It goes without saying that 2020 has been quite the year—and it’s not even over yet! Of course, any one of us could easily come up with a long list of every bad occurrence that has taken place since March due to the pandemic. Being grateful can be challenging during times of hardship, and we want to help you achieve the feat.

Below, we’ve put together different techniques to help you see that there are many things to be grateful for, both in our business and personal lives. This is a great time of year – just before Thanksgiving – to stop and practice gratitude.

What Are You Grateful For?

The act of being grateful can lead to experiencing positive emotions. As a matter of fact, if you are experiencing negative emotions and don’t want to, the fastest way to “reset” your physiology is to start thinking of things you are grateful for.

Here are some ideas to help get you started:

Your Health 

Health comes in many various forms; the idea of being healthy can mean something entirely different to two people. Consider what being healthy means to you, and then, if you do think you have your health, try and be grateful for it.

One good thing about the pandemic is that most people are eating more healthful, home-cooked meals and less fast food, and they are feeling better with more energy.  People are also watching their weight and even losing excess pounds, especially after some of the initial reports that overweight people were having a harder time fighting Covid-19 than slimmer people.

Friends and Family

Are you surrounded by loved ones? Now, more than ever before, it’s important to be grateful for people who are in your life. You may be facing hardships but think how much more difficult times would be if you were dealing with them by yourself. Be grateful for having someone in your life that you can lean on.

Work and Business

So many people have lost their jobs, their income, their sense of security. If you still have work or your business to keep you busy, focused, and earning a steady paycheck, be grateful. It’s a wonderful exercise to express your gratitude to your customers, coworkers, or employer by writing them a thank you note or leaving them a review on Google My Business, Yelp, their Facebook business page, or their LinkedIn profile as a recommendation.

Similarly, it’s the perfect time of year to ask your customers or employer to leave you a review on one of these digital assets.

Never Stop Being Grateful

Of course, there are plenty of other things to be grateful for in this world; everyone’s list will look different. Perhaps you’re grateful for a pet or something you’ve achieved. Maybe the fact that you have a special skillset or the ability to be patient and understanding during trying times gives you reason to smile.

That’s the thing about being grateful: there is nothing too big or too small to be grateful for; no right or wrong answer. And while it may feel more difficult this year compared to others, you can always find something when you look hard enough.

Many clients are asking us about whether their taxes will go up now that there will be a change in Presidents in January.  The short answer is no.

A US President does NOT have the power to raise or lower taxes. Period.  That power is reserved for the legislative branch of the government.  Only Congress can pass or change law to raise or lower your taxes.  Once a law has passed in both the Senate and the House, the President can sign the act into law.

A change in Administration does NOT repeal all prior laws.  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is still in effect, and many provisions are written to last through 2025.

What a new President can do is ask Congress to pass a law to raise revenue for the government. The President can give direction but cannot make law himself when it comes to taxes.

A new Congress often does like to pass a new tax bill so that they have made their “mark.” But the timing of it will vary due to a variety of factors, including priorities, which party controls the Senate and House, and many, many other things. We won’t know the full makeup of the Senate until January 2021 when the two runoff races in Georgia are complete.

For those of you history buffs, the very first federal tax was created during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.  It was called the Revenue Act and was a tax of three percent on everyone making over $800 per year. The immediate need was to raise money for the Civil War.

Regardless of the type of relationship—personal, professional, or even acquaintance—communication is key. Communication is particularly necessary when it comes to customers and building a successful business. It’s even more important this year since many businesses have gone through so many changes. This article will help you achieve better customer communication.

Are You Communicating Properly?

Effective communication helps to ensure your product or service meets the customer’s needs and satisfaction. By meeting these needs and satisfaction, you are potentially generating repeat business. Start by figuring out what your customers are thinking and what questions they might have about your business.

Congratulate yourself if you’ve sent emails or posted notices on your website that answer the following questions:

  1. Have your hours changed?
  2. Has your location changed?
  3. Can you handle drop-in service?
    1. If so, is there a protocol? For example, do customers call a number when they get to your locked door? Will you be taking their temperature? Is a mask required?
  4. Is your business by appointment only?
    1. Then, how do customers make an appointment?
    2. Do you require a covid-19 test before an appointment can be made?
  5. Are there special accommodations for at-risk groups?
  6. Has your contact information changed? With people working at home, phone numbers may have changed.
  7. Have your services changed?
  8. Do you deliver?
  9. Do you offer curbside pick-up?

And this is just pandemic-related. You may have launched new products or services, changed prices, added staff, and implemented many more actions that customers should know about.

Tips on Effective Communicating

Here are some foundational reminders about communicating in business.

Connection

Communication starts with a connection. To give the customer what they want, you have to connect with them. If you can connect on a personal level, even better. Regardless, you need to convey to the customers that they—as well as their wants and needs—are important.

Listen

Listen to your customer—and listen well. Depending on the customer’s communication, you may have to ask very specific questions to better understand what they want or need. However, intently listening to your customers will allow you to form a better relationship with them.

Not only that, but you can get some great ideas for how to improve or create new products and services so that you fulfill even more of your customers’ wants and needs.

Understand

Now that you’re connecting and listening to you customer, make sure you understand them. If you don’t understand what they’re saying, ask them to clarify. This isn’t a guessing game, but a two-sided relationship. To give the customer what they want or need, you must understand what it is they are asking for.

Transparency

Be completely transparent with your customer. You cannot earn a customer’s trust or loyalty—or repeat business—if you aren’t one hundred percent honest with them. Tell the customer exactly what you can do for them; don’t promise something you can’t deliver.

Deliver

Make sure you can—and do—deliver exactly what your customer is expecting from you. If you promise to deliver something, whether it’s a service, product, or result, then you need to keep your word. In doing so, you will be laying the brickwork for a successful, long-term relationship.

Communication is one of—if not—the most important skill to have when it comes to connecting with your customers. After all, happy customers will come back.

The 13-Week Cash Flow Forecast

If you’re having ups and downs in your cash balance, the 13-week cash flow forecast is the perfect tool to help gain clarity around your cash needs. It will help a business owner predict what their cash balance will be 13 weeks (one calendar quarter) in the future.

The forecast calculations start with entering cash receipts and cash disbursements into a spreadsheet. Start with actual spending and receipts for the first week, then use estimates for the remaining weeks. Include planned expenditures such as overhead, payroll, and loan payments. Add in inventory purchases. Project your receipts based on history or recent changes in your business.

Once you’ve completed your forecast, you can make changes and do what-if scenario planning.  For example, if the forecast shows that you will run out of cash in week seven, you have some time to decide what you need to do to remedy the shortfall. Options might be:

  • Accelerate the collection of your receivables.
  • Dip into your line of credit to cover a portion the shortfall.
  • Furlough some of your workers.

Plug your selected scenario into the forecast to see how much that relieves your shortfall.

The benefits of creating a 13-week cash flow forecast are many. You can see what actions need to be taken and when to take them well ahead of time. You can also see how much of an action you need to take. For example, instead of furloughing 50 percent of your staff, you may only need to furlough 25 percent.  Or instead of borrowing $50,000, you might only need $20,000.

The cash flow forecast can also save time when developing your annual budget. Budgets are especially useful when business conditions are volatile or when business owners need all the clarity they can get.

Try your hand creating a 13-week cash flow forecast for your business, or reach out to us for help any time.

Learn about the Audit Trail Feature in QuickBooks Desktop and Online from Rhonda Rosand, CPA from New Business Directions, LLC.

The Audit Trail tracks the who did what when: it tracks the history of a transaction, where it started, what changes were made and what it looks like now. This tool can be especially useful to accountants.