP%20"><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Softwaer Selection Guide" align=none src="" mce_src=" Selection Guide.png"></A></STRONG></P><br>Charmaine BlissThu, 13 May 2010 18:56:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:40077 Steps to Buying an ERP System Software<br><P><IMG style="WIDTH: 136px; HEIGHT: 286px" title="" border=0 alt="10 Steps " align=right src="" width=399 height=862 mce_src="">As promised, we are continuing our series for ERP Systems.&nbsp; This is our second install of the ERP blog with more to come regarding purchasing, implementation and unexpected costs, open source, industry specific and ERP buyer survey comments. </P> <P><STRONG>10 Steps to Buying an ERP System Software</STRONG> </P> <P>Enterprise resource planning software is an integrated information management system involving financial and business software for all industry segments.</P> <P>1) <U>Do we need an ERP System</U>? Assess your existing business processes from ALL departments to identify whether there is a need for an ERP system software. Implementing an ERP system is a long-term strategic decision for the company and it alters the work flow of your company.</P> <P>2) <U>What are the goals and objectives for the selection?</U> After you meet with all company department managers, you'll be surprised to find that not everyone has the same requirements for ERP system software but they will have some very specific "must haves". Know what those are! Realize that there is not an ERP software package that can meet ALL the business requirements of a company or industry segment. I had a client that approached me at the Rockford Chamber's Manufacturing Expo and he stated, "I haven't found a software that can do all of what I want it do." That's right, there's not a "magical" software out there. Sometimes the solution is to fix some internal work flow issues.</P> <P>3) <U>Form an evaluation process</U>. Either have a company committee research what is out there that meets your requirements or hire a consulting firm to do it. Usually, it's a combination of both - functional experts from different company departments and an outside consultant.</P> <P>4) <U>Define product requirements</U>. Don't make it too difficult. Define the simple first. Is user friendly the most important? What is the skill level of your team using the software? Is inventory your biggest headache? You can purchase the best industry specific software in the world, but if it's too difficult to use, to set up and to manage then the ROI (return on investment) is not there.</P> <P>5) <U>Develop a pre-evaluation selection criteria</U>. Select the top 3 ERP packages for final selection that meets the critical business needs, matches the skill level of the users and implements the business model work flow for the company.</P> <P>6) <U>Check out your peers and competition</U>. What are some of the financial and business software packages they are using? What do they like? What do they dislike?</P> <P>7) <U>Final 3 extensive research</U>. Schedule the real time software demos (NOT a power point) for the final 3 ERP system packages. Be prepared ahead of time with the specific functions and reports that you would like to see.</P> <P>8) <U>Know the history</U>. How long has this ERP system software been around? How many times has the company been purchased? How much "red tape" do you have to go through to get the answers for fixes to software development problems that may occur after an upgrade? What language is this ERP system written in - how many platforms?</P> <P>9) <U>Flexibility</U>. How easy is it to interface with third party softwares? Do you own the Source Code after you pay for a customization? Will the customization perform easily after an upgrade?</P> <P>10) <U>Vendors</U>. Pick a vendor who can work successfully with your company's team. You have to be confident that they can carry through the implementation. Each company has its' own culture and not everyone can successfully work with that culture. Finding the right relationship and commitment is key in a vendor relationship. How long has the vendor been around? Check out their references.</P> <P>Next week we will slide into third base with our ERP System Modules and Features.</P> <P><A href=";utm_source=ERP%20" mce_href=";utm_source=ERP%20"><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Software Selection Guide" align=none src="" mce_src=" Selection Guide.png"></A></P><br>Charmaine BlissMon, 26 Apr 2010 14:29:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:38751 your ERP software system killing your business?<br>For the small to medium size business, financial/production software, or ERP systems should not be made difficult.&nbsp; Some ERP systems (Enterprise Resource Planning) create complexity and duplication of effort.&nbsp; Really, it should not be that difficult.&nbsp; Who said an ERP system had to be complicated? &nbsp;People seem to think that an ERP system is unaffordable and hard to set up and implement.&nbsp; This shouldn't be the case. <P>Eight Warning Signs</P> <OL> <LI><U>You can't get your data out.</U> You know it's in there but you have to pay some programmer to build you a report to receive the data in some type of format that you can actually use.</LI> <LI><U>Upgrades are costly, time consuming and disruptive. </U>If you haven't applied your software upgrade because you are afraid it will wipe out all of the customizations you paid for, then you are missing out on functionality and technology improvements that could help your business run more efficiently.</LI> <LI><U>Disaster recovery plan involves tape back ups.</U> Back ups should be easy, not a headache and worrisome. Yet, we always hear the stories about how the back up never took place, we couldn't restore our data from the previous back up, and now we have lost over a weeks worth of data transactions. Ouch! With virtualization, there's no need for tape back ups any longer.</LI> <LI><U>Hardware costs increase every year.</U> Can you say SaaS, Cloud, Virtualization ....</LI> <LI><U>High renewal fees.</U> What's the ROI (return on investment)? Has it been worth it in the past? How can we lower these? Do we need that many users or applications?</LI> <LI><U>Can't access data easily when traveling.</U> The system is too clunky or too costly to access remotely.</LI> <LI><U>Vendors or Customers cannot interact with the system.</U> The is very important to grow your business and become more efficient.</LI> <LI><U>Costly training for new employees</U>. Is the ERP system difficult to learn? It shouldn't be.</LI></OL> <P>DataCraft implements user friendly ERP systems software.&nbsp; Give us a call.&nbsp; We can help.</P> <P>P.S. Stay tune for three other blog series regarding ERP systems.</P> <P>What ERP System is right for your business? <BR><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Software Selection Guide" align=none src="" mce_src=" Selection Guide.png"></P><br>Charmaine BlissMon, 19 Apr 2010 13:26:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:38455 Inventory<br><p><img src="" border="0" alt="Inventory management" width="196" height="188" align="right" /></p> <p>If you're frustrated with the way inventory is (or perhaps isn't) being managed, there's a very good chance that you are not alone.</p> <p>Inventory management is something that we discuss quite a bit on the DataCraft Blog (<a href="" target="_new">check out other inventory posts here</a>)&nbsp;because we know it's a common issue among organizations, regardless of their industry.</p> <p>We'd like to take some time to offer a few white papers that have inventory solutions for inventory accuracy.</p> <p><strong><a href="">Demand Planner</a></strong></p> <p>Businesses, regardless of their size or specialization, need to estimate and monitor demand for their goods and services in order to efficiently manage their operations. Reducing uncertainty of demand can significantly help businesses keep inventory and operating costs low while improving customer satisfaction. <a href="">Download the Demand Planner white paper</a></p> <p><strong><a href="">Guide to Inventory Basics</a></strong></p> <p>Having problems with inventory accuracy? Implementing technologies such as bar coding systems, RFID, and pick-to-light are often assumed to be&nbsp;the solutions to inaccurate inventories.&nbsp;Whether you are planning on implementing&nbsp;additional systems or not you should consider taking care of the basics first.<br /><a href="">Download the Inventory Basics white paper</a></p> <p><strong><a href="" target="_new">Inventory Turnover Ratio</a></strong></p> <p>Inventory management is all about finding the right balance. Every firm has to maintain a certain level of inventory of finished goods so as to be able to meet the requirements of the business.<br /><a href="" target="_new">Download the Inventory Turnover Ratio white paper</a></p> <p>Don't let inventory inaccuracy drive you crazy, learn how effective inventory&nbsp;management can increase productivity.</p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 02 Apr 2010 16:26:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:37709 Business Accounting Software Work Flow Help Reduce Fraud<br><p><img src="" border="0" alt="key accounting ratios associated with fraud" width="443" height="237" align="right" style="width: 329px; height: 194px;" /></p> <p>A study conducted in 2007 showed that nearly 25% of business owners have been victim to fraud.</p> <p>Unfortunately, just about every company is susceptible to some sort of fraud. There are different forms of fraud ranging from check fraud to embellishing expense accounts, and third party kickbacks. The tactics differ, but the results are always the same, loss of valuable company time and&nbsp;resources.</p> <p>But that doesn't mean that they have to fall victim to it. Developers for ERP system software and accounting software systems like QuickBooks Enterprise&nbsp;are making it easier for businesses to detect fraud.</p> <p>Don't fall victim to fraud, learn how to protect your company. <a href=""><strong>Download the white paper "Protect Your Business from Fraud"</strong></a> for simple steps in how to secure your company's&nbsp;financial information.</p> <p><a href=";utm_source=Blog%20post"><img src="" border="0" alt="Fraud White Paper" align="none" /></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 26 Mar 2010 20:52:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:37418 Four of Financial Statements Preparation<br><p>We are well into March and for some that means saying hello to warmer weather and sunshine and goodbye to snow and ice. For me, it's usually dominated by one thought and one thought <img src="" border="0" alt="financial statements preparation" width="560" height="581" align="right" />only: sports.</p> <p>Not only are we inching closer to the start of the baseball season, but March Madness is in full effect.</p> <p>So what does a basketball tournament have to do with accounting basics and financial statement preparation and analysis?&nbsp;</p> <p>In honor of the Big Dance, I'd like to offer you the Final Four of Financial Statements Preparation.</p> <p>There are four financial statements needed to give a owners and investors relevant information about the company.</p> <p><strong>1) Income Statement<br /></strong>An income statement&nbsp;reports&nbsp;revenue and expenses&nbsp;over a period of time. There are two parts of the income statement: operating and non-operating.</p> <p>Investors and analysts pay special attention to the portion&nbsp;of the income statement that deals with operating&nbsp;items.&nbsp;This section&nbsp;deals with operating items gives information about revenues and expenses that are a direct result of the regular business operations. Let's use basketball as an example. If a business manufactures basketballs, then the operating items section would talk about the revenues and expenses involved with the production of the balls.<br /><br />The non-operating items section tells about revenue and expense information about activities that are not directly related&nbsp;to a company's regular operations. For example, if the basketball manufacturer&nbsp;sold some old equipment, then&nbsp;this information would be in the non-operating items section.</p> <p><strong>2) Owner's Equity Statement<br /></strong>The Owner's Equity Statement reports the chances in equity over a period of time. Retained earnings on the balance sheet are usually influenced by income and withdrawals. In order to get the information you need for the owners equity statement, which in turn provides information for the balance sheet.</p> <p><strong>3) Balance Sheet<br /></strong>The balance sheet is a snap shot of a company's financial condition and reports assets, liabilities, and equities at a given point in time. Each portion of the balance sheet let investors know what is owned and owed by the company. Assets should&nbsp;must equal total liabilities and owner's equity.</p> <p><strong>4) Statement of Cash Flows<br /></strong>The statement of cash flows shows the company's amount of cash inflows and outflows for&nbsp;a specific period of time. That cash flow statement helps to gage the financial performance of a company by asking where the cash came from, what it was used for and the change in the cash balance.</p> <p><a href=";utm_source=blog%20post"><img src="" border="0" alt="Basic Accounting Structure" align="none" /></a><a href=""></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 19 Mar 2010 18:59:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:36950 Inventory Management<br><p>Earlier this week Monica Glenny spoke at the <a href="">Belvidere Chamber of Commerce</a> Manufacturer's Appreciation Breakfast.</p> <p>The topic: inventory management. <img style="width: 354px; height: 195px;" src="" border="0" alt="effective inventory management" width="399" height="248" align="right" /></p> <p>Based on the discussion and amount of inquiries after the event, I think it's fair to say that inventory is something that is on everyone's mind.</p> <p>During Business Clarity sessions, effective inventory management is often brought up by clients, and they're issues aren't isolated to just them.</p> <p>Inventory is an issue that plagues businesses of all sizes and the same questions typically come up:</p> <ul> <li>Do we have accurate accounts of all products, materials, or parts?</li> <li>What is the physical location of each inventory item?</li> <li>What is the cost of producing each unit of product or service? </li> <li>Are we ordering appropriate quantities of inventory for future production and sales?</li> <li>Do we have any inventory that has been sitting on the shelves for years?</li> <li>Are we currently holding too much or too little inventory?</li> </ul> <p>These are all questions that can be answered with the correct&nbsp;work flow&nbsp;process and by understanding inventory ratios</p> <p>Because it is such a common pain point and has been a hot topic around here lately, we have pulled together some white papers that cover different aspects of inventory management.</p> <h4><a href=";utm_source=Inventory%20blogs%20"><img src="" border="0" alt="Inventory Management Kit" align="none" /></a><a href=""></a></h4><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 26 Feb 2010 17:57:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:36003 your accounting software work flow potential<br><P>If you've ever wondered&nbsp;how to improve&nbsp;the performance of your accounting software to make it a little faster, a little more efficient,&nbsp;and a little more functional, there are four areas you should consider looking into. </P> <P><STRONG>Integrate modules<IMG title="" border=0 alt="workflow software" align=right src="" width=197 height=265 mce_src=""><BR></STRONG>If your accounting modules are not "communicating", you may be missing out on some built-in efficiencies. For example, by integrating your accounts receivable and accounts payable modules with your bank reconciliation module, you will be able to quickly reconcile your bank statements each month. </P> <P><STRONG>Install or activate Crystal Reports<BR></STRONG>Crystal Reports is a report writer that comes bundled with many accounting packages. This powerful tool can help you write specialized reports using information from a variety of sources.</P> <P><STRONG>Customize data-entry screens<BR></STRONG>Many accounting packages allow data-entry screens to be customized for specific users. This type of tailoring can allow employees to enter data with minimal keystrokes or mouse clicks. </P> <P><STRONG>Run file maintenance periodically<BR></STRONG>File maintenance may be named differently in your accounting software. Other terminology may include "rebuild", "compact and repair", "re-index", or "synchronize". Whatever term your accounting software uses, the process of reorganizing your data files will increase the speed with which you are able to access them. </P> <P>Are you getting the most out of your software workflow? <A href="" mce_href="">Schedule a Business Clarity Session</A></P><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 19 Feb 2010 18:25:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:35546 Entrepreneurs: Check out our 2010 Winter Book List<br><P><IMG style="WIDTH: 236px; HEIGHT: 306px" title="" border=0 alt="2010 Winter book lise" align=right src="" width=604 height=896 mce_src="">We've all been hit really hard by this winter weather, so what better way to relax than with a good book? We decided to take a break from our usual accounting basics and ERP software talk to compile a book list for you.&nbsp;Check out some of our favorites that made it to our 2010 Winter list</P> <P><A href="" mce_href="">Make Today Count</A> - John C. Maxwell (Center Street) &nbsp;This is the second time Maxwell has made it onto our reading list. (<A href="" mce_href="">Check out the other time here</A>). Maxwell's book discusses the importance of making the right decision in twelve critical areas of your life, or what he refers to as the "Daily Dozen." Maxwell suggests the path to being successful starts small with making the right choices on a daily basis.</P> <P><A href="" target=_new mce_href="">The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass</A>&nbsp;-Frederick Douglass(Fall River Press) Considered a milestone in American history, <EM>The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas </EM>chronicles the life of the famous abolitionist.&nbsp;Originally published only seven years after his escape from slavery, it became an instant success.</P> <P><A href=";s=books&amp;qid=1264802346&amp;sr=8-3" target=_new mce_href=";s=books&amp;qid=1264802346&amp;sr=8-3">Common Sense</A>&nbsp;-Thomas Paine (Penguin Classics) This is the pamphlet that started it all. First published in 1776, <I>Common Sense </I>challenged the authority of the British government and the royal monarchy. What made his writing so popular? He didn't try to wow the masses with philosophy, instead he wrote for his audience, not above them, impassioning them to want&nbsp;to make a change. It's still as inspiring today as it was&nbsp;nearly 250&nbsp;years ago.</P> <P><A href=";s=books&amp;qid=1264803799&amp;sr=1-1" mce_href=";s=books&amp;qid=1264803799&amp;sr=1-1">Embrace the Struggle</A>- Zig Ziglar and Julie Ziglar Norman (Howard Books) Written after a traumatic fall that lead to a head injury <EM>Embrace the Struggle </EM>discusses the importance of optimism to get us through the hard times we all eventually face. Through his own stories and the stories of friends, Ziglar highlights "living life on life's terms." </P> <P><A href=";s=books&amp;qid=1264805092&amp;sr=1-1" target=_new mce_href=";s=books&amp;qid=1264805092&amp;sr=1-1">Exploiting Chaos: 150 Ways to Spark Innovation During Times of Change</A>- Jeremy Gutsche (Gotham Books) Hailed by many as one the best business books of 2009, <EM>Exploit Chaos </EM>takes readers on a visual journey to help ignite ideas for a successful business. Gutsche's writing style and graphics fit in perfectly with today's busy reader. Looking for inspiration&nbsp;to put&nbsp;these challenging times to good use? Check out this book.</P> <P mce_keep="true"><A href="" target=_new mce_href="">The Findability Formula: The Easy, Non-Technical Approach to Serach Engine Marketing</A>- Heather Lutze (John Wiley &amp; Sons) Ever wonder how customers are thinking when they search for a product or service? Lutze's book helps marketers at all levels of experience re-energize their website&nbsp;to make them more profitable. Her step-by-step guide to Pay-Per-Click campaigns helps to make your company visible throughout the customers' buying cycle. </P><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 12 Feb 2010 19:39:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:34466 Monthly Financial Ratios to Analyze Success, Growth<br><P><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Accounting Ratios" align=right src="" width=354 height=193 mce_src="">Your monthly business financial statements provide information about previous months' activities, but even if the statements look good, you can still bet more out of them. </P> <P>Many business owners rely on monthly financial statements plus monthly financial ratios. Ratios can be prepared from information already in your accounting software. Following are tools for measuring particular aspects of your business:</P> <P><STRONG>Liquidity:</STRONG></P> <UL> <LI>Current ratio - current assets over current liabilities.</LI> <LI>Receivables turnover - how quickly customers pay.</LI> <LI>Inventory turnover - how long your inventory sits.</LI></UL> <P><STRONG>Profitability:</STRONG></P> <UL> <LI>Profit margin - profit generated by sales.</LI> <LI>Asset turnover - sales generated by assets.</LI> <LI>Return on assets - profit generated by assets.</LI></UL> <P><STRONG>Solvency:</STRONG></P> <UL> <LI>Debt to total assets - percent of assets owned by creditors.</LI> <LI>Interest coverage ratio - ability to pay interest.</LI> <LI>Cash debt coverage ratio - ability to pay long-term debt.</LI></UL> <P>Program your accounting system to produce key accounting ratios, review them monthly and get new insight on your business.</P> <P><A href="" mce_href=""><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Accounting Basics" align=none src="" mce_src=" Accounting Button.png"></A></P><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 05 Feb 2010 20:43:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:34873 Begins with the Right Workflow Management Software<br><p><img src="" border="0" alt="workflow management" width="481" height="356" align="none" />&nbsp;</p> <p>In talking with growing businesses, we're finding a common issue&nbsp; of data reentry.&nbsp;If your employees enter and re-enter sales information in multiple software programs, it can&nbsp;slow the sales process and allows for data entry errors. But how can&nbsp;you streamline the work flow management?</p> <p>Answer:</p> <p>Procedures within the sales process may be fragmented in various ways, for example:</p> <ul> <li>Sales inquiries are received by e-mail, telephone and fax</li> <li>Inquiries are maintained on a spreadsheet</li> <li>Price quotes are calculated on another spreadsheet</li> <li>Follow-ups are maintained on yet another spreadsheet</li> </ul> <p>Most accounting software can maintain and integrate several procedures within a single program. The software applications can generate lead follow-up letters, check inventory levels and automatically reorder, forecast potential product demand and allow customers to enter orders through your Web site.</p> <p>Streamline your software system. Your business will save money, and your sales force will become more productive.</p> <p>Find the right&nbsp;small business Enterprise Resource Planning ERP software system&nbsp;and accounting software for your business. <strong><a href="">Download the Software Selection Guide</a></strong>.</p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 22 Jan 2010 21:25:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:34134 Software Scalability- Up or Out?<br><p><strong>&nbsp;<img src="" border="0" alt="Accounting Software Scalibility" width="516" height="468" align="none" style="width: 455px; height: 268px;" /></strong></p> <p><strong>What does scalability in terms of accounting software mean?</strong></p> <p>No, we are not referring to a) mountains or b) a career track. In the accounting technology world, "scalability" refers to how much or in what ways a particular accounting software package can be expanded. Usually, the term means a product's ability to grow without causing undue disruption of the processes associated with its use. "Scaling up" refers to expanding the size of the system, the number of users who can access the system, or the amount of information the system can handle. "Scaling out", on the other hand, means to increase the number or types of functions the system will process.</p> <p>Let us give you some examples.</p> <p><strong>Scaling Up</strong></p> <p>Consider a person who has decided to start a pack and send company. When the business first opens, sales, accounts receivable, checkbook reconciliation, and accounts payable can be handled with a simple accounting package on a single computer. Only the owner of the business probably accesses the accounting system. As the business grows, additional computers are added and networked so employees, in addition to the owner, can work in the accounting system. Accounting packages with the ability to "scale up" are important for businesses that plan to add users to the company's current accounting functions.</p> <p><strong>Scaling Out</strong></p> <p>As our pack and send business grows, our business owner has hired several employees and needs to process payroll on the accounting system. Also, recognizing an opportunity in the marketplace, the business expands to include production of a special packaging material. Now the accounting system needs to be able to "scale out" and increase the functions it can perform. In this case, payroll, inventory management, and job costing modules could be helpful.</p> <p>Small, privately owned companies have long been the basis for business growth in the U.S. The Small Business Administration estimates that companies with fewer than 100 employees drive 80% of the U.S. economy. DataCraft, Inc. applauds your efforts.</p> <p>Find the right&nbsp;small business Enterprise Resource Planning ERP software system&nbsp;and accounting software for your business. <strong><a href="">Download the Software Selection Guide</a></strong>.</p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 15 Jan 2010 15:39:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:33718 QuickBooks be an ERP system?<br><P><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Intuit Solution Provider" align=left src="" mce_src="">Many people use the accounting software&nbsp;in QuickBooks and forget the rest.&nbsp; For the most part, clients&nbsp;know how to use accounts receivable and accounts payable.&nbsp; What is often&nbsp;forgotten or misused&nbsp;in QuickBooks?&nbsp; That would be estimates, sales orders, sales reports and items (products and services you sell).&nbsp; </P> <P>People misunderstand the importance of using estimates (bids, grants, proposals or quotes) for follow up and profit margin tracking.&nbsp; Sales people or customer service could be entering those estimates directly into QuickBooks.&nbsp; Worried about your employees messing up your software?&nbsp; Security controls can be established so that they can't go anywhere else in the software.&nbsp; Do you know what your profit margin is per job or are you simply making journal entries and "approximating" the profit margins?&nbsp; What was the estimated versus actual revenue and costs?&nbsp; Can you set up your company's selling workflow in the software?&nbsp; You should be able to.</P> <P>Whether you sell products or services it is vital to set up items in QuickBooks.&nbsp; Why?&nbsp; The more detail you use for item lists the better your reports.&nbsp; Questions can be answered like ... Which item is my best source of income?&nbsp; Which items are my best sellers?&nbsp; Product costs and labor costs should all be set up and tracked in QuickBooks.&nbsp; Pricing?&nbsp;Set up your price levels and use those to your advantage to help control sales profit margins.</P> <P>The Sales Order tool is&nbsp;excellent&nbsp;for managing partial shipments and&nbsp;sales order fulfillment&nbsp;for inventoried&nbsp;products and their interface to purchase orders, pick lists, and packing slips in QuickBooks.&nbsp;&nbsp;</P> <P>A full&nbsp;or mini ERP implementation should take full advantage of the financial and business software your company purchased.</P> <P><A href="" mce_href="">For the above metioned QuickBooks functions, it makes a difference which QuickBooks package you have ...</A> </P> <P><STRONG>Is QuickBooks right for your company? Compare it to other leading software systems:&nbsp;</STRONG><A href="" mce_href=""><STRONG>Download the Software Selection Guide</STRONG></A> </P><br>Charmaine BlissMon, 04 Jan 2010 19:11:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:33080 Aren't Enough- Don't forget Key performance indicators<br><p><img src="" border="0" alt="Key performance indicators" width="499" height="323" align="none" /></p> <p>Now that 2010 is here, people are&nbsp;scrambling to figure out&nbsp;how&nbsp;they're going to keep their&nbsp;New Year's Resolutions. They picked out&nbsp;their personal resolutions - lose weight, quit smoking, start a hobby, save more, spend less... but what about New Year's resolutions for your business? <a href="" target="_new">How are you planning on taking what you learned in 2009 and putting it into practice for 2010 and beyond</a>?&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Coming up with goals for the New Year is great, it gives your business something to work towards, but don't let it stop there. Planning out how you're going to achieve those resolutions is just as important as the resolutions themselves. They don't always have to be grandiose tactics, sometimes it's the simple steps that keep you on track.</p> <p>Let's say your resolution is to pay more attention to the financial health of your business- take&nbsp;what we like to call "5 at 5"</p> <p>Every day at 5:00 (or whenever your day&nbsp;at the office is winding down) take five minutes to review your key performance indicators. Here are some possibilities:</p> <ul> <li>Day's cash receipts</li> <li>Days' cash disbursement</li> <li>Current ratio</li> <li>Accounts Receivable (A/R) aging</li> </ul> <p>Work your tactics into your daily routine, and your resolutions won't be as lofty as they seem.</p> <p>What are some of your business resolutions this year? Better yet, how do you plan on keeping them?</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="Basic Accounting Structure" align="left" /></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaMon, 04 Jan 2010 15:29:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:32970 Enterprise and ERP System Software?<br><p class="SolidBody"><img src="" border="0" alt="QuickBooks Enterprise Accounting Software" align="left" />Don't be confused when you hear QuickBooks and ERP system in the same sentence.&nbsp; QuickBooks Enterprise is not to be confused with QuickBooks Pro and Premier.</p> <p>The QuickBooks Enterprise Solution has been an affordable solution for our customers this year.&nbsp; It really is a mini ERP system that supports financial, manufacturing, supply chain, professional services, inventory, funding, time entry, and many other work flow processes.&nbsp; It has been a great economical solution for our customers' pocket books.&nbsp; The renewal fees are low and the software is affordable. <a href=";shortpath=docs%2fQBES+Brochure_10.pdf">QBES Brochure_10.pdf</a></p> <p>(You recall that last week we referred to the definition of an <a href="">ERP solution.&nbsp; </a>)</p> <p>The Intuit Solution Provider Program has enabled DataCraft to help grow local small and mid-market businesses through the sale, implementation and service of Intuit solutions in the manufacturing, distribution, professional services and not-for-profit industry segments.&nbsp; The implementations helped the owners of company's examine their accounting services, business work flow for the software and payroll service outsourcing.</p> <p>The mistake that is made with QuickBooks Enterprise (QBES)&nbsp;is that&nbsp;companies hire an individual/company that&nbsp;is capable of&nbsp;installing the software but does not have QBES application set up and implementation knowledge; or&nbsp;the company/individual are accountants who may have some knowledge of set up but&nbsp;are lacking in the experience to fully&nbsp;understand the work flow&nbsp;of the software.&nbsp; Be careful!</p> <p>Since 2008, <a href="">DataCraft</a> Inc. has been&nbsp;an&nbsp;Intuit<sup>&reg;</sup>Solution Provider serving the Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin area. &nbsp;Intuit Inc., the publisher of QuickBooks<sup>&reg;</sup>, is the leading provider of business and financial management solutions for small and mid-sized businesses, consumers and accounting professionals.&nbsp;</p> <p>Next week .... what is overlooked in most QuickBook Enterprise&nbsp;implementations?</p> <p>Find the right&nbsp;small business Enterprise Resource Planning ERP software system&nbsp;and accounting software for your business. <strong><a href="">Download the Software Selection Guide</a></strong>.</p><br>Charmaine BlissMon, 28 Dec 2009 20:18:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:32845 the records straight in your Accounting Software<br><P mce_keep="true">At the risk of sounding cliché, can you believe how fast this year flew by us?<IMG title="" border=0 alt="New Year by *Sally M*" align=right src="" mce_src=" Years by Sally M.jpg"></P> <P>We&nbsp;only&nbsp;have a few&nbsp;days until 2010 is in full swing.&nbsp;In just a few short days, companies will be faced with getting ready for the New year while wrapping up 2009. </P> <P>The big question we get from area businesses it "How do I handle my accounting software?"</P> <P>Many accounting packages allow a "preliminary closing" of last year's files while permitting transactions to be entered in the New Year. Here are some tips to help in the transition to the New Year:</P> <UL> <LI>Back up last year's data files.</LI> <LI>Review your software's manual for year-end activities.</LI> <LI>Hold your prior year data files open until ALL transactions have been entered in the system - including entries for income taxes.</LI> <LI>Be cautious when entering transactions - verify that you are in the proper year.</LI> <LI><STRONG>When in doubt, ask for help.</STRONG></LI></UL> <P>Closing out one year while trying to prepare for another doesn't have to be confusing. Just follow the steps above and you'll be able to close out 2009 while prospering in 2010. </P> <P><A href="" mce_href=""><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Accounting basics" align=none src="" mce_src=" Accounting Button.png"></A></P><br>Kelli PoliskaWed, 23 Dec 2009 17:31:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:32680 is an ERP system software and do I need one?<br><p>&nbsp;<img src="" border="0" alt="ERP System" width="166" height="196" align="none" />&nbsp;We receive this question a lot from our current and prospective ERP system clients.&nbsp; First let's define ERP and then let's discuss the key issues overlooked and the social issues surrounding ERP implementation.&nbsp;</p> <p>The term ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications used to refer to the manufacturing industry.&nbsp; Currently, ERP systems&nbsp;cover the core functions of a business whether they are manufacturing, non-manufacturing, not-for-profit or government.&nbsp; ERP system software&nbsp;can apply to a broad spectrum of industry segments.</p> <p>ERP&nbsp;packages usually encompass accounting (or financial functions), payroll and production functions (manufacturing, supply chain, job cost, warehouse management, inventory management, estimates, human resources, service fees, sales order, CRM, etc.).&nbsp; Ideally, an ERP system delivers a single database for the data in all of the software modules.&nbsp; There are many&nbsp;free web site services&nbsp;out there that will evaluate various ERP systems for you.&nbsp;Remember, those services also receive advertisement dollars.&nbsp;DataCraft has performed an evaluation&nbsp;within our <a href="">software selection guide</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Some key issues companies or executive committees overlook when evaluating an ERP implementation:</p> <ol> <li>What&nbsp;is the <a href="">skill level&nbsp;of my existing team in regards to software</a>?</li> <li>What resources will be required from my team for the implementation?</li> <li>What are our expectations for testing and going live with the new software?</li> <li>Is it cost effective to perform a data conversion?&nbsp; Options -- only bring over critical customer data and open transactions.&nbsp; Refer to all history in the old database.</li> <li>ERP systems do not have to be expensive.&nbsp; There are plenty of economical ERP software systems out there that range in price from $3,000 - $25,000.</li> </ol> <p>Social issues (yes, I said social issues) uncovered when implementing an ERP system:</p> <ol> <li>There is no "magical" software.&nbsp; If you have problems with your current team members or departments working in harmony, you will continue to have those problems.&nbsp; Fierce conversations are needed here.</li> <li>Set up of work flow in the software is critical, but don't make it too complicated!!&nbsp; Keep it simple!</li> <li>Don't spend a lot of money on a customization because that is the way you've always done it and even though it's inefficient you are going to keep on doing it that way.&nbsp; Nuts!</li> </ol> <p><strong>What ERP Software system is best for your company? </strong><a href=""><strong>Download the Software Selection Guide</strong></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaThu, 17 Dec 2009 15:46:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:32273 effective inventory management<br><p>Unless your company is strictly service based, someone in the business is managing some kind of inventory. <em>Or are they</em>? Do you really know the answers to the following questions:</p> <ul> <li>Do we have accurate accounts of all products, materials, or parts?</li> <li>What is the physical location of each inventory item?</li> <li>Are we ordering appropriate quantities of inventory to accommodate future production and sales?</li> <li>Do we have any inventory that has been sitting on the shelves for years - "It was a really good buy!"</li> <li>How are returned items handled within inventory?</li> <li>What inventory items generate the most profit?</li> </ul> <p><img src="" border="0" alt="inventory systems" width="389" height="246" align="right" style="width: 313px; height: 184px;" />Many small to medium sized companies struggle with their inventory tracking software. Some businesses maintain procedures for tracking inventory that are labor intensive. Usually that "labor" is diverted from other revenue-producing activities such as manufacturing, retail sales, and service calls.</p> <p>What inventory questions do you have? Knowing what information your business needs about its inventory is the first step in inventory management.</p> <p>Take time to determine your needs; you will drive money to your bottom line with proper inventory management!</p> <p><strong>Want more information about inventory management? </strong><a href=""><strong>Download the Demand Planner white paper</strong></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 11 Dec 2009 21:41:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:32221 the heck is Accounting ASP?<br><p>Last month, Microsoft&nbsp;discontinued their&nbsp;Office Accounting product and&nbsp;a lot of&nbsp;small businesses where left without accounting software to run their company.</p> <p>A recent B<a href="" target="_new">usiness Week article by Gene Marks</a> highlights Microsoft Office Accounting and the story of a business&nbsp;owner of who was one of the many that purchased the software and ultimately lost out. Marks highlights the importance of businesses knowing about&nbsp; the technology that's available to them before they make the investment. <img src="" border="0" alt="Know the accounting technology that's available before you invest" width="272" height="244" align="right" style="width: 218px; height: 195px;" /></p> <p>Lately we've been getting a lot of questions about software add-ons and accounting application service providers (also known as ASP's), what they are and how they can help with their business accounting.</p> <p>An accounting ASP is an Internet service that provides business accounting software on line. ASP accounting services range from specific functions, to fully integrated packages.</p> <p>There are&nbsp;three types of accounting ASP's:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li>Completely Web-based packages</li> <li>Desktop packages redesigned for Internet use.</li> <li>Partial accounting applications - on line bill pay, for example.</li> </ul> <p>Monthly fees typically are a flat Internet access rate plus a fee per accounting module - accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, etc. Charges typically run anywhere from $10 to $500 per month.</p> <p>If you are considering an ASP for your business accounting, make sure you weigh these factors.</p> <p>There are some distinct&nbsp;advantages of ASP's including:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li>Allows remote access to financial information.</li> <li>Cost savings over in-house software.</li> <li>Useful for businesses with multiple locations.</li> </ul> <p>With that said, there are also significant disadvantages:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li>No personal interface with accountant.</li> <li>Security issues - financial information must be protected.</li> <li>Data conversions may require manual input.</li> </ul> <p>Whenever you're looking at purchasing new accounting software, make sure you consider your business requirements first whether that is in-house or on line.<br />&nbsp;</p> <p>Know your software options- <a href="" target="_new">Download the Software Selection Guide</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 04 Dec 2009 15:20:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:31785 and Accounting basics- Some things just don't change<br><p><img src="" border="0" alt="20th Century Bookkeeping and Accounting" width="469" height="590" align="right" style="width: 203px; height: 223px;" />Monica recently brought in a book that belonged to her grandmother Gladys, <span style="text-decoration: underline;">20th Century Bookkeeping &amp; Accounting</span> by James W. Baker, published in 1919.</p> <p>As we were thumbing through the pages, we couldn't help but notice not a whole lot has changed in the world of accounting. The preface of the books starts out like this:</p> <p>"The successful business man should know what a profit will result from the transactions in connection with his business before they are completed."</p> <p>He&nbsp;goes on to say there's a connection between success and accounting. In order to make money, you need to know how to manage it... not a whole lot has changed in 90 years.</p> <p>It might not be the most fast paced and exciting aspect of business, but it's definitely one of the most important. We've preached before about knowing your numbers (<a href="" target="_new">here</a>, <a href="" target="_new">here</a>, and <a href="" target="_new">here</a>&nbsp;just to name a few) but we just can't say it enough.</p> <p>Sure, the process and speed of how we can access the information has changes, but the fundamentals haven't. There are a lot of great accounting software packages out there that have made accounting easier and more accessible to everyone to understand but what's just as important as learning the software, is learning the process behind it.</p> <p>In order to make money you need to know how it manage it... some things never change.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="Accounting Basics" align="none" /></a><a href="" target="_new"></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaMon, 16 Nov 2009 16:01:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:30654 Turnover Formula<br><p><img src="" border="0" alt="Inventory turnover calculation" width="256" height="253" align="right" style="width: 166px; height: 122px;" />Managing inventory proves to be a challenging task for many managers and requires knowledge of inventory accounting basics. While the level of inventory varies from business to business,&nbsp;a reliable&nbsp;way to tell your inventory turnover rate is to utilize inventory turnover calculation measures.&nbsp;</p> <p>The inventory turnover ratio tells you&nbsp;how liquid your inventory is- or how quickly your inventory can be converted into cash.</p> <p>This ratio measures the number of times (on average) that your inventory is sold during a given period. It also measures how quickly your inventory can be converted into cash.</p> <p>The inventory turnover ratio is calculated one of two ways.&nbsp;The most common way to calculate the ratio is:<br /><img src="" border="0" alt="inventory turnover formula" width="154" height="78" style="width: 133px; height: 67px;" /></p> <p>The second and&nbsp;more accurate way to calculate&nbsp;the inventory turnover ratio is:</p> <p><img src="" border="0" alt="Inventory turnover calculation" width="209" height="42" align="left" style="width: 205px; height: 63px;" />&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The second calculation is more accurate because&nbsp;"cost of goods sold"&nbsp;reflects&nbsp;your inventory's&nbsp;book&nbsp;value, and by averaging the inventory, you can reduce seasonal factors that influence the flow of inventory.</p> <p>Generally, a high inventory turnover ratio means that your products are selling well. But before you get too excited about a high ratio, you need to compare it to the industry standards. If your ratio is higher than other companies in your industry, it could mean that your inventory management systems are ineffective.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><a href=""></a></strong>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><strong>Download "Inventory Turnover Ratio" white paper</strong></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 30 Oct 2009 21:09:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:29762 Right Service and Support Software Saves Cash and the Environment<br><p><a href="" target="_new"><img src="" border="0" alt="blog action day" align="none" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>No one is immune from the affects of climate change. Every industry is going to feel the impact of the changing environment, and in one everyone is contributing to the changes.</p> <p>Let's look at the use of paper as an example:<br />On average each person uses 10,000 sheets of paper- that's 20 reams of paper or 1 and 1/5 of a tree per year. (<a href="" target="_new"></a>) That doesn't seem to be that much, but for an office of ten, that's 12 trees a year. An office of 50 uses 60 trees. A large business&nbsp;company of 500? That's 600 trees a year. We don't have to keep doing the math to figure out that it starts adding up after awhile.</p> <p><img src="" border="0" alt="Support Services save cash " align="right" />It's easy to say cut down the amount of paper you use, but how exactly do you do that? Finding the right marketing management software, mapping software, memory software, Microsoft&nbsp;accounting software, leaning manufacturing&nbsp;software (you get the picture)&nbsp;can cut down on paper consumption and make your business run faster. Not only that, but the right software can streamline your operations and improve efficiency by elimination paper forms. Financial management software allows you to submit and review forms electronically, getting rid of the hassle of having to dig through stacks of paper, or worse - losing the paper all together.</p> <p>There are a lot of great software systems out there that allow you to create invoices, prepare estimates, issue purchase orders, review pricing, manage inventory, update data, and create and edit invoices electronically.</p> <p>Finding the benchmark right software can do a lot for your business and help the environment. To find the right software for your company, check out the <a href="" target="_new">Software Selection Guide</a>.</p> <p>If you're ready to go completely paperless- check out <a href="" target="_new">6 Tips For A 'Paperless' Office</a></p> <p><em>photo credit: House of Sims</em></p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 16 Oct 2009 19:16:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28061 Business without cashflow is like a fish out of water<br><p><img src="" border="0" alt="A business without cash is like a fish out of water" align="right" />Fish can only be out of water for a few minutes before they stopping flopping around and start to dehydrate. The same holds true for a business without cash. Much like fish need water; your business needs a sea of cash to survive.</p> <p>Businesses require a steady stream of cash moving in and out of the business in order&nbsp;to function from day to day (ie <a href="">Cash flow</a>).</p> <p>Cashflow is used to measure your business' financial performance and is crucial in order to be solvent.&nbsp;Cash doesn't include your inventory, accounts receivable, or property. Even though all three of these can turn into cash,&nbsp;you more than likely can't&nbsp;trade excess inventory or&nbsp;the spare cubicle for goods or services.</p> <p>Be careful not to confuse cash with profit. Why? Because profit is the money a business makes after accounting for all the expenses (In other words, it's what's left over after you have used the cash to pay the bills)&nbsp;Even if a business can forecast a profitable year, if there's no cash in the short term, the business is in trouble.</p> <p>It's important that your business doesn't drowned in all the cash that's in the bank. Companies who pay attention to their cash flow statements know that if they have abundant cash on hand they are able to invest the cash back into the business in order to produce more profit.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="Cash is King" align="none" /></a><a href=";utm_source=blogs"></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaMon, 05 Oct 2009 15:00:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:27011 Ratio Definition<br><p>Yes, knowing the entire financial health of your business is great, but&nbsp;there are times when all you want to know is your company's short term liquidity, and for that the quick ratio or acid-test ratio&nbsp;is where to look.</p> <p>Here's what&nbsp;the&nbsp;quick ratio formula&nbsp;looks like:</p> <p><img src="" border="0" alt="Quick Ratio" align="center" />&nbsp;</p> <p>The quick ratio will tell you if your company is able to pay its short-term bills using your most liquid assets (cash, money in bank accounts, money market mutual funds, and US Treasury bills)</p> <p>It's like the <a href="" target="_new">current ratio</a> in the sense that it measures your ability to pay short-term debts, but it's more conservative of a measurement because it takes out inventory from your current assets. The inventory is subtracted from the current assets because some businesses can't quickly turn their inventory into cash. The current ratio can sometimes overestimate a company's ability to pay its short-term bills.</p> <p>&nbsp;For example, if current assets equal $15,000 current inventory equals $6,000 and current liabilities equal $3,000, then quick ratio amounts to: ($15,000 - $6,000)/$3,000 = 3. Since we subtracted current inventory, it means that for every dollar of current liabilities there are three dollars of easily convertible assets.</p> <p>Ideally, your company's quick ratio should be 1:1. The higher the ratio, the stronger your company is.</p> <p><strong>Learn more about inventory ratios. </strong><a href=""><strong>Download the Inventory Turnover Ratio white paper</strong></a><strong>.</strong></p><br>Kelli PoliskaMon, 05 Oct 2009 13:33:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:27116 Action Day 2009<br><A href="" mce_href=""></A><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Blog Action Day" align=right src="" mce_src="">What can one blog do to change the world? Alone, not much, but pair it with thousands of blogs from all over the world and big things can happen. <BR><BR>Last year over 12,000 bloggers and 14 million readers came together <A href="" target=_blank mce_href="">Blog Action Day</A> to change the conversation about poverty. Join us on October 15 as we take part in this year's Blog Action Day focusing on climate change. Connect with millions of others who will be working together to make a difference. <BR>One day. One Issue. Thousands of voices. <BR><BR> <OBJECT width=425 height=344><PARAM NAME="movie" VALUE=";color1=0xb1b1b1&amp;color2=0xcfcfcf&amp;hl=en&amp;feature=player_embedded&amp;fs=1"><PARAM NAME="allowFullScreen" VALUE="true"><PARAM NAME="allowScriptAccess" VALUE="always"> <p><embed mce_src=";color1=0xb1b1b1&amp;color2=0xcfcfcf&amp;hl=en&amp;feature=player_embedded&amp;fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" width="425" height="344" src=";color1=0xb1b1b1&amp;color2=0xcfcfcf&amp;hl=en&amp;feature=player_embedded&amp;fs=1"></p></OBJECT><br>Kelli PoliskaTue, 29 Sep 2009 03:40:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:26244't wait for stress tests<br><p><img src="" border="0" alt="Stress tests" width="127" height="186" align="right" /> When you read the phrase "stress test", what thoughts pop into your head? I'll go ahead and assume that they aren't very positive. Most people think that banks and businesses only undergo stress testing when they are on the brink of disaster, but stress test shouldn't be a last resort of your financial plan. <a href="" target="_new">Stress testing</a> your business investment&nbsp;keeps you competitive by allowing you to be proactive.</p> <p>The economy has changed the way we do business and the speed in which we need to adapt. Stress test can be used as financial indicators that&nbsp;allow you to prepare for the worst-case scenarios that your business can come across. It helps to cover the "what ifs" of running a business:</p> <ul> <li>"What if" our biggest customer goes out of business?</li> <li>"What if" customers start demanding lower prices? Can you meet them?</li> <li>"What if" customers start taking longer to pay you?</li> <li>"What if" sales or production levels drop?</li> </ul> <p>Stress testing your business has its benefits. It allows your business to be more adaptable to changes by providing the financial&nbsp;data you need to make quick and accurate changes to your business. Stress tests also help you formulate plans that address the "what ifs" giving you leverage when dealing with stakeholders and bankers, not to mention making you a stronger competitor.</p> <p><a href=";utm_source=blogs"><img src="" border="0" alt="cash flow" width="189" height="91" align="none" /></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 18 Sep 2009 19:33:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28058 the New Normal by Knowing Your Key Performance Indicators<br><p>The market is down and unemployment is up. We all know this; we've been hearing it every day for the past year. Many people are becoming numb to the numbers thrown at us. It's not news anymore; it's becoming the new normal.</p> <p>Some companies have decided to sit still and wait for the economy to turn around and others have started to recognize that things aren't going to change until <em><span style="text-decoration: underline;">someone makes a move</span></em>.</p> <p>These companies have stopped asking why and started asking how. They know that in <a href=";met=unemployment_rate&amp;idim=state:ST170000&amp;tdim=true" target="_new">July national unemployment was at 9.7%</a>. They're aware that it's the highest it has been in decades. They know that the GDP is down. They know this stuff already and have turned from focusing on the problem to focusing on a solution. These companies haven't become numb to the numbers; they keep them in mind while driving business forward. They know that in order to fix the problem they can't lose focus on key performance indicators like <a href="" target="_new">liquidity, solvency</a> and <a href="" target="_new">cash flow</a>.</p> <p>A solvent company is&nbsp;aware of its&nbsp;performance indicators and &nbsp;are better equipped to not just survive, but also thrive in the economy. They're doing their research looking for new growth opportunities, forging new partnerships, and taking time to focus on what they do best. Don't sit in the corner waiting out the recession. Focusing in on mere survival will make you lose sight of your overall business plan. Keeping track of your financials will give you a leg up in competition and give you time to sharpen your focus.</p> <p><a href=";utm_source=blogs"><img src="" border="0" alt="cash flow" width="181" height="99" align="none" /></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaWed, 02 Sep 2009 16:58:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28057 this workflow software was made for my business...<br><P>Often times when we research software systems for our clients, we hear them say, "This software was made specifically for our industry." While this may or may not be true, there are some things you need to consider when looking for the right software:</P> <OL style="PADDING-LEFT: 40px"> <LI><BDOES source="" software="" contain="" an="" open="" code="" or="" closed="" code?="" the=""><STRONG>Does the production software or financial accounting software contain an Open Source Code or Closed Source Code?</STRONG> In relation to software, the owner of the software can exercise control over what users can do with the software. Can you purchase the software code so that the software can be customized (open source)? If so, once those customizations are made, can you own that code? If you change vendors and did not purchase the code and you want to implement an upgrade, you have to pay for that customization all over again. Bottom line, be careful with customizations&nbsp;- you may be stuck with a vendor you don't like or you may be stuck with software that has high maintenance costs for upgrades and support.</BDOES></LI> <LI><B>What language is the business ERP software written in? Why is this important?</B> If the software isn't in a language common to the software industry, then you will probably be paying a lot for the software, the customizations, maintenance and the training. If the labor pool for programmers in this expertise is small, it could be a very expensive software system to support and train to use.</LI> <LI><B>What is the relational database infrastructure like?</B> Are the data tables relational? Relational databases use tables to store information. The model uses the relationship of similar data to increase the speed and versatility of the database. Relational databases are created using a special computer language, <A href="" target=_new mce_href="">structured query language</A> (SQL) that is the standard for database interoperability. SQL is the foundation for all of the popular database applications available today, from&nbsp;access databases to internet database structures. If the software you are thinking about purchasing does not have a relational database, it can become very difficult and time consuming to pull reports in the format you desire, or worse yet, the information may not be available at all.</LI> <LI><B>Research</B>: Find out how long the product has been around and when it had its last update. Has it kept up with the industry trends, or was it purchased by some big company but has not received a face-lift in the last three years.</LI></OL> <P>When someone states, "This software is made for your business" there's usually a big price tag associated with that. Today, many products out there can complete 85% or more of what your company does. You have to ask yourself what is the ROI (return on investment) associated with those customizations? Do the customizations solve a minor or major problem? What is the impact on the workflow management&nbsp;process if we don't have this customization? Think it through before you invest.</P> <P><A href="" mce_href="">Download the ERP and&nbsp;Accounting software source code kit</A> </P><br>Charmaine BlissFri, 21 Aug 2009 23:00:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28055 twitter tweet tweet<br><BR><A href="" target=_new mce_href=""><IMG title="" border=0 alt="DataCraft Twitter" align=left src="" mce_src=""></A> <P>It's hard to believe that it's already been a year since we've launched our new website design and started blogging.</P> <P>This past year we've been doing our best to keep you in the loop about the latest software and industry information through our blog, newsletter and news page. The next step in the process was to join the crazy, yet wonderfully informative world of Facebook and Twitter.</P> <P>We're excited about sharing and gaining new information but more so about being able to take part in the online communities.</P> <P>For all the latest information, check us out on <A href=";init=quick#/pages/DataCraft-Inc/239781885453?ref=search&amp;sid=37616333.1359371482..1" target=_new mce_href=";init=quick#/pages/DataCraft-Inc/239781885453?ref=search&amp;sid=37616333.1359371482..1">Facebook</A> and <A href="" target=_new mce_href="">Twitter (@DataCraft_Inc)</A>.</P> <P>We have a lot of stuff coming up but we would love to hear from you. If there's anything you'd especially like to see, please let us know.</P><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 14 Aug 2009 22:49:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28054 grassroots stimulus plan- helping small businesses<br><p>In an article on <a href="" target="_new"></a>, <a href="" target="_new">SBA</a> chief Karen Mills said, "it is the small businesses that are going to drive the economy and the recovery.... We're the popular kids at the dance."</p> <p>While some business owners are feeling ignored by the stimulus package offered by the government, others are feeling a lot of love from the "people's stimulus package."</p> <img src="" border="0" alt="Buy Local programs have gained momentum since the beginning of the recession" width="231" height="159" align="right" /> <p>Buy local programs have been popular in some areas for a while but since the recession, they've been gaining momentum all over the country. From Portland, Maine to Seattle, people are really beginning to rally behind grass root efforts.</p> <p>Big changes come from small steps. According to the <a href="" target="_new">American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA)</a>, each dollar spent at a local business generates three times more money back into the local economy compared to a dollar spent at a chain store- that means more tax revenue and lower taxes.<a href="" target="_new"></a> reported that business owners in New England are taking on the "10% Shift" to show consumers that just by spending 10% of your spending on local businesses can have a noticeable impact.</p> <p>But is it actually working? Yes. According to a survey of 1,100 retailers by Institute for Local Self-Reliance, businesses that participated in a grass roots campaign only saw a 3.2% average drop of sales, compared to 5.6% by companies who didn't participate.</p> <p>Bigger corporations are starting to notice. Even Wal-Mart has started to hang "Local" banners over produce aisles to entice shoppers. Before we get wrapped up in all of the numbers, let's not forget that local campaigns are also good for the environment. Local businesses take up less land, carry more locally made products and are closer to residents, reducing traffic and pollutants.</p> <p>Visit <a href="" target="_new"></a> to see what communities around you are adopting buy local campaigns, and how to get started with one of your own.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="Basic Accounting " align="none" /></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 07 Aug 2009 23:23:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28053 for more- Books worth checking out (Part II)<br><p>By now, you've probably finished reading everything in our <a href="" target="_new">winter book list</a>, and with summer in full swing, we thought we would give you some more titles worth checking out. So grab an iced cold beverage of your choice and one of these books to wrap up a warm summer day...</p> <a href="" target="_new"><img src="" border="0" alt="21 Laws of Leadership" height="118" align="right" /></a> <p><a href="" target="_new">The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership</a> by John C. Maxwell (Thomas Nelson)<br />With over 30 years of leadership experience, Maxwell has learned a thing or two about what it takes to be a great leader. He's compiled the ups, downs, ins, and outs to create this revealing study in the culture of leadership.</p> <p><a href="" target="_new">The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive</a> by Patrick Lencioni (Wiley, John &amp; Sons, Incorporated)<br />This is the third book written by Lencioni to make it to our book list (the other two are listed here); needless to say we really like this guy's stuff. Lencioni's book follows two fictional technical consultants and their competing companies to show how less politics, lower turnover, more productivity, and higher morale can improve an organization's health.</p> <p><a href="" target="_new">Beneath the Armor</a> by Ole Carlson (Influencemany)<br />If you've been watching <a href="" target="_new">Monica's videos</a> , chances are you've heard of the book before. Considered a must-read for CEOs, Beneath the Armor identifies seven strategies defined by your most successful peers that will provide you a road map to position you at eye level with your worldwide, giant competitors.</p> <a href="" target="_new"><img src="" border="0" alt="Mona Lisa " width="78" height="118" align="left" /></a> <p><a href="" target="_new">The Mona Lisa Stratagem: The Art of Women, Age, and Power</a> by Harriet Rubin (Grand Central Publishing)<br />Who said life ends at 40? Rubin finds inspiration in the Mona Lisa's timeless beauty and mystery to reveal an approach for finding fulfillment in midlife and after. Rubin uses 10 iconic women in history to help women find the true meaning of leadership and power.</p> <p><a href="" target="_new">You're Not the Person I Hired! A CEO's Survival Guide to Hiring Top Talent</a> By Janet Boydell, Barry Deutsch, and Brad Remillard (Authorhouse)<br />Your company is only as strong as its weakest link. You're Not the Person I Hired! uncovers the most common causes for executive and managerial failure. The book helps you learn what to look for when hiring top talent and how to avoid hiring mistakes.</p> <a href="" target="_new"><img src="" border="0" alt="No Asshole Rule" width="78" height="121" align="right" /></a> <p><a href="" target="_new">The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace by Surviving One That Isn't</a> by Robert I. Sutton (Grand Central Publishing)<br />Jerks, nincompoops, idiots, nitwits, assholes; whatever you call them, we've all had to put up with them at one time or another another and no matter what your term is to describe them; they're never fun to deal with. Sutton's straight-to-the-point book identifies them as a leading cause in the drop of business morale and calls them poison to the work environment. More importantly, Sutton tells you how to deal with them to create a more positive and productive workforce. He even includes a test to determine if you are among the assholes and gives advice on how to change your ways.</p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 24 Jul 2009 19:57:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28051 Out Main Street with Small Business Help<br><P>Small business support&nbsp;has finally arrived in the form of <A href="" target=_new mce_href="">America's Recovery Capital (ARC) Loan Program</A>.</P><IMG title="" border=0 alt="American Recovery Act" align=right src="" mce_src=""> <P>The ARC program, passed with the <A href="" target=_new mce_href="">Stimulus Act</A>, American Recovery Actis aimed to help established small businesses that are currently facing financial hardship. ARC allows small business to apply for a loan worth up to $35,000--with a 100% guarantee from the SBA to cover existing debt.</P> <P>The interest-free small business loans give borrowers up to five years to pay back the principal, allowing them to increase their cash flow and invest it back into their businesses. In order to be eligible for the ARC loan, the SBA is requiring that businesses show proof of "change in financial condition" including difficulty making rent, payroll, or loan payments, and frozen credit lines. Businesses must have a record of positive cash flow in at least one of the past two years. (For more information on loan requirements, check out the SBA website- <A href="" target=_new mce_href="">ARC Loan Eligibility</A>)</P> <P>According to <A href="" target=_new mce_href=""></A> , lenders approved 72 loans during the first week of the program, totaling $2.4 million.</P> <P>Despite the numbers, many lenders are still hesitant to latch on to the program - with a 60% default rate expected; they are wary of how quickly they will receive payments from the SBA. Still, the SBA encourages potential borrowers to seek out ARC loans from area lenders.</P> <P>The program started June 15 and will run until September 30, 2010 (or until the funds run out), and the SBA estimates that 10,000 businesses will receive loans in that amount of time. </P><IFRAME height=75 src="" frameBorder=0 width=75 scrolling=no></IFRAME><A href="" mce_href=""><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Accounting Basics" align=none src="" mce_src=" Accounting Button.png"></A><br>Kelli PoliskaWed, 08 Jul 2009 16:08:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28044 for a small business loan? Know what your lenders expect..<br><P>If you're a small business owner, there's no use in asking for a loan, right? We've been told repeatedly that it's nearly impossible to receive credit and many simply take it as a fact because it's what they've heard so many times from other business owners.</P> <P>But what if the opposite was true, what would business owners say if there was money just waiting for worthy borrowers to ask for it...</P> <P>I know it sounds like the beginning of an infomercial, but it's true...</P> <P>"The money is there but there's no demand, fewer people are asking for loans." Brenten Witherby, loan officer for <A href="" target=_new mce_href="">RLDC</A> said.</P> <P>According to a Barlow survey cited in the New York Times article <A href=";ref=smallbusiness" target=_new mce_href=";ref=smallbusiness">To Get a Business Loan, Know how the Banks Think</A>, 70% of small businesses hadn't applied for any credit this past year.</P> <P>Witherby suggests that fear is the reason for the decrease in applications coming into his office, and that many are waiting to see what the future holds before seeking out any loans.</P> <P>There's no need to be afraid to ask... as long as you come prepared.</P> <P>Before a lender will sign off on anything, they need to know more than how much money you want.</P> <P>"Do your homework," Witherby advises. "It's all about having a good plan that recognizes and addresses challenges."</P> <P>Lenders want to know how you plan to use the loan, and more importantly, how you plan to make money to pay it back. This is where knowing the financial health of your company can open (or close) the door on your future small business loan needs. </P><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Not knowing the financial health can close doors for your business. Photo by leedsyorkshire" align=left src="" mce_src=" closed door.jpg"> <P>Business owners need to understand the importance of cash flow -<A href="" target=_new mce_href="">cash flow is king</A> after all - and current cash flow projections. Owners also need to present gross annual sales, revenue, and account balances.</P> <P>Having a firm grasp on your financial health shows that your business is able to see the trends and adjust accordingly- making lenders more likely to help you. While some owners feel like they're jumping through hoops throughout the entire bank&nbsp;loan process, it's for their best interest.</P> <P>"Jumping through hoops to you, is due diligence to me," Witherby said. "We want to make sure that the company is in the best shape possible. At the end of the day, they're happy with the hoop jumping."</P> <P>The money is out there, you just need to know how to ask.</P> <P>Before asking for a loan, make sure you know your numbers- <A href="" mce_href=""><STRONG>download Basic Accounting Structure</STRONG></A> for free </P><IFRAME height=75 src="" frameBorder=0 width=75 scrolling=no mce_src=""></IFRAME><br>Kelli PoliskaTue, 23 Jun 2009 23:16:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28912 flow is King<br><img src="[1]AMagill.jpg" border="0" alt="cash flow" align="right" /> <p>Just last month, <a href="" target="_new">Business First</a> reported that nearly half of business owners have been experiencing cash flow problems these past three months. While the state of the economy can bear some of the blame, the importance of cash flow is something that many business owners greatly underestimate.</p> <p>So what exactly is cash flow and why is it so important? A company's cash flow is the revenue stream that changes a cash account, or simply, the movement of cash in and out of a business.</p> <p>Cash flow management&nbsp;is crucial for a business's survival. Sufficient cash flow means that you have enough money on hand to pay creditors, employees, and other emergency bills that might pop up along the way. Having ample cash flow also gives you the opportunity to use the extra cash to expand your business. On the flip side, having little to no cash flow means that your company may be on the verge of bankruptcy.</p> <p>Cash&nbsp;flow analysis&nbsp;can be classified into three separate areas- operational cash flow, investing cash flow and financing cash flow.</p> <p>Operational cash flow comes from a company's internal business activities (sales, labor, and purchase of materials). Cash that's received from the sale of long-term assets, or spent on investments is called investing cash flow (purchasing capital). Financing cash is cash that comes from the issuance of debt and equity like loans, loan repayments, and ownership shares.</p> <p>All three of these categories equal the net cash flows that are necessary to reconcile the cash balance.<br />Here's a quick example of a positive $550.00 cash flow.</p> <img src="" border="0" alt="positive cash flow" align="none" /> <p>A Cash flow Statement tells a company's story. It helps the owners not only reflect on the financial health, but also allows them to budget for the future. It truly is the lifeblood of every business.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""></a><a href=";utm_source=blogs"></a><a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="Accounting Basics" align="none" /></a>&nbsp;<a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="Cash flow" align="none" /></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaWed, 10 Jun 2009 17:43:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28041 and Credits: Round 3<br><p>Ding! Ding! Ding! It's time for the third and final round of the Debit and Credit Showdown, which means you're one step closer to understanding debits and&nbsp;credits. During <a href="" target="_new">Round 1</a>, we learned some of the big punches that debits and credits pack. In <a href="" target="_new">Round 2</a>, we bobbed and weaved our way around the double-entry system, and for Round 3 it's time to pull out our big guns because we're going to knock out the recording process.</p> <p>There are three steps to the recording process:</p> <ul> <li>Analyze how transaction affects accounts</li> <li>Adding debits and credits to a journal</li> <li>Transfer journal information into ledger account.</li> </ul> <p>Thankfully, we can enter this information into our financial management software once, and it takes care of everything else instantaneously. But in order to truly understand how it works, it is best if we understand what goes on behind the scenes.</p> <p>The most important part of that process is to understand how the transaction will affect the debits and credits.</p> <img src="" border="0" alt="adding debits and credits to a journal" align="none" /> <p>Let's say you invest $10,000 into your boxing glove company- Acme Boxing Gloves. First, we would debit cash to show an increase of an asset, and we credit owner's equity to show increase of capital.</p> <img src="" border="0" alt="cash receipts journal" align="none" /><img src="" border="0" alt="Equity capital" align="none" /> <p>The second step is to record the transaction into a journal. The general journal requires the date of the transaction, the name of accounts affected, the amount debited/credited and an explanation of the transaction. Let's use this as an example: You invest $10,000 into Acme Boxing Gloves (ABG), and then purchase some equipment for $5,000 and office necessities for $1,500 both with cash. You then purchase additional equipment for $1,200 and office supplies for $300 all on an account. It would look something like this in your journal:</p> <img src="" border="0" alt="Accounting Journal Entries" align="none" /> <p>Seeing how the transactions are recorded in the journal helps to understand that "law of conservation" effect we talked about in Round 2.<br />The third step is to transfer all of the entries into a ledger, which contains the sum of all of your T-Accounts. Acme Boxing Glove's Cash account would look like this:</p> <img src="" border="0" alt="journal entry accounting" align="none" /> <p>In the cash account you enter all cash inflows and outflows for the period into the T-Account under either debit or credit. After adding each side together, the cash account should have a debit balance of $3,500. That means that during that specfic point in time, Acme Boxing Gloves has a cash balance of $3,500.</p> <p>It may not have been a total knock out, but if you made it through these 3 rounds and came out with a better understanding of debits and credits, you've won the fight. If not, there's always a chance for a rematch, just make sure you train properly.</p> <p> <object classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" width="425" height="344" codebase=",0,40,0"> <param name="src" value=";hl=en&amp;fs=1" /> <param name="wmode" value="opaque" /> <param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="344" src=";hl=en&amp;fs=1" wmode="opaque" allowfullscreen="true"></embed> </object> </p> <p><a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="Accounting Basics" align="none" /></a></p> <p><a href=""></a>&nbsp;</p><br>Kelli PoliskaTue, 02 Jun 2009 23:22:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28037 and Credits: Round 2<br><P>In <A href="" target=_new mce_href="">Round 1</A>, we learned the very basics of debits and credits, but this time around, we're going to step it up a notch. If you need a quick refresher, take a second to look over what we discussed last time.</P> <P>To start this round we'll talk about the T-Account, which consists of three parts- the title, the left side (aka debit), and the right side (aka credit). It's called a T-Account because in its most basic form, it looks like a "T"</P><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Debits vs Credits" align=none src="" mce_src=""> <P>Any time you enter an amount on the left side, you debit the account, and any time you enter an amount on the right side, you credit the account (remember from last week that&nbsp;increases in assets&nbsp;or&nbsp;decreases in liabilities are debits and vice-versa for credits).</P> <P>Remember the law of conservation? It says that matter cannot be created or destroyed, and the same holds true when you're talking about money. We can't just pull money out of thin air (unfortunately) and place it into an account. You have to take it from one account to put into another, which is why each transaction you make affects multiple accounts. It also means that debits must equal credits after every transaction.</P> <P>In order to keep track of the debits and credits, the double-entry system (and chart of accounts) was created. With the double-entry system, any amount entered into the accounting records shows up in two different places.</P> <P>Let's use this as an example: Your business company makes and sells boxing gloves and you make a sale. When a customer pays cash for the gloves, an account would show the cash received in the Cash account (as a debit) and in the Sales account (as a credit).</P> <P>Using the double entry system has its benefits because it helps to spot any errors that might pop up when making entries.</P> <P>If you can remember all of this, you're ready for Round 3- The recording process. </P><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Credits " align=none src="" mce_src=" Junction.jpg"> <P><FONT color=#0000ff></FONT><A href="" mce_href=""><IMG title="" border=0 alt="accounting basics" align=left src="" mce_src=" Accounting Button.png"></A><BR></P><br>Kelli PoliskaTue, 26 May 2009 19:22:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28036 and Credits: Round 1<br><P>Ok, so the showdown isn't debits versus credits, its debits and credits versus our understanding of them... or lack thereof. Hopefully by the end of this match you'll come out victorious.</P> <P>With that said- <A href="" target=_new mce_href=""><B>LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!</B></A></P> <P>Any good boxing coach will tell you two things. The first is to get to know your opponent, so that's exactly what we'll do and the best way to do that is to throw out everything that we think we know about them.</P> <P>Why? Because in the world of bookkeeping and accounting analysis, they mean the opposite of what you might be thinking.</P> <P>Which brings us to the second thing a boxing coach would tell you: never underestimate your opponent...</P> <P>For example: if you go to the bank and deposit money, the teller will tell you that you have credited your account. On the flip side if you go to your bank and withdrawal money, the teller will tell you that you have debited your account. But that is not the case in the accounting world...</P> <P>Despite what you might be thinking, debit doesn't mean loss and credit doesn't mean gain. The true meaning of debit and credit are actually very simple, debit means left and credit means right on a T-Account (don't worry, we'll cover T-Accounts more in Round 2).</P> <P>Debits are account entries that result in the increase of an asset or decrease in a liability.</P> <P>Credits are account entries that result in the increase of a liability and the decrease of an asset. </P><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Basics of Debits and Credits" align=none src="" mce_src=" table1.png"> <P>Remember from <A href="" target=_new mce_href="">before</A>: Assets are what your business owns, liabilities are what your business owes.)</P> <P>So why does the bank tell you that you credited your account when you put money in? It helps if you think of it from their end. When you deposit money into the bank, their liability to you increases, meaning it's a credit. When you withdraw money, the bank reduces their liability to you, which means it's a debit. It's tricky I know, but just remember that banks are thinking of their assets and liabilities, not the other way around.</P> <P>That's it for the first round. Next round, we'll talk about the double entry system. Here's a little hint to give an edge: debits must equal credits for each transaction.</P> <P><A href="" mce_href=""><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Basic Accounting Structure" align=none src="" mce_src=" Accounting Button.png"></A></P><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 15 May 2009 23:25:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28035 of Credit<br><p><a href="" target="_new">Last week</a> we talked about the importance knowing your way around the world of finance and resources that can help you with that, but just as important as knowing the latest information about the economy is knowing how it all got started in the first place.</p> <p><a href="" target="_new">Jonathan Jarvis</a>, graduate student at <a href="" target="_new">Art Center College of Design</a> in Pasadena California, put together the awesome video as part of his thesis.</p> <p>Watch, learn, and enjoy.</p> <p> <object classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" width="400" height="225" codebase=",0,40,0"> <param name="src" value=";;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=0&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1" /> <param name="wmode" value="opaque" /> <param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="400" height="225" src=";;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=0&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1" wmode="opaque" allowfullscreen="true"></embed> </object> </p> <p><a href="" target="_new">The Crisis of Credit Visualized</a> from <a href="" target="_new">Jonathan Jarvis</a> on <a href="" target="_new">Vimeo</a>.</p><br>Kelli PoliskaThu, 30 Apr 2009 17:31:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28032 the Language of Finance Management<br><p><img src="" border="0" alt="Learn the language of finance management" align="right" />No matter where you turn, talk of the gloomy economy is everywhere. The longer the conversation continues the more heated and upsetting it becomes, especially when we hear about the irresponsible acts of others.</p> <p>Perhaps even more maddening than the reckless behavior of others is the fact that a lot of us (whether we'll admit it or not) don't really know what the heck they're talking about. What we need is a translator, but since most of us can't afford to hire an economist to help us wade through the jargon of the financial world, we're going to have to turn to some alternative resources.</p> <p><a href="" target="_new">Wikipedia</a>- C'mon, who doesn't love Wikipedia? It's user friendly and has information on just about any topic you can think of. Plus the summary gives the basic information for beginners and goes into greater detail for those who need it.</p> <p><a href="" target="_new">360 Degrees of Financial Literacy</a>&nbsp;- This site focuses a lot on personal finance, but dies have some good information for business entrepreneuers. The <a href="" target="_new">Financial Guide Book</a> is an excellent online tool for people who want a simple guide to understanding the world of personal finance. The guide is easy to read and is full of great information, not to mention live link to other great resources. There is also a Life Stages section that has useful information for every financial juncture of your life.</p> <p><a href="" target="_new">Investopedia</a>- Investopedia is all about the world of finance. There's a great dictionary that covers topics from acronyms and buzz words to tech analysis and taxes. What's great about the dictionary is that Investopedia breaks down the definitions so they're easy for you to understand. There are also great articles and tutorials to help you along the way.</p> <p><a href="" target="_new">SBA</a>- The Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent agency of the federal government that works to protect the interests of small business owners. has a wealth of resources to help you navigate through the financial world and has great resources for growing your business including small business bookkeeping.</p> <p><a href="" target="_new">Wall Street Journal</a>- When people want news about the economy, a lot of them turn to none other than the Wall Street Journal. Sifting through the entire paper is a daunting task, but luckily they have an online edition that has a lot of great content. The bad news: you need to have an online subscription to read a lot of the articles. The good news: at $1.99 a week it's relatively inexpensive.</p> <p><a href="" target="_new">Forbes</a> Forbes is claimed to be the world's most widely visited business websites, and we can see why. It offers real time reporting, analysis, and reporting. It's a strong online community for business owners and just like the print magazine, features lists of billionaires and their possessions.</p> <p><a href="" target="_new">Bloomberg</a>, <a href="" target="_new">Yahoo!Finance</a> and <a href="" target="_new">MSN Money</a> - Probably the best way to continue understanding the world of finance is to keep up to date on what's happening. These are just some of many websites that offer this kind of information, but they are some of the most top visited financial sites on the Web. They offer some great information on personal finances and have up-to-date news feeds and stock information.</p> <p>And don't forget about blogs! Blogs are great ways to find out information you just have to be sure that it comes from a trusted resource. <a href="" target="_new"></a> has a great list of the top 100 personal finance blogs.</p> <p>In times like these, it's easy to get frustrated and angry when the topic of conversation turns to the dismal state of the economy but getting doesn't solve anything. Instead, take some time to learn about what's going on around you. The best thing we can do is keep our wits about us.</p> <div style="clear: both;"></div> <a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="Basic Accounting Structure" width="172" height="95" align="none" /></a><br /><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 24 Apr 2009 22:23:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28030, really, why did I want to own a business?<br><p>It's been 15 years since Monica and Jon partnered up to purchase DataCraft and throughout those years they've seen many ups and downs. Recently, Monica decided to share some of her experiences at the <a href="" target="_new">Belvidere Area Chamber of Commerce</a> Women's Business Breakfast Network. We've decided to share that insight with you, below is her speech from the event.</p> <img src="" border="0" alt="Monica Glenny" align="right" /> <p>No, really, why did I want to own a business? In thinking back to my decision to buy DataCraft with my father in 1994, I don't know that I really remember WHY. It probably had something to do with thinking it would be kind of cool to work with my dad - someone for whom I had a lot of admiration (and who had worked at DataCraft since 1978) - or maybe I thought it would be easy, or I might have thought that I would have a lot more time to spend with my family, or "it's now or never..."</p> <p>Whatever I was thinking, I absolutely know that it sounded nothing like, "Wow, I could really learn a lot by owning a business!" As it turns out, that's exactly what I should have thought.</p> <p>Here's the lesson I've learned:</p> <p>I need to be open to accepting a LOT more lessons. I could sit down now and leave you with that, but I'll share some specifics in three categories...</p> <ol style="padding-left: 18px;"> <li>Fears</li> <li>Tears</li> <li>Cheers</li> </ol> <p>Travel back 15 years with me to visit Sunday evening, February 13, 1994.</p> <p>Just into my thirties, I was expecting our second child - due in September - with my husband Stuart. My parents and my sister gathered at our big old farm house to celebrate my mom's birthday. "The Men" had just left to pick up a pizza when the phone rang. Strangely, it was one of my father's co-workers at DataCraft looking for my my house... What she told me didn't register immediately but changed the course of our lives. Don Craft, founder and president of DataCraft had died that afternoon...AT WORK...alone...of a heart attack. The co-worker and her husband had found him...</p> <p>The next four months involved watching my father lose upwards of 25 pounds while holding the business together for Don's widow, leaving my job (with REALLY great benefits) as Controller of Liebovich Bros., Inc. in Rockford, negotiating a purchase price for DataCraft, and closing the deal in mid-June.</p> <p>During the following three months we visited and reassured clients, tried to understand all aspects of our new investment, and began learning about our new roles. I went to my prenatal appointments, and went to client open house events, and delivered a healthy little girl - Tara - on September 23, and took a two-week maternity "leave" during which my father brought work to me at home.</p> <p>Then, to wrap up 1994, two (of only four) employees of them to take clients with her. My sister got married; my daughter Carolyn and I were in the wedding. My mother and her four sisters sold the family "centennial" farm near Galena where they were raised. Tara - alternating with the breast pump - went to work with me daily so I could continue nursing.</p> <img src="" border="0" alt="Jon Boettner" align="right" /> <p>1994...the kind of year we never, ever want to repeat!</p> <p>Sometime, during the blur of 1994, I found the following quote by business author Ted Frost in a box of Don Craft's papers at work:</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;">"So you're in business for yourself, huh?<br />Well, just keep this in mind:<br />Your customers may plague you with complaints,<br />Your employees may walk out in your busy season,<br />Your relatives may walk off with your profits,<br />But cheer up - it's only a game!<br />(Too bad if you lose.)"</p> <p>Yes, it seemed like my new business partner and I were off on a grand adventure... So, on to the fears, tears, and cheers:</p> <p><strong>FEARS:</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;Short story writer Katherine Mansfield said:</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;">"Risk! Risk anything!<br />Care no more for the opinions<br />Of others, for those voices.<br />Do the hardest thing on earth for you.<br />Act for yourself. Face the truth."</p> <p>Well, the truth is that before I became a business owner, I didn't know how many things I could possibly be afraid of! These are some of the fears I've encountered over the last 15 years:</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>About my family:</strong></p> <ul> <li>If I take any time off for family and fun, I might return to a disaster or disasters at work!</li> <li>If I keep working these hours, I will miss a lot of important events in my daughters' lives.</li> <li>I won't have enough time to get "everything" - meaning work at home - done.</li> <li>I'll lose our house!</li> <li>My husband will be jealous / threatened / intimidated by my business.</li> <li>The business will literally kill my father!</li> <li>My family relationships will be ruined.</li> </ul> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>About my self esteem:</strong></p> <ul> <li>I'm not smart enough.</li> <li>I won't be able to keep my head in the game.</li> <li>I'm not strong enough.</li> <li>I'm going to keep making the same mistakes over and over and over and...</li> </ul> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>Staff fears:</strong></p> <ul> <li>If I delegate the work, it won't get done correctly.</li> <li>We won't be able to find the right talent.</li> <li>If we find the right talent, we won't be able to AFFORD them!</li> <li>What if they steal from us?</li> <li>What if they don't like me...?</li> </ul> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>General feelings of terror:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Having a feeling of impending doom.</li> <li>We're going to lose all of our clients!</li> <li>We're growing too slowly...we'll run out of money.</li> <li>We're growing too QUICKLY...we'll run out of money</li> <li>I'm going to be a failure.</li> <li>...and my personal favorite fear...What if I succeed?</li> </ul> <p>I wrote in my "business" journal in May of 2000: "This whole growth thing is a little terrifying!" Yes, it can be... Now, don't think that I consider all - or even ANY - of these fears rational; fear usually isn't. What I've learned by facing these fears - and a ridiculous number of others - is that the fear of public speaking and death are NOTHING compared to the fears in the heart of a business owner.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Now the <strong>TEARS</strong>:</p> <p><br />"There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers." Saint Teresa of Avila, 16th century Carmelite nun, said this. I've cried about business so many times that it seems silly - and painful. I've cried about:</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>Family - the painful:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Realizing that my father isn't "all that and a bag of chips"; he's just another human being. At one point, I was so mad at him that I mentally sent my "father" to the Aleutian Islands where he was stationed in the Air I could deal with my "partner".</li> <li>Confusing family conversations with business conversations is a REALLY bad idea.</li> <li>At times, family relationships have deteriorated.</li> <li>Missing my sister's birthday because I was at work fixing someone else's mistakes.</li> <li>Coming home from work really late more than I ever imagined I would.</li> </ul> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>My self esteem</strong> -these are the HARDEST realizations:</p> <ul> <li>I'm not "all that and a bag of chips"!</li> <li>Yeah, that fear of not being smart enough...</li> <li>Periodically, I have lost focus and not kept my head in the game.</li> <li>Being faced with a depressed and angry business partner who happened to also be my father.</li> <li>Travelling through my own depression.</li> <li>Making the same mistakes over and over and over and...</li> <li>Working for a lunatic - MYSELF!!</li> </ul> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>Staff</strong> - these are the ridiculous and comical:</p> <ul> <li>Having former staff members steal clients. Holding on to employees too long after they have quit working...yes, it happens.</li> <li>Hiring the wrong people.</li> <li>Firing the people that should have never been hired.</li> <li>Learning that one of our employees was in jail yeah, that background check would have been a good idea!</li> <li>Having a new employee show up for work the first day only to quit before even entering the building.</li> <li>Getting back from vacation to be told that an employee quit while I was gone...and... the most unnerving -</li> <li>Being cussed out by an employee after I sincerely said, "Good morning! How's it going today?"</li> </ul> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>Crying over money:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Experiencing a client leaving town and never paying us.</li> <li>Providing really great service just to be beaten down on price.</li> <li>Holding on to clients who just drain the resources out of the business.</li> <li>Personally covering the cash flow of the business.</li> </ul> <p>and...</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>I've cried just because:</strong></p> <ul> <li>I was so darn tired,</li> <li>I was overwhelmed,</li> <li>I was frustrated to learn that I really COULDN'T do everything,</li> <li>I underestimated the negative impact of change.</li> </ul> <p>And...finally...the <strong>CHEERS</strong> -</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;">Every day...</p> <ul> <li><em>I</em> get to choose to succeed!</li> <li><em>I</em> get to build a business!</li> <li><em>I</em> get to make the difficult choices!</li> </ul> <p>In her poem "Aspiration" - Emily Dickinson shares:</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;">"We never know how high we are<br />Till we are called to rise;<br />then, if we are true to plan,<br />Our statures touch the skies."</p> <p>Here are just a few of the things I've celebrated...</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>Clients:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Working with successful clients and celebrating their successes with them.</li> <li>Helping companies prosper.</li> <li>Clarifying financial information for clients so they can make intelligent business decisions.</li> <li>Listening to clients' dreams for their businesses.</li> <li>Developing and building our trademarked process Business Clarity&reg;.</li> </ul> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>Staff:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Experiencing the satisfaction of throwing an uncooperative former employee out of my business (I have to admit that this is a little vengeful!)</li> <li>Knowing that really talented people can be found with a lot of persistence and some really great evaluation tools.</li> <li>Learning to understand employees' strengths and focusing on THAT rather than their weaknesses.</li> <li>Finally, FINALLY getting a business team together who support each other at work and in life. </li> </ul> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>Building my self esteem:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Learning, learning, learning...</li> <li>Taking control of situations in which I KNOW I'm right.</li> <li>Trusting my gut.</li> <li>Realizing how desperately I needed help with balance and refusing to ever travel that path again.</li> <li>The joy of having conversations with brilliant business minds...I read a LOT.</li> <li>Learning to lead with COURAGE...this doesn't mean without fear. </li> </ul> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>Best of family:</strong></p> <ul> <li>I have a really great husband who's also a business owner - he 'gets' the domestic aspects of life!</li> <li>I've gotten to know my father more deeply than I ever would have otherwise.</li> <li>Our "Take your daughters to work day" is any day we want it to be!</li> <li>I've had the flexibility to attend almost ALL of my daughters' school activities.</li> <li>Teaching my girls that each of us has only so much energy and strength focus it on positive things.</li> <li>When I face challenges at work, I use them as family illustrations of using important life skills.</li> <li>I get to marvel at the brilliance of my children learning about business, politics, and life! </li> </ul> <p>And still... <a href="" target="_new">The best is yet to come!</a> Back in February of 1994, I had no idea that I needed to be open to accepting a LOT of lessons or - better yet - what lessons I would be learning as a business owner. No one could have told me how frightening running a business can be, or how many disappointments I would face, or the tears I would shed. I had to experience all of those things myself. And, now, I wish you could somehow FEEL the celebrations I've had because of this insane adventure over the last 15 years! In closing, I share the following words of former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright:</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;">"As you go along your road in life, you will, if you aim high enough, also meet resistance...but no matter how tough the opposition may seem, have courage still - and persevere."</p> <p><strong>What are some of the fears, tears, and cheers you've faced as a business owner? </strong></p> <p> <object classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" width="425" height="344" codebase=",0,40,0"> <param name="src" value=";hl=en&amp;fs=1" /> <param name="wmode" value="opaque" /> <param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="344" src=";hl=en&amp;fs=1" wmode="opaque" allowfullscreen="true"></embed> </object> </p> <p>(If you'd like to learn more about my FEARS, TEARS and CHEERS project and book, <a href="" target="_new">contact Monica</a> )</p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 06 Mar 2009 23:57:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28014 and it feels so good!<br><P>Guilty as charged. One of the cardinal rules of blogging is consistency and we broke it... but for a good reason! So what's our excuse? <A href="" target=_new mce_href="">CRM</A>.</P> <P>These past couple of weeks we've been busy getting everything ready to put into CRM and customizing it to fit our needs. That's the great thing about <A href="" target=_new mce_href="">Microsoft CRM</A>, it has great out-of-the-box capabilities but you can customize it to fit your specific needs. It's been a big process and has taken a lot of time and thought but we're thrilled that we have it installed and can start putting it to good use.</P> <P>We have a lot of great things coming down the line. We're getting ready to roll out our very own webcast series with the help of <A href="" target=_new mce_href="">Blair Inc</A>. The first webcast is a crash course in accounting basics and scheduled for release in March, we can't wait to get them launched. Stay tuned for more information about them. (We'll be releasing a lot of information about our webcasts in our e-newsletter; don't miss out- <A href="" target=_new mce_href="">sign up to get on the mailing list!</A>)</P> <P>CRM and webcasts aren't all that is new around here. At the beginning of the year John Karvelis joined the DataCraft team as our new project manager. Before John joined us he had 15 years experience with project management, team development, and IT with Newell Rubbermaid in Freeport, Illinois. We've been keeping him busy with new projects and meeting clients. He was able to take a quick break from everything to tell us this about his experience here so far:</P> <P style="PADDING-LEFT: 40px">My first few weeks have been very exciting. I have already met a number of our clients and prospects. I have enjoyed learning about their businesses and the challenges that they face. I am planning on improving our performance in the delivery of our Business Clarity solutions®. Two areas that I am initially focusing on are our project management and communication processes. By improving our performance in these two areas, I believe that DataCraft can provide a better service and at lower cost to our clients.</P> <P>We're excited to have him here and he adds a great dynamic to the DataCraft team.</P> <P>See, we haven't forgotten about our readers! We just needed to take some time off to focus on a few projects and now that we got them out of the way, we're back and ready to blog.</P><br>Kelli PoliskaWed, 18 Feb 2009 19:17:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28009 something to do while you're snowed in? Check out these books!<br><p>"Oh the weather outside is frightful" seems like a bit of an understatement these past few weeks. With what seems like the entire country being blanketed in snow and ice, what better way to spend your evening than reading a good book?<br />Aren't sure what to read? Well you're in luck because here are just a few suggestions from DataCraft President, Monica Glenny:</p> <p><a href="" target="_new">The Power of Nice</a> by Linda Kaplan Thaler &amp; Robin Koval (The Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group)<br />Authors Linda Kaplan and Robin Koval have had enough of the dog eat dog mentality that plagues businesses. They set out to prove, through their own experiences and stories from others that being nice can get you a lot farther than you expect. Hurray for the good guys!</p> <img src="" border="0" alt="Think and Grow Rich" align="left" /> <p><a href=";s=books&amp;qid=1229960250&amp;sr=1-2" target="_new">Think and Grow Rich</a> by Napoleon Hill (updated editing by Dr. Arthur R. Pell, Penguin Books Ltd)<br />Written at the end of the Great Depression, Hill's book was inspired by suggestions from Andrew Carnegie. Hill studied the most successful people in the country at the time to create 13 principles on philosophy and personal achievement. It's a classic book that is worth reading once if not a couple times over.</p> <p><a href=";s=books&amp;qid=1229960350&amp;sr=1-1" target="_new">The Art of War</a> by Sun Zu<br />Don't let the fact that it is a book about Chinese military strategy written in the 6 B.C. make you think that it isn't relevant to today. Its no-nonsense attitude has had an enormous impact on military and business planning.</p> <p><a href="" target="_new">The Book of Great American Documents</a> edited by Vincent Wilson Jr. (American Research Association)<br />Everyone should review the documents that helped shape our country. It includes The Declaration of Independence (1776), The Northwest Ordinance (1787), The Constitution of the United States of America (1787), The Emancipation Proclamation (1863), just to name a few. Each document has a well written introduction that explains the significance of each document.</p> <img src="" border="0" alt=" Five Temptations of a CEO" align="right" /> <p><a href="" target="_new">The Five Temptations of a CEO</a> by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass)<br />Follow the tale of Andrew O'Brien, a young CEO who is about to face his first annual review board and the behavioral pitfalls that many corporate leaders face. Lencioni's story telling capabilities make this easy and entertaining to read while still giving the reader a valuable message.</p> <p><a href="" target="_new">The Five Dysfunctions of a Team</a> by Patrick Lencioni(Jossey-Bass)<br />Patrick Lencioni tells the story of Decision Tech's CEO, Kathryn Petersen. Throughout the story, Lencioni discusses five hurdles that even the most successful teams can face and how they can be overcome. Again his storytelling makes it an entertaining and worthwhile read.</p> <img src="" border="0" alt="1001 Things Every Teen Should Know" align="left" /> <p><a href="" target="_new">1001 Things every Teen $hould Know Before They Leave Home (Or Else They'll Come Back)</a> by Harry H. Harrison Jr. (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Inc.)<br />This book is full of quick, witty, and funny thoughts about a broad range of topics from avoiding bad relationships to home repair to using an adult vocabulary to financial responsibility.</p> <p>Take advantage of the inclement weather and use the time to catch up on some great books!</p><br>Kelli PoliskaMon, 22 Dec 2008 18:33:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28007's Something About Margin ratios...<br><p>There's something about profitability and margins that accountants just love. What is it exactly? Well, a margin calculation&nbsp;can tell you a great deal of information about the financial stability of your business.<br />Case in point; profit margins.</p> <p>Profit margins are the easiest way to calculate your business profitablity&nbsp;by measuring the percentage of each sales dollar that results in net income.</p> <img src="" border="0" alt="profit margin" align="none" /> <p>Let's say your company sells coffee cups for $10 each and they cost $6 to make. Your company also has to pay $2 in tax, leaving $2 for the net income of each cup.</p> <img src="" border="0" alt="gross profit margin" align="none" /> <br /><br /><img src="" border="0" alt="profit margin formula" align="right" /> <p>That means that your company is making $0.20 for every $1 or 20% chart The profit margin indicates a company's ability to control costs and pricing. The higher your company's profit margin, the more profitable your business is and it gives you better control over the pricing of the product.</p> <p>Financial website <a href="" target="_new">Motley Fool</a> calls pricing a product to be profitable the "holy grail of sales and marketing groups" because pricing influences sales and creates profits that is essential to a company's success.</p> <p>If your company's costs increase and your sales rate can't keep up, you're in danger of having your profit margin dip. A low profit margin translates into a lower margin of safety, meaning your company is more likely to decline in sales that can result in net loss.</p> <p>Profit margins play a big factor in business competition. Competitive industries that are easier to get into have much lower profit margins than less competitive industries that typically have a strong brand.</p> <p>Profit margins are easy to figure out and a quick way to check your company's profitability. No wonder accountants love them so much.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="Basic Accounting" align="none" /></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaWed, 10 Dec 2008 18:56:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:28003 the connection<br><p>We all know that it is just as much <i>who</i> you know as it is <i>what</i> you know.</p> <p>One of the most common threads that the most successful business people share is their ability to network effectively. That's right, getting out there and making connections that transcend their particular industry.</p> <p>More and more people are getting away from the old thought that networking is nothing more than name dropping and sucking up. People are beginning to realize that networking is more than schmoozing, it's being genuinely interested in someone else and creating a mutually beneficial relationship.</p> <p>The success of your business depends greatly on working with the people you meet along the way. Networking is for everyone, you don't have to own a huge company or be in a big city to be able to network. Thanks to networking sites like <a href="" target="_new" mce_href="">LinkedIn</a>, <a href="" target="_new" mce_href="">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_new" mce_href="">facebook</a>, business professionals are able to make connections and build powerful relationships with people all over the world.<br> <a href="" target="_new" mce_href="">Keith Ferrazzi</a> a networking mastermind and author of the book <a href="" target="_new" mce_href="">Never Eat Alone</a>, learned from an early age that it's not only creating powerful relationships that make someone successful, but using that relationship in a way so that everybody wins. </p> <img src="" mce_src="" alt="NeverEatAlone" title="" style="" vspace="" align="right" border="0" hspace=""> <p>His book gives tips to help you make and keep your relationships including: </p> <ul> <li>Don't Keep Score- It's never simply about what you want. It's about getting what you want and making sure that the people who are important to you get what they want, too.</li> <li>"Ping" constantly: The Ins and Outs of reaching out to those in your circle of contacts all the time--not just when you need something.</li> <li>Never eat alone: The dynamics of status are the same whether you're working at a corporation or attending a society event-- "invisibility" is a fate worse than failure.</li> </ul> <p>Ferrazzi links the success of business to human connection, "Success in any field, but especially business, is about working with people, not against them. No tabulation of dollars and cents can account for one immutable fact; business is a human enterprise, driven and determined by people."</p> <p>Networking isn't just for socialites; it's an art for every business professional to master. But if you're finding it hard to strike up a conversation with a stranger, check out Meridith Levison's article <a href="" target="_new" mce_href="">How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People</a> on the <a href="" target="_new" mce_href="">CIO</a> website.</p> <p>Don't sit there and wait for someone to come to you, get out there, start taking the steps you need to get your business on the map, you might be surprised by the relationships you from on the way.</p><br>Kelli PoliskaFri, 05 Dec 2008 23:41:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:27998 yourself for the other half of the battle<br><P>After reading <A href="" target=_new mce_href="">last week's post</A>, you asked people you used your network, joined a professional organization and used new technologies to land a job interview (my, you work fast). This means that your work is done. You already did the hard part right? <IMG title="" border=0 alt="Rockford Jobs" align=right src="" mce_src=""></P> <P>Wrong. Whatever you do, please don't be one of those people who confuse a job <I>interview</I> with a job <I>offer</I>. Landing an interview is only half the battle. There is still a lot of work that needs to get done. So what can you do to better prepare yourself for the all important interview? </P> <P><B>Research</B><BR>Hopefully you did some of this before you even applied but if you're like some other job seekers who can't even remember where the sent their résumé, but either way it's important that you do some more digging. The best way to prepare for an interview is to learn more about the company</P> <P>The first place you might want to start at is the company's website. Take time to check out their mission statement and press releases in their press room. Knowing the company's most recent news and goals will help you better communicate how your skills fit in with the company.</P> <P>But the company website isn't the only place to go to get information about a company. <A href="" target=_new mce_href="">Hoover's Online</A> provides information on annual sales, number of employees and competitors for thousands of companies. You can also check out trade journals, industry directories, and of course, <A href="" target=_new mce_href="">Google</A> the company to see if there is anything you might have missed. Researching the organization will help you not only learn about the company's missions and goals, but it will also help you gauge how well you would fit in with the organization. It also comes in handy when it comes time to answering and asking interview questions.</P> <P><B>Anticipate</B><BR>A great way to prepare for your interview is to not only be able to anticipate some possible questions, but also some answers. <A href="" target=_new mce_href=""></A> has a huge bank of not only the different type of interviews there are, but also the types of questions that are typically asked during each of them. It also deciphers what the interviewer is really asking.</P> <P>It's great to have an idea of how you plan to answer a few questions, but don't regurgitate an answer like a robot. Listen to what they are asking you and be conversational. When interviewers ask questions, they're looking for more than just an answer to that particular question, your response can help them gauge a lot more about you than your biggest weakness (speaking of which, PLEASE don't answer that question with "I'm a perfectionist" unless it truly is your biggest set back. Be honest and finish up with what you're doing to fix that problem, it's much more genuine and shows that you not only know your downfalls but that you're also a problem solver.)</P> <P><B>Question</B><BR>That moment toward the end of the interview when you're asked "Do you have any questions for me?" is your time to shine. Asking questions about the company is the best way to show interest. It can also be the most difficult part of the interview. If you aren't good at coming up with well thought out questions on the fly, write some down.</P> <P>Try some of these: </P> <UL> <LI>What is the first task the person hired must attend to?</LI> <LI>Are there any opportunities for professional growth? (Classes, additional training, promotions, etc)</LI> <LI>What happened to the person who previously held this position? (Tells you more about job expectations)</LI> <LI>What are the some of the day-to-day tasks involved?</LI> <LI>What are the company's 5-year sales and profit projections?</LI></UL> <P>These are just a few of the many questions you can ask the interviewer and their answers my spark some more question for you to ask. Even is the interview doesn't result in a job offer, you can use it as on opportunity to hone your skills. After all, every experience is a learning experience.</P> <P>Before we part ways for the holiday, we have one last bit of interview advice for you...</P> <P>DON'T BE LIKE THESE GUYS! (length 3:49)</P> <P><EMBED height=344 type=application/x-shockwave-flash width=425 src=;hl=en&amp;fs=1 wmode="opaque" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" mce_src=";hl=en&amp;fs=1"> </P> <P><B><I>Happy Thanksgiving from DataCraft!</I></B></P><br>Kelli PoliskaSat, 29 Nov 2008 19:59:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:27995 the job hunt? Try mixing old with new<br><p>305,701,541<br> 6.5<br> 1,987,060</p> <p>Do those numbers mean anything to you? Probably not when you see them standing alone, but put them into context and meaning starts to take shape. <a href="" target="_new" mce_href="">305,701,541</a> is the United States population. <a href="" target="_new" mce_href="">6.5</a> is the percentage of Americans who are unemployed. 1,987,060 is the actual number of people who are without jobs. With those staggering numbers, it's easy to see why finding a job is harder than ever before. Sometimes finding a job can become a full time job itself. But don't let the numbers get you down. It doesn't mean that you won't be able to find a job; it just means that you'll have to become more aggressive in your search.</p> <img src="" mce_src="" alt="JobsearchbyJerryKing//" title="" style="" vspace="" align="right" border="0" hspace=""> <p>Here are just a few tips on how you can modify your job search to help you stay above the competition:</p> <p><b>Use your network</b>. Expand your job search past the newspaper. Don't be afraid to let people know that you are look for a job. According to the <a href="" target="_new" mce_href="">Bureau of Labor Statistics</a>, most job opening go unadvertised and are filled up through a series of professional or personal connections. Don't be afraid to let people know that you are looking for a job. It's important that you stay connected with the people you meet along the way. It might be time consuming but you never know when it could really pay off. (Please recognize that networking is much more than staying connected with other for your own personal or professional gain, it's about creating and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships, but will discuss that more in a later post.) </p> <p><b>Join a professional organization</b>. Joining a professional organization in an industry you're interested in can really help improve your job search. Not only is it a way to get to your name out there and get to know people, but most professional organizations have listings of the latest job openings and information to keep you up to date about what's happening within the industry. Keep in contact with people in the industry even</p> <p><b>Last but DEFINITELY not least: Don't be afraid of technology</b>. There are a lot of great places on the web to go when you're looking for a job. Job search engines like Monster and Career Builder are good places to start, but they're just the tip of the iceberg. Go directly to company websites. Even if they don't have any job openings posted, there is usually a wealth of information about the company and contact information. Don't be afraid to join social networks like <a href="" target="_new" mce_href="">LinkedIn</a>, <a href="" target="_new" mce_href="">Twitter</a>, <a href="" target="_new" mce_href="">Facebook</a> or event creating or posting on blogs. Marketing Strategist <a href="" target="_new" mce_href="">David Meerman Scott</a> of <a href="" target="_new" mce_href="">Web Ink Now</a> makes a good point: "When looking at candidates for a job, which do you think gets more attention from board members: A resume? Or a well-written blog, or ebook?" Publishing posts or commenting on other blogs will give employers more insight into not only your job skills, but who you are as a person. Just remember that what you post on the web is out there for everyone including potential employers- to see.</p> <p>The job market is changing and your job search should follow suit.</p><br>Kelli PoliskaThu, 20 Nov 2008 22:13:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:27994 Basic Accounting Equation kicks assets<br><p>In our quest to help you perform your business evaluation better, Datacraft has another installment of our accounting basics. <img src="" border="0" alt="Accounting For NonAccountants//byhappyelcair" width="128" height="96" align="right" /></p> <p>This time around we're going to focus on the "Basic Accounting Equation". It's a simple equation that is easy to use and important to understand</p> <p>Basic Accounting Equation</p> <p>Here's what it looks like:<br /><span style="font-size: 1.3em;">Assets = Liabilities + Equity<br />(Owned) = (Owed) + (Net worth)</span></p> <p>The accounting equation helps you to better understand how your assets were financed. It shows whether the assets were financed by borrowing money (liabilities) or contributed by the company (equity).</p> <p>Here's a quick and easy example:</p> <p>Daisy May decides that she wants to start up her own company called May, Inc.</p> <p><strong>Transaction 1</strong>: Daisy May invests $10,000 into Daisy May Inc. :</p> <table border="1" cellspacing="2" cellpadding="2" width="60%"> <tbody> <tr> <td>Transaction</td> <td>Assets<br />(owned)</td> <td>=</td> <td>Liabilities<br />(owed)</td> <td>+</td> <td>Owner's Equity<br />(net worth)</td> </tr> <tr> <td>1</td> <td>$10,000</td> <td>=</td> <td>$0</td> <td>+</td> <td>$10,000</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Total</td> <td>$10,000</td> <td>=</td> <td>$0</td> <td>+</td> <td>$10,000</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>Daisy invested $10,000 of her own money into May, Inc., this transaction only effects the assets and equity because Daisy invested her own money to start the company. Since she didn't rely on a lender, May, Inc.'s liability remains at "0"</p> <p><strong>Transaction 2</strong>: Daisy withdrawals $150 from business accounts to pay for supplies:</p> <table border="1" cellspacing="2" cellpadding="2" width="60%"> <tbody> <tr> <td>Transaction</td> <td>Assets<br />(owned)</td> <td>=</td> <td>Liabilities<br />(owed)</td> <td>+</td> <td>Owner's Equity<br />(net worth)</td> </tr> <tr> <td>1</td> <td>$10,000</td> <td>=</td> <td>$0</td> <td>+</td> <td>$10,000</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2</td> <td>-$150</td> <td>=</td> <td>$0</td> <td>+</td> <td>-$150</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Total</td> <td>$9,850</td> <td>=</td> <td>$0</td> <td>+</td> <td>$9,850</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>Daisy used May Inc.'s money to order business supplies. Again, because she did not borrow from a lender the liability remains at "0" while both the equity and assets are affected.</p> <p><strong>Transaction 3</strong>: May Inc. borrows $3,000 from the bank to help pay for new computers:</p> <table border="1" cellspacing="2" cellpadding="2" width="60%"> <tbody> <tr> <td>Transaction</td> <td>Assets<br />(owned)</td> <td>=</td> <td>Liabilities<br />(owed)</td> <td>+</td> <td>Owner's Equity<br />(net worth)</td> </tr> <tr> <td>1</td> <td>$10,000</td> <td>=</td> <td>$0</td> <td>+</td> <td>$10,000</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2</td> <td>-$150</td> <td>=</td> <td>$0</td> <td>+</td> <td>-$150</td> </tr> <tr> <td>3</td> <td>$3,000</td> <td>=</td> <td>$3,000</td> <td>+</td> <td>$0</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Total</td> <td>$12,850</td> <td>=</td> <td>$3,000</td> <td>+</td> <td>$9,850</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>This time, liabilities were affected because she is borrowing from a lender. The $3,000 given to May, Inc. is liability because the company doesn't own that money and has to pay it back to its lenders.</p> <p><strong>Transaction 4</strong>: May, Inc. sells $545 worth of goods to a customer:</p> <table border="1" cellspacing="2" cellpadding="2" width="60%"> <tbody> <tr> <td>Transaction</td> <td>Assets<br />(owned)</td> <td>=</td> <td>Liabilities<br />(owed)</td> <td>+</td> <td>Owner's Equity<br />(net worth)</td> </tr> <tr> <td>1</td> <td>$10,000</td> <td>=</td> <td>$0</td> <td>+</td> <td>$10,000</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2</td> <td>-$150</td> <td>=</td> <td>$0</td> <td>+</td> <td>-$150</td> </tr> <tr> <td>3</td> <td>$3,000</td> <td>=</td> <td>$3,000</td> <td>+</td> <td>$0</td> </tr> <tr> <td>4</td> <td>$545</td> <td>=</td> <td>$0</td> <td>+</td> <td>$545</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Total</td> <td>$13,395</td> <td>=</td> <td>$3,000</td> <td>+</td> <td>$10,395</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>Assets and equity were effected this time because May, Inc. sold goods to a customer. Once again, liabilities were not affected because the money coming in was not from a lender.</p> <p>We could go on all day but we're pretty sure that you have the hang of it</p> <p>May, Inc.'s assets equal $13,395 and there are two places where that money came from; liabilities and equity. May, Inc. has $3,000 in liabilities, which is the money borrowed from the bank (also considered the lenders money), and $10,395 that the company contributed through either investments made by Daisy or by selling goods.</p> <p>Even though this is a fairly simple example, it can be put to practice for any business no matter how large or small.</p> <p>We promised it would be easy didn't we? That's why they named it the Basic Accounting Equation.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="Accounting basics" align="none" /></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaThu, 13 Nov 2008 21:42:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:27990 to Make it up on Volume? Remember Gross Profit Margin Analysis<br><p><a href="" target="_new">Bob Dylan</a> was right, <a href="" target="_new">the times they are a-changin</a>. With the economy in trouble, it may be tempting to take drastic measures to keep your business investment&nbsp;afloat but you might want to stop and think before making any big decisions...</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><img src="" border="0" alt="profit margin" width="280" height="186" align="right" /> -- Glen Fergusson - Sales and Marketing manager for a brand new Californian Porsche dealer has lost his job and faces possible legal proceedings as the company strives to reclaim the costs of the 18 Porches given away free under Glen's Opening day "buy one get one free promotion" "I admit I didn't really do the numbers properly on this one" said Glen who told reporters that he had "seen the concept work really well for coffee stores" and in terms of numbers you could argue that Glen's campaign worked. As the new Porsche dealer sold 19 Porches [sic] in the first hour of the store opening" [<a href=";task=view&amp;id=265&amp;Itemid=29" target="_blank">Read the full article</a>]</p> <p>Ok, so <a href="" target="_new"></a> declared the story false, it was written by New Zealand's humor site <a href="" target="_new"></a> , but either way it's entertaining and there is a lessoned to be learned:</p> <p><strong>Don't fall for the old "making it up on volume" scheme. </strong></p> <p>Slashing prices may seem like a good way to move your inventory out the door, but before you get the "Super Sale" signs out take a step back.</p> <img src="" border="0" alt="gross profit margin analysis" width="234" height="241" align="none" /> <p>Reducing your prices means reducing your gross profit margin. Even though products might be flying off the shelves without much effort in the short-term; it might actually take your company longer to make up what was lost in the markdowns, making you work even harder to break even.</p> <p>Paul Williams of <a href="" target="_new">Idea SandBox</a> advises in his blog on <a href="" target="_new">MarketingProfs Daily Fix</a> that marking down prices can make your customers think that your products aren't worth their original price, which means that unless your customers "just gotta have it," they'll more than likely wait until you slap a sale sticker on it before they buy.</p> <p>Williams advises that instead of offering everything at a discounted price, try offering additional products or services to your customers, this makes them feel like they're getting one heck of a deal and are getting the most for their money. If your company does it right, you'll create a win-win situation; your customers are happy and you retain their business and make money.</p> <p>Times they are a-changin', but there is one thing that remains the same in these tough economic times: higher quality deserves higher prices, and you deserve to charge what your product is worth. If your company is in the business of quality, then your customers will remember you even as your competitor is cutting prices.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="" target="_new"><img src="" border="0" alt="Tip'd" align="none" /> Add to Tip'd</a></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="Basic accounting structure" align="none" /></a><a href="" target="_new"></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaWed, 29 Oct 2008 19:31:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:27989 is your company's Current Ratio?<br><br /><img src="" border="0" alt="Photo by :::Billie/PartsnPieces:::" align="none" /> <p>Remember the idiom, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket"? That classic saying applies to all areas of business, including accounting. Knowing the latest technology is beneficial to running your business, but don't forget that having a firm grasp on accounting basics is essential.</p> <p>To better understand your company's financial stability, you need to understand your company's current ratio. Simply put, your current ratio (also commonly referred to as liquidity ratio, cash asset ratio, and cash ratio) tells you whether or not you have enough resources to pay your bills over the next 12 months.</p> <p>Calculating your current ratio is easier than it may seem, you simply take your company's total current assets (cash, short term investments, accounts receivable and inventory) and divide it by the total current liabilities (accounts payable, wages and salaries payable and accrued taxes, along with other liabilities).</p> <img src="" border="0" alt="current ratio" align="none" /> <p>Let's say your company has $75,000 in assets and $60,000 in liabilities. That means that for every $1 your company owes, you have $1.25 in assets.</p> <p>Ideally, your company should have $2 in current assets for every $1 in current liabilities, or a current ratio of 2:1. The higher your ratio, that more liquid your company is; meaning that your assets are easily converted into cash.</p> <p>The key to running a great business is to be proactive, knowing your current ratio can help detect problems. A ratio that is less than 1 can be dangerous. It could mean that your company may not be able to pay off all of its debts.</p> <p>It may seem like having a ratio greater than 2:1 would be great for your company but it could mean that your business may have some underlying problems. Having a ratio that is too high can mean that your company might have an excessive amount of inventory or that you have customers who have balances in accounts receivable when they still have yet to pay their bill. Checking your current ratio is simple and taking the time to do it on a regular basis can help you foresee problems your company might face. Don't put all your eggs in one basket; new technology is great, but so is good old-fashioned know-how.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="Accounting Basics" align="none" /></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaThu, 23 Oct 2008 23:14:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:27988 Action Day 2008: Poverty<br><BR><A href="" target=_new mce_href=""><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Blog Action Day" align=none src="" mce_src=""></A> <P>At DataCraft, we're excited to be participating in <A href="" target=_blank mce_href="">Blog Action Day</A>. We're also really excited to have Kim Adams-Bakke from the <A href="" target=_blank mce_href="">Rock River Valley Food Pantry</A> as our guest blogger for this week. </P><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Rock River Valley Food Pantry" align=none src="" mce_src=""> <P>Staggering numbers, increasing percentages, millions affected-I'm not talking about the Wall Street bailout but about people living at the poverty level in Illinois!</P> <P>It is astounding to me that today in <A href="" target=_blank mce_href="">Winnebago County</A>, where the majority of the Rock River Valley Pantry clients live, 41,900 people live below the poverty line (annual income of $20,650 for a family of four) and another 21,200 individuals live in extreme poverty ($10,325 annual income for a family of four). These individuals are children, the elderly, employed men and women, the disabled, and the homeless, going hungry. Hunger is a hidden symptom of poverty.</P> <P>Hunger effects the preschooler that is developing both cognitively and physically, the first grader sitting in the classroom that can't concentrate because his belly is growling, the single mom at the end of the month scraping together change from the bottom of her purse to buy milk, and the grandmother wearing her coat and sitting under a blanket in her home in order to keep the heat turned as low as possible in order to have money for food.</P> <P>For the majority of our clients the hardest thing they have ever done was to cross our threshold and ask for food for themselves and their families. We have lost count of the number of times we have heard, "If it wasn't for my children needing to eat I wouldn't be here asking for help." A person's life can change overnight, with one phone call, with one layoff notice. As a matter of fact some of today's Pantry clients were yesterday's donors!</P> <P>At the Rock River Valley Pantry our clients are eligible for two days worth of food each month. We would love to be able to provide more but right now we are trying to ride out the "perfect storm." A storm that finds us with donors that have less discretionary income to help support the Pantry and yet a client base that grew by 35% over the last six months, a storm that finds funding agencies, corporations, and foundations with fewer funds available to help those that may be giving up a meal so that a child can eat. </P><IMG title="" border=0 alt="totes in a row" align=left src="" width=448 height=336 mce_src=" in a row.JPG"> <DIV style="CLEAR: both"></DIV> <P>If you would like to be part of the fight against hunger we can use your help as warehouse volunteers, food drive coordinators at your place of work, with food recovery from local retailers, program sponsors, individual donations, and advocates for those that need help. <IMG title="" border=0 alt="Harley and Julia" align=right src="" width=314 height=234 mce_src=" and Julia1.JPG"></P> <P>Hunger exists-you may not see it but it is happening all around you. Ask the more than 63,000 individuals here in Winnebago County what they had to eat today. </P> <DIV style="CLEAR: both"></DIV> <P>The Rock River Valley Pantry is located at: 1080 Short Elm Street Rockford, IL 61102 (815) 965-2466</P> <DIV style="BORDER-BOTTOM: rgb(71,71,71) 1px solid"></DIV><BR><br>Kelli PoliskaWed, 15 Oct 2008 16:12:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:27987 Together to Make a Difference<br><BR><A href="" target=_new mce_href=""><IMG title="" border=0 alt="Blog Action Day DataCraft in Rockford" align=none src="" mce_src=""></A> <P>For one day, approximately 4,800 bloggers from around the world will take a break from their usual topics to join together to discuss an issue that affects billions of people world-wide: poverty. Please join us on Wednesday, October 15 for Blog Action Day, as guest blogger Kim Adams-Bakke of the <A href="" target=_blank mce_href="">Rock River Valley Food Pantry</A> discusses how poverty affects us and what we can do to help out on the DataCraft, Inc. blog. Join us and the millions of others who will be working together to change the conversation about poverty. For more information check out the <A href="" target=_blank mce_href="">Blog Action Day</A> Website or watch the video below. Please check out the <A href="" target=_blank mce_href="">Rock River Valley Food Pantry</A> to see how one small action can make a big difference. See you on October 15th!</P><BR> <P><EMBED height=344 type=application/x-shockwave-flash width=425 src=;hl=en&amp;fs=1 wmode="opaque" allowfullscreen="true" mce_src=";hl=en&amp;fs=1"></P><br>Kelli PoliskaTue, 30 Sep 2008 21:51:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:27986 Cost of Running for President<br>It's no secret that it's not cheap to run a business and the cost of running one continues to rise, but what if you're in the business of running for president?&nbsp; <P><IMG title="" border=0 alt="project costing" align=right src="" width=228 height=165 mce_src=" Presidents Day by Cayusa.jpg"><A href="" target=_blank mce_href="">The Center for Responsive Politics</A>, a nonpartisan group that tracks how money is being spent by politicians and political parties, estimated that running a presidential campaign can cost as much as running a medium sized business for two years.</P> <P>In the past eight years, the cost of running for president has skyrocketed. In the 1996 election, presidential candidates spent $239.9 million on their campaigns; so far the candidates have spent $833.8 million in the 2008 election and there is still a few months left. Michael Toner, Federal Elections Commission Chairman, estimates the cost to reach the $1 billion mark. A far cry from the supposed $100,000 Abraham Lincoln spent in the 1860 election (combined $150,000 with Douglas) and $9.7 million (out of $19.8) Kennedy spent in 1960.</P> <P>The candidates have also received more contributions than ever before. For the 2008 election, candidates have raised a total $942.1 million compared to a total $880.5 million in 2004 and $528.9 million in 2000.</P> <P>Where exactly does all this money go? Just like the business world, how the candidates spend their money tells the public a great deal about them.</P> <P>The Center for Responsive politics calculated how the money is spent: </P> <TABLE border=1 cellSpacing=2 cellPadding=2 width="100%"> <TBODY> <TR> <TD>Description</TD> <TD>Total</TD></TR> <TR> <TD>Administrative (salaries, benefits, utilities, taxes, etc) </TD> <TD>$434.47M</TD></TR> <TR> <TD>Media (cost of advertising and media production including tv, print, radio, and internet ads) </TD> <TD>$359.24 M </TD></TR> <TR> <TD>Campaign expenses (consultation, polling, promotional material, etc)</TD> <TD>$154.35 M</TD></TR> <TR> <TD>Fundraising (events, telemarketing, mailings, etc.)</TD> <TD>$92.84 M</TD></TR> <TR> <TD>Contributions (Contributions from the committee to federal and non-federal parties)</TD> <TD>$34.74 M</TD></TR> <TR> <TD>Other (Miscellaneous including donations and loan payments.</TD> <TD>$25.69 M</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE> <P><A href="" target=_blank mce_href="">Teachable Moment</A> estimated that it cost presidential candidates $100,000 a day to campaign during the 2004 general election (The amount Lincoln spent on his entire campaign) and includes research, travel and hotel, preparing stages, renting halls, and all the costs that come with.</P> <P>According to the <A href="" target=_blank mce_href="">Federal Elections Commissions</A> , Senator John McCain's beginning cash (the balance at the start of the campaign in the cash accounts) equaled $472,454 and as of the end of August had $36,579,532 on hand and owes a little over $76,667 in debts. Senator Barack Obama started out with $0 beginning cash and had $77,404,118 on hand as of the end of August. FEC also reported that his debts equal $469,025.</P> <P>The entry fee for the election was estimated around $100 million and will only continue to rise over the years, proving that running for any elected office, especially for president, isn't for the penny-pinchers. </P><IMG title="" border=0 alt="photo by nshepard" align=none src="" mce_src=" by nshepard.jpg"><br>Kelli PoliskaWed, 24 Sep 2008 20:45:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:27985 Ratios 101<br><p>In the world of accounting, ratios give and invaluable amount of information about your company and it's fiscal well being. Accountants use financial ratio analysis on a regular basis. These analyses help to evaluate the financial performance by comparing financial ratios of a business over various periods of time to other businesses in the same industry.</p> <p><img src="" border="0" alt="accounting ratio formula " width="146" height="207" align="left" />In his book <a href="" target="_blank">Financial Analysis Tools and Techniques</a> , financial expert <a href="" target="_new">Erich A. Helfert</a> defines ratios analysis as <br /><em>"the use of a variety of ratios in analyzing the financial performance and condition of a business from various viewpoints such as managers, owners, and creditors.</em></p> <div style="clear: both;"></div> <p><strong><span style="color: #900028;">Get out your financial calculator. <br /></span></strong><strong><span style="color: #900028;">There are three different types of ratios:</span><br />Liquidity<br />Profitability<br />Solvency</strong></p> <p><strong><span style="color: #900028;">Liquidity</span></strong><br />Liquidity ratios measure your business short-term ability to pay bills as they are due and let you know if you have the cash to cover and unexpected expenses. Liquidity ratios compare your most liquid assets (assets that are easily turned into cash) with your short-term liabilities. In general, the greater the ratio of liquid assets to short-term liabilities, the better off your company is. These ratios let you know that your company can pay debts that are owed and still continue to operate normally.</p> <p>Current Ratios<br />Acid Test Ratios<br />Current Cash Debt Coverage<br />Receivables Turnover<br />Inventory Turnover</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #900028;">Profitability</span></strong><br />Profitability ratios measure the operating success of your company for a specific period of time. They give you a better understanding of how well your company made use of its resources to generate profit.</p> <p>Profitability Ratios<br />Profit Margin<br />Cash Return on sales<br />Asset Turnover<br />Return on Assets<br />Return of Equity</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #900028;">Solvency </span></strong><br />Solvency ratios measure how well your business can survive over a long period of time by measuring your income after taxes. Solvency ratios take a look at your past financial statement analysis&nbsp;and let you know if your company can continue to pay its debts now and in the future by looking at your income after taxes. A ratio that is higher that 20% means that your business is financially healthy. The lower your ratio, the greater chance your company will default on its debt obligations.</p> <p>Solvency Ratios<br />Debt to Asset<br />Times Interest Earned<br />Cash Debt Coverage</p> <p>All of these ratios, liquidity, profitability, and solvency alike can provide you with useful financial information about your company. If you can get so much information from just looking at one type of ratio, imagine the invaluable knowledge you can gain to keep everything on track and guide your company to success.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="Basic Accounting Structure" align="left" /></a><a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="cash ratio formula" align="none" /></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaWed, 17 Sep 2008 00:12:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:27984 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Care About Accounting Basics<br><p>Business owners really know how to provide quality products and services. But when it comes to simple accounting basics that can make an impact on the success of their business, some business owners are left in the dust.</p> <p>Being a business owner isn't for everyone, in fact, most businesses don't make it through their first year. People who don't care to learn all aspects of owning a business especially accounting- probably didn't care about running a successful company in the first place. If you agree with any of the following, you'll probably find yourself in the same category as them.</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #900028;">1. You don't care if your business is profitable.</span></strong><br />You should only bother knowing the simple accounting if you care about the health of your company. Accounting provides structure to help business owners keep track of whether or not their business has made any money over time and where that money is coming from. Knowing the nuts and bolts will tell you how profitable your business is by keeping track of how much money is going out and coming in.<img src="" border="0" alt="Accounting Basics" width="152" height="200" align="right" /></p> <p><strong><span style="color: #900028;">2. You don't care about what others think.</span></strong><br />As the business owner, you're not the only one who cares if your company is making any money. Banks and investors are very interested in knowing how well your business is doing financially. Banks will look at your business from a fiscal standpoint to determine whether or not they should loan your company money. More importantly, they want to be sure that if they give you a loan, you will be able to pay it back. Investors will also want to know if your company is a solid investment and a financial statement will tell them not only if, but how much they should invest into your company. The better you understand the ins and outs of your company's financial state, the more likely the bankers and investors will give your business the money that it needs.</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #900028;">3. You aren't concerned about employee theft; "they're like family."</span></strong><br />This isn't to say that you can never trust your employees - there is no doubt that many employees are hard working and honest - but keeping tabs on your financial accounts can help you keep track of where your money is going. According to <a href="" target="_new"></a> expense reports, payroll, purchasing, and suspense accounts are just a few of the places that disloyal employees are most likely to skim a little off the top. For a complete list of areas where employee fraud is most prevalent and what you can do as an employer to prevent employee theft, read the rest of the <a href="">article</a>.</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #900028;">4. You like selling products that lose money - you'll "make it up on volume"</span></strong><br />Thinking about reducing prices to sell more products? Think again. While it may seem like it might make sense to slash prices to move more product, you are more than likely loosing out. Reducing prices reduces your gross profit margin and create more effort for your company to break even. Then again, if you knew accounting 101, you probably already knew that.</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #900028;">5. Cash flow isn't important to you</span></strong><br />Your&nbsp;Cash Flow Statement&nbsp;gives you a snapshot of your company's short-term financial health. Knowing your company's cashflow is crucial, it will help you to determine if you have enough money on hand to pay employees and creditors on time. Companies who pay attention to their cashflow analysis know that if they have abundant cash on hand are able to invest the cash back into the business in order to produce more profit.</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #900028;">6. You don't really need to know if your customers have paid you yet</span></strong><br />You don't care your customers don't pay their bills right? Of course you do! If you don't keep track of who has and hasn't paid you, how are you supposed to collect?</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #900028;">7. The IRS doesn't care if you've made your payroll tax deposits</span></strong><br />Payroll taxes are the responsibility of every employer. Business' payroll tax responsibility consists of not only the taxes required to be withheld from employees' wages -Social Security tax, Medicare tax and federal income tax- but also that the employer's match their share of Social Security and Medicare taxes. Businesses that don't make payroll deposits can face some major penalties, including jail time.</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #900028;">8. Your suppliers never call you to collect their money</span></strong><br />Just like you want to make sure that your customers pay you, the same holds true for your vendors. Keeping track of your invoices will help you stay up-to-date with liabilities and due dates for bills.</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #900028;">9. Your employees donate their time and don't expect to get paid </span></strong><br />While satisfaction of a job well done is crucial for your employees to be happy and remain with your company, so is a paycheck. Not very many people can afford to volunteer 40 hours of their week. Knowing the basics, like cash flow, lets you make sure that you have enough money to pay your employees for all of their work.</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #900028;">10. Accounting is too difficult to learn anyway. </span></strong><br />You don't need to be a mathlete to have a working knowledge of accounting. Chances are that if you're smart enough to learn how to run a company, you're smart enough to learn the fundamentals of accounting. <a href="" target="_blank">Monica</a> has put together an easy to understand course, Basic Accounting Structure that helps to explain the makeup of accounting, including the different kinds of accounts and basic financial statements that your business uses everyday.</p> <p>Hopefully you don't find yourself agreeing with any of the reasons above, but if for some strange reason you might, then don't bother to learn anything about accounting; hire a mathlete to take care of all of your finances. But then again if you don't care about your money, you probably don't have enough to hire someone who does.</p> <p><em>Photo credit: Carol Ester</em></p> <p><em><a href=""></a><a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="Cash turnover ratio formula" align="none" /></a><a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="Accounting basics" align="none" /></a><a href=";utm_source=blogs"></a></em></p><br>Kelli PoliskaMon, 08 Sep 2008 22:12:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:27983 offers a clear vision with Business Clarity<br><p><img src="" border="0" alt="Business Clarity" align="right" />Let's be honest; many of us have tendencies to stockpile items that we do not always need. Having a bulk of some items can be beneficial, but when it comes to accounting software, having too much can be bad for your business.</p> <p>Scattered information caused by too much software can create a whirlwind of problems for businesses. Lost or inaccurate data and the expenses that pile up with constant software updates are just a few of the problems businesses can face. These problems can lead to businesses being at risk of becoming less efficient.</p> <p>A possible solution to the problems created by too many databases is streamlining software. Streamlining software can condense valuable information, making it easier to access. Perhaps the most important part of streamlining is knowing which products work best for your company.</p> <p>At Datacraft, we offer Business Clarity, a service that helps companies utilize accounting technology the way it is supposed to be. Business Clarity offers a free software selection guide and software analysis to help you choose the right software for your company. Using Business Clarity can get rid of outdated and unnecessary software that is doing your company more harm than good. <a href="">Check out what Business Clarity can do for your company</a>.</p> <p>While stocking up on some items is a good idea, hoarding software does more harm than good. Take time to find the software that is the right fit for your company, it can make a world of difference.</p> <p><a href=""><strong>Schedule a Business Clarity session.</strong></a></p><br>Kelli PoliskaMon, 14 Jul 2008 18:24:00 GMTf1397696-738c-4295-afcd-943feb885714:27982