Meet the Team: Stephanie Berggren

StephWhat is my role? My role is to help business owners by sharing and teaching what I love – accounting. Owners can focus on the fun stuff, like making their business grow, while my team and I can provide the accounting skills and knowledge to help them make smart growth decisions. My team and I can help them interpret the story the numbers are telling so they can have a better understanding of where their business is and where it’s going.

Why are numbers important for business?  Numbers are the story of your business. They tell the owner important statistics that, when understood and applied correctly, can help the business owner make informed decisions. Numbers tell the business owner what works and what doesn’t.

Why do I want you to succeed? When you succeed, we all succeed. I love the feeling of seeing businesses I worked with become successful. It develops a sense of pride in what I’ve accomplished, but also makes me excited to see where your business will go next!

#ILoveSmallBiz – Small businesses truly make the world go round. From job opportunities to innovative ideas, small businesses provide success and growth opportunities for our communities, which is a win-win for everyone.

Meet the Team: Chad Flanagan (@chadflan)

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What is my role?

Clients can expect an advisor that will help them in any stage of their business. I help clients in early stages of their business by understanding value and proper capitalization. I help mature businesses to increase value and plan for growth and manage risk. Finally, I help businesses understand exit opportunities and challenges with business succession.

I also specialize in valuing intangible assets including technology, patents and contracts. I also offer my business valuation services for estate and gift tax purposes, litigation and even the buying and selling of businesses. Basically, if it involves valuation, I’m your guy.

I enjoy sharing what I know and because of this, I have had the opportunity to present for the Business Law Institute in Minnesota, the Red River Estate Planning Council, Prairie Family Business Association and various other organizations.

Why are numbers important for business?

Numbers and financial metrics tell the story of where your business has been and where it is going. What you can measure you can improve. I work with a cool tool that allows me to look at real time numbers to benchmark clients against their industry and identify how they can improve cash flow, reduce risk and increase the value of their business.

Why do I want you to succeed?

I find it very rewarding to work with clients and help them grow their most important asset – their business. Watching businesses grow to reach their full potential means I have helped my clients reach their goals through all the necessary business steps. I take pride in knowing the advice and work I provided led to success for the client.

#iLoveFargo

I come from a small town in North Dakota, so being in Fargo always feels like home to me. Fargo offers great opportunities in business, a great entertainment scene and a ton of dining choices. There is enough going on here to give it that big city feel, while still having the small town vibe I enjoy. The people here are friendly, and it’s always nice to walk down the street and run into someone you know.

Important Items When Hiring

Have you ever thought about hiring staff? You know, bringing in employees to work beside you in your business to keep it awesome and running smoothly? As a business owner, it’s likely the thought has at least crossed your mind. What you might not have thought about is the legalities that come along with hiring staff.

Before you hire staff, the Small Business Administration says you need to take care of some very important to-do items.

  1. Employer Identification Number (EIN) — To hire employees, you will need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS by filing an application. This can be done on the IRS website. An EIN is the unique code the IRS uses to identify your company – similar to how your social security number identifies you.
  2. Forms W-2 and W-4 — Having employees means you will have to file taxes on their wages. You will need your employees to fill out W-4 forms when they are hired. You will also need to submit W-2 forms for employees to Social Security. Getting these records set up right away will make for smooth(er) sailing during tax season.
  3. Form I-9 — You also need to make sure the employees you’re hiring are legal to work in the United States. To do this, you as the employer will need to complete Form I-9 within three days of hiring someone. You may need to do an online verification during this step as well. This will depend on what state you are in and whether you are a Federal contractor or sub-contractor.
  4. Two Words: Worker’s Compensation — In the somewhat unlikely – but still very serious – event someone gets injured on the job, you typically need to pay worker’s compensation. Your business will need to have specific insurance to cover this, and this insurance needs to be in place as soon as you have employees. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  5. Form 941 — More on taxes. Employers who pay wages are usually subject to other taxes, such as social security. Because of this, employers have to file Form 941, or the Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return.
  6. New Hire Reporting — You will need to register with your state’s New Hire Reporting Program, which is essentially just a large directory of all employees. Employers must report newly hired or rehired workers within 20 days. What must be reported? Federal and state laws in North Dakota, for example, require you report the employee’s name, address, social security number, date of hire and whether or not health insurance is offered. These criteria can vary from state to state.
  7. Workplace Posters — Employers are required by law to display certain posters in the workplace. Such posters usually inform employees of their rights under labor laws. Some examples include the Equal Employment Opportunity poster, the Fair Labor Standards Act poster and the Family and Medical Leave Act poster. Most of these posters can be found online through the US Department of Labor’s website.

Hiring employees can be an exciting step for your business. Not only can they help your business succeed, but they may be a sign that business is good and you need more help to serve your customers.

If you have any questions about the hiring process, our HR consultants are here to help you take this step!

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Reasons to Love Outsourcing

With Valentine’s Day being tomorrow, we hope you have all your flowers and chocolates ready to go. While we don’t have any candy hearts to hand out, cupid dropped by and gave us three reasons to love outsourcing. Because we’re so sweet (see what we did there?), we thought we would share them with you.

More time where it matters

 Let’s face it: accounting and bookkeeping can be time consuming. If you’re doing this in-house, rather than outsourcing it, you’re likely not spending much time in other parts of your business. You might also be spending precious time and resources on finding, recruiting and hiring in-house workers. The time it takes to train these people – or yourself – can take up a good chunk of your day, leaving little time to work on other important facets of your business.

When you leave accounting and bookkeeping to someone else (outsourcing), you free up more time to focus on why you got into business in the first place.

Save some money

Believe it or not, outsourcing your accounting functions can actually save your business some money. You might be wondering how this is possible, since you still have to pay for these services. However, the savings come in the form of benefits, or the lack thereof. When you outsource accounting, you only pay for the actual accounting services, nothing else.

What do we mean? When you bring in someone else, rather than hiring a full or part-time employee, you eliminate the need to pay benefits, such as insurance, PTO, holiday pay, etc. Saving money on these benefits can save your business up to 40% in monthly costs, according to this cost benefit analysis. Some firms even estimate that it could cost anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000 a year, plus bonuses and benefits, to hire a full-time CFO. Along with the cost of benefits, you might also consider the costs of providing a computer, office spaces, supplies, etc. There could also be costs for licenses and technology that you need to do the job yourself. When being profitable is your goal, finding ways to save money in your business can help you reach your goal much quicker.

Expert knowledge

When you choose to outsource your accounting and finance functions, you get what you pay for: expertise. The people you hire to do these jobs for you live and breathe accounting and finance, and really know their stuff. And if there is stuff they don’t know, they can rely on other professionals in their firm to get you the help you need, from people who specialize in that area. Essentially, you’re getting a whole network of talent through one point of contact. Rather than hiring and training someone to do the job, you can rest assured your outsourced professionals have the knowledge and qualifications to do the job correctly. By outsourcing, you put your business in capable hands who will keep your business in good shape and give it the attention it deserves.

Sound pretty great? We think so too. Our experienced professionals are ready to help you fall in love with outsourcing and treat your business with the love it deserves.

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Warning Signs to Avoid

By: Ryan Renner, Eide Bailly LLP

As tax season grows closer and closer, it’s time to start looking at your books so you know where your business stands. Maybe you look at your books often (good for you!), or maybe they’ve gotten a little dusty since last tax season. Either way, getting a head start and looking at your books now can help make sure there are no hidden surprises ready to jump out at you. In fact, there are some warning signs that could mean something is wrong.

Bank Reconciliations

Arguably the most obvious warning sign is that cash no longer reconciles to your bank account. This mistake can usually be fixed by reviewing your account activity, starting from the last time your cash was in balance and working through your current period end. However, if you are completing a monthly or annual bank reconciliation and have significant unexplained differences, there’s a good chance something went wrong with the bookkeeping. It’s a never a good idea to let these – or any other – differences go, as they can continue to grow. Then you’ll have a real hole to dig your way out of.

Balance Sheet Blunders

Another obvious alert – but one that we see happen more often than you would think – is that the balance sheet no longer balances. When your balance sheet isn’t in balance, your business can also end up unbalanced, which can cause some serious issues for your business.

Most accounting software will usually not allow you to maintain an unbalanced balance sheet, or will provide you an alert that something you did will cause an imbalance. If you start getting these alerts or notice things aren’t balancing, it’s best to look at what could have caused the error and how to fix it before entering it into the balance sheet. Taking the time to figure out what went wrong right away will save you time and headaches in the future.

Equity Adjustments

Any time you record a manual adjustment to an equity account, besides normal equity transactions like owner contributions and distributions, something might not be quite right. Only in rare instances, such as correcting an accounting error, should you make manual adjustments to equity. In fact, you should consider if the adjustment would make more sense to be recorded within your income statement, rather than to your equity account. If you do find yourself making a lot of manual adjustments to your equity accounts, it may be time to discuss with a professional.

Account Reconciliations

Looking at your balance sheet account reconciliations can be another helpful way to see if there is anything wrong on the books. A couple items to look for in your account reconciliations include:

  • Account reconciliation detail doesn’t agree to the balance sheet amount
    • Similar to the bank reconciliation, if your account detail – such as accounts receivable and accounts payable detail – doesn’t agree with your balance sheet, it may indicate a problem with the reconciliation process. A detailed review of your account records can help you identify which difference needs to be corrected. (If you need a refresher on accounts payable and accounts receivable, look here).
  • Negative balances in your account reconciliation detail
    • While this may happen occasionally and not be an issue, there can be times when this indicates a problem. For example, if a customer has a significant negative accounts receivable balance, do you actually owe that customer a refund or was something entered incorrectly? On the other hand, if you have a negative accounts payable balance from one of your vendors, are you really expecting a refund or does that indicate an error with payment?

The Moral of the Story…

It’s safe to say you should never underestimate the power of the balance sheet when you are looking at your books. When things go wrong on the books, you can often look to the balance sheet (or these other areas) to see where those pesky problems are coming from. If you can catch these errors soon enough, you can get your business back in shape before tax season. Your business – and your CPAs – will thank you.

 

Not Just Suits with Shoulder Pads

Sometimes you may think that accountants are stuffy … and expensive. But what if you could find an accounting firm that truly understood your needs?

Ciara Stockeland, CEO and Founder of MODE found just that: “I was really excited to find out first that Eide Bailly was something I could afford and second that they had team members that could relate to me and understand who I was and who my customer was.”

Learn more about Ciara’s journey:

Dare to dream about what’s possible for your small business … we love helping you get there.

Beware the Data Breach

By: Eide Bailly Technology Consulting

It should come as no surprise that data breaches are becoming more and more popular in today’s day and age. Although many businesses believe this could never happen to them, the harsh reality is that it could happen to anyone. This leads us to our point: just how detrimental could a data breach be to your business’s bottom line?

Let’s first look at exactly what a data breach is. In its most simple sense, a data breach is when an individual’s name and other confidential, personal information is potentially put at risk. These breaches usually occur due to a criminal attack, a glitch in technology or even just a human error.

When looking at the expenses a business could incur due to a data breach, there are some scary numbers reported. The attacks themselves are unique and so are the expenses an organization may face. The Ponemon Institute 2016 Cost of Data Breach Study revealed that the average cost for each lost or stolen record containing confidential or sensitive information increased from $217 in 2015 to $221 by 2016 – per record! This was a 2% rise, showing an upward trend in the cost of stolen information. This is mainly due to the loss of more customers than was originally expected. Verizon, in their 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report, found that an organization may spend between $52,000 and $87,000 on 1,000 stolen records. Yikes!

It’s obvious a data breach is something no business wants to deal with. Not only will a breach cost your business money, but it could also cost you your reputation. That can lead to many financial problems down the road (think loss of customers, loss of revenue, etc.).

To make sure your business is taking the proper steps to reduce your risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches, consider some of these questions:

  • What data protection policies and procedures do you currently have in place?
  • Are there any industry regulations you need to follow?
  • When was the last time you tested your data security measures?
  • Do you have your data backed up, and if so, how secure is it?
  • Is your data protected from human errors or system malfunctions?
  • When did your management team last review your security measures in depth?
  • Have other businesses similar to yours experienced data breaches?

These questions, although just a starting point, can be extremely helpful in determining whether your business is at a high risk of a data breach. If you feel your answers to some of these questions aren’t as great as you were hoping, it’s time to start working on your business’s overall security plans.

Shameless Plug (because you knew that was coming): Eide Bailly’s Cyber Security Compass can help your business stay safe from cyber- attacks. By analyzing your business’s strengths and weaknesses, a report is given to help you determine what areas of your business need help. Trust us, this tool is pretty neat.

You don’t want your business to be another statistic impacted by a data breach. Protect your business’s bottom-line by making data security and protection a key goal in your business strategy.

A version of this post first appeared on Eide Bailly’s Technology Consulting blog.