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Protecting Client’s Credit Card Numbers

Protecting Client’s Credit Card Numbers

Does your business ask your customers for their credit card numbers at any time during the sales process? If so, it’s essential that you honor the privacy of your customers’ private data as well as stay in compliance with the Payment Card Industry rules.

Every business that has an account with a merchant services vendor is required to follow PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance when collecting and storing credit card data. There are many different levels of compliance depending on the technology you use to capture and store credit card data. These levels depend on whether you use a point of sale terminal, the customer hands you their card, orders are entered through an online shopping cart, or a combination.

In all cases, there are several no-no’s that you’ll want to share with your staff to make sure they are properly trained:

  1. Never ask a client to send a credit card number via unsecure email.
  2. Never take down a credit card number over the phone on paper before entering it into your system. If you do, you need to shred the paper immediately.
  3. Don’t ask clients to take a photo of their credit card to send to you.

If you need to use credit card authorization forms in your business, you’ll need to consider the proper collection of these forms as well as the proper storage. Storing a credit card outside any system requires you to follow further PCI compliance steps.

  1. After a client has signed and completed the credit card authorization form, you will need to provide a secure, encrypted email connection for them to send it back to you. Alternately, you can set up a private client portal for them using Box, DropBox, ShareFile, or another generic portal or file transfer app. Just sending a pdf via email is not a great idea unless the PDF is password-protected and the password is sent via secure, encrypted email.
  2. Once you’ve received the form on your end, you’ll need to keep it in a secure place. If you print or download it, you’ll need to follow physical building security protocols to stay in compliance with PCI as well as to protect the customer data.

It’s not a surprise that so many credit cards get hacked each year. It’s inconvenient to customers and vendors when their credit card gets compromised, and much of this can be prevented through proactive and safe measures. Respect your customers and help them keep their credit card data safe.

If we can help with any questions, please contact us at any time.

Is it Profitable to Blog?

Is it Profitable to Blog?

One of the many online marketing options available for businesses is blogging. A blog can act as a company’s daily newspaper, letting customers and followers know the latest news about what’s happening. It can also be a wonderful revenue-generator.

As long as the content of your blog is relevant to your readers, you can post on a wide variety of topics. You might want to let clients know about an upcoming event, a new employee, or a tip related to a service of yours.

Some businesses make a separate revenue stream out of blogging. The most profitable blog today is the Huffington Post. Revenue from blogging can be earned in many ways:

  • By selling ad space to people who want to get their products in front of people who read your blog
  • From sponsors
  • By holding events your readers attend
  • From commissions from the sale of products on your site
  • By creating products and services such as membership sites which allow paid access to your resources

Making money from blogging through one of these revenue streams takes work. Not only do you have to find or create content, you’ll need to attract readers too.

You can also simply use your blog to generate a following for your products and services. The right content can improve customer service, educate customers on your products which leads to better client retention, or inform them of the benefits of your products during your sales cycle.

If you’re not a writer, there are plenty of freelance writers available that you can hire to create your blog posts. You can also curate articles, meaning you can find existing articles and ask the author if you can re-publish theirs.

Creating a blog is easy with software like WordPress or apps like Blogger.com WordPress.com, and Wix.com, and all of these solutions are free.

Think about how a blog can impact your business for the better.

If we can help with any questions, please contact us at any time.

Avoiding Accounts Payable Errors: What to Watch Out for

Avoiding Accounts Payable Errors: What to Watch Out for

When you pay a bill in your business, are you 100 percent comfortable that the bill payment is correct and justified? Is there ever a chance that that bill is fake or fraudulent? What about duplicates? With so many fake bills being mailed to businesses these days, it makes sense to think about controls you can put into place to reduce the risk that you might write a check out of your hard-earned profits that should never be written.

We know most gym owners pay most bills via credit card at the time of order. However, with the amount of fraud occurring these days, it never hurts to be more informed on best practices for the few bills you may receive and pay via check, or even credit card, after ordering.

Accounts Payable Controls

In the accounting profession, the term “internal controls” refers to processes, procedures, and automations you can put into place to reduce errors. In accounts payable, there is a specific subset of rules and controls you can put into place to reduce risk in this area. Here are just a few ideas.

1.Approvals

All bills should be approved by the appropriate level of staff in your business. Sometimes a bill gets approved that is fake or shouldn’t be approved, especially in areas where the approver doesn’t have technical knowledge of what they are buying. Be sure to read the fine print on the bill and make sure you know what you are paying for.

2.Segregation of duties

The person who pays the bill should be different from the person who submitted the bill. These people should be different from the one who signs the check. This reduces employee fraud.

3.Receipt confirmation

A packing slip or other confirmation of receipt of the goods or services should be matched to the invoice, line item by line item.

4.Math check

A prudent step is to check an invoice’s math, at least for reasonableness.

5.Duplicate payments

If a vendor emails their bill as well as mails a hard copy, controls should be put in place (usually automated) to avoid duplicate payments on the same bill.

6.Reconciliation

If there are a significant number of transactions between you and a vendor, an accounts payable reconciliation should be performed each month via a statement.

7.Missing check numbers

Most systems provide a missing check numbers report that you can use to make sure all checks are accounted for.

8.Bank reconciliation

A bank reconciliation is a sure way to see exactly what checks cleared your bank account.

9.Coding

Coding each transaction to the correct expense account, inventory, asset, or cost of goods sold account is an essential part of the process.

10.Income statement review

Each month, a review of the balances in your expense accounts as well as a disbursements ledger review for reasonableness can provide added peace of mind.

11.Purchase order

Requiring purchase orders is another control you can add to your process. Purchase orders should be matched to packing slips and invoices before payment or approvals are made.

12.In-depth knowledge of your business’s numbers

The more you get to know the numbers in your business, the greater chance you’ll have of accurate accounts payable handling.

And if you’d like to discuss your accounts payable function with us and how it can be improved, we’re happy for you to reach out any time.

Comparison steals joy…it’s true with taxes too!

Comparison steals joy…it’s true with taxes too!

We’ve all heard it before, comparison steals joy! In this era where everyone is connected via social media, it’s easy to get sucked into what everyone else is doing and consciously or unconsciously compare your life to everyone else’s.

It’s also easy when we attend conferences, networking events or mastermind groups with our peers to get sucked into comparing businesses. Sometimes it’s vanity metrics such as number of members, size of staff, social media followers or revenue. Other times the conversation turns to taxes.

For so many reasons, when it comes to taxes, comparison just doesn’t work. This is one instance where you are a snowflake – every single tax story (return) is slightly different.

You may have friends in the same business as you and their life partner may have a completely different job from your life partner. This could create a massive tax difference. You may work the same job as someone else and have very different investment strategies. You may own your house and someone else rents. The list goes on and on. There are so many ways you may look the same in everyday life and yet be very different on your actual tax return.

This is one reason comparison just doesn’t work – you probably only know the parts of the story that are the same or obviously different. The seemingly small differences can produce the largest differences in paying taxes.

Another reason is people may have the exact same day-to-day characteristics but the details can still create wide gaps. In other words, people usually only tell you the good stuff so that’s what you’re comparing. Except you’re comparing your good, bad AND ugly to their good. That’s not fair to your psyche.

For example, if another gym owner tells you he’s been advised to save 10% for taxes and you’ve only been advised to save 7% that may mean he’s more profitable than you OR it may mean you have more personal deductions that him.

It’s also important to be sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Maybe he’s been told 10% of Gross Income and you’re at 7% of Real Revenue. That may mean you’re actually saving more for taxes because you calculate it on all your Revenue where he’s taking out his Cost of Goods Sold first. See, the details matter!

Now let’s reverse the above example…she’s only savings 5% and you’re still at 7%. Maybe she isn’t paying herself as much as you because her operating expenses are still too high. I’d rather have more profit and owner’s pay and have to save more for taxes than be living check to check in my owner’s compensation account. OR she could have a life partner with an extremely stressful although lucrative job with lots of withholding covering her business tax requirements.

See how you can’t know the whole story so comparing is stealing your joy. This may be good news or bad news for you. The only way to know for sure is to visit your tax preparer and find out.

This time of year, early fall, is the best time to make an appointment with your tax preparer and ensure your 2019 tax estimates are on track to cover your 2019 tax liability based on your actual 2019 financial results. If you need to make changes, you still have time and if you’re on track, you can rest in that peace the rest of the year as it winds down.

If you don’t have a tax preparer you’re happy with, email us at team@netbooksaccounting.com and we can introduce you to one.

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