How happy are you with your financial situation right now?  In other words, do you feel personal financial pleasure or pain when it comes to your financial standing?

That is what the Personal Financial Satisfaction Index strives to measure for the typical American.

The PFSi is a quarterly economic indicator created by the American Institute of CPAs. This specific economic indicator weighs a variety of economic factors to calculate the financial standing of a typical American. These financial standings are only computed at a high level.

The main agenda of the PFSi is to calculate the difference between two component subindexes: the Personal Financial Pleasure Index and the Personal Financial Pain Index.  These two subindexes are each created of four, equally weighted proprietary and public factors, which ultimately measure the growth of assets and opportunities in the case of the Pleasure Index, as well as the erosion of assets and opportunities in the case of the Pain Index.

In other words, positive scores of the PFSi indicate that Americans are feeling personal financial pleasure. Negative scores, obviously, indicate that Americans are feeling personal financial pain. It might sound like a subjective emotional measure, but it’s not at all; it’s based on government statistics as well as proprietary AICPA data.

The PFSi has been mostly increasing from the third quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2019. Since then it has dropped dramatically. With the current pandemic still in place, unemployment and other economic factors have contributed to the drop in the index.  You can use the score as a measure against your own financial security and for planning purposes.

Read more about the index here: https://www.aicpa.org/interestareas/personalfinancialplanning/community/pfsi.html

Or reach out to us and we’ll be happy to answer any questions.

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 things to be ungrateful for, a negative list of every bad occurrence that has taken place since March due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In a sense, being sad or negative or depressed is simple. Being grateful is what’s really difficult, but 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 the U.S. holiday of 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 

Are you healthy? Are you able to see, to smell, to breathe, to walk? 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 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 clients or boss 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 clients or boss 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.

Regardless of the type of relationship—personal, professional, or even acquaintance—communication is key. Specifically, if you want to have a healthy relationship with any individual, then it’s important to communicate clearly and fully.

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. We’ve put together this article to not only detail the importance of customer communication, but also to provide some tips to 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 (hopefully) guaranteeing 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?

If any of this hasn’t been clear in the last year, it could be part of a reason why business dropped off.  To get it back, communicate, communicate, communicate!

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. In order to give the customer what they want, you have to connect with them. If you are able to 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 in order to get them to reveal 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. In order to give the customer what they want or need, you have to 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 are able to 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 pleasing your customers. After all, happy customers will come back.

One of the best tools to forecast cash requirements is the 13-week cash flow forecast. It can help a business owner predict what their cash balance will be 13 weeks in the future. It helps to answer whether there will be enough cash to cover payroll and bills for a particular week. If you’re having significant ups and downs in your cash balance, it’s the perfect tool to help gain clarity around your cash needs.

Thirteen weeks may sound like an odd length to select, but it’s the length of a calendar quarter. This is the length of a financial projection that is typically used when a business is in financial distress; however, it’s also useful when a company is going through some ups and downs or simply wants to get a better handle on its cash requirements.

The forecast computations 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 30 percent of your receivables.
  • Dip into your line of credit to cover a portion the shortfall.
  • Furlough 10 percent 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.

At the beginning of 2020, you might have thought that developing a business continuity plan was not a top priority. Or maybe you thought it was only for large businesses. Fast forward to today, and a business continuity plan has become an essential staple in business planning.

There are more business risks than ever before to consider that can affect business continuity. Businesses are being shuttered, reopened and shuttered again from the pandemic, fires, hurricanes and damage from riots, just to mention a few of the more common issues in this unusual year.

The biggest benefit of a business continuity plan is the process of developing it. It helps you think through the steps you should take if a business interruption occurs. If you have a disaster recovery plan – or even a few steps jotted down of what you’d do – then you have already started a portion of the process.

Here are some of the major pieces of a business continuity plan to consider developing for your business.

Roles and Responsibilities

In this section, all of the business stakeholders should be identified and listed. On a high level, questions like these should be answered:

  • What is each person’s role within the company, and how would that change if the business is interrupted?
  • What new skillsets should be acquired in the case of a disruption?

Potential Impacts to Your Business

This part of the continuity plan lists major scenarios where something could go wrong with your business.  It should include things like weather events, fire, riots, theft, leadership interruptions, cash flow shortages, and the long-term impact of the pandemic. For each event, an analysis should be made as to how it will affect the business and what possible outcomes could occur. This part is also called a Business Impact Analysis.

Recovery Strategies

Once you’ve identified impacts, the next set of questions covers how to most effectively recover from them.  These remedies might include seeking additional financing, selecting backup locations, checking IT department functionality, creating alternate supply chain and distribution sources, and identifying many more actions along these lines.

As we’ve seen this year, this is just as important to think through for small businesses as it is large businesses.

When owners and employees are not in the middle of an actual disaster, they can better map out a recovery strategy that’s optimal and cost-effective for the business.

Implementation

A good plan should be implemented through distribution, testing, and training. All stakeholders should read and understand the contents of the business continuity plan. The plan should be tested in drills and exercises when possible. Employees should be trained so they know their part and feel comfortable carrying it out while under high stress.

The long-term viability of your business is important, and it can be strengthened when you put a business continuity plan in place.  If we can help, feel free to reach out any time.