Monthly Archives: May 2011

I want to do a fundraiser, but I have no clue how to get one. Any ideas?

The sky is the limit on where you can find fundraisers but actually landing one is the hard part.  You can also cold call/cold mail/cold email locations, but without following up, you likely are wasting your time.  Regardless, here is a list of places you can try.  Some are free, some will cost you money.

  • Ask people you know if they know anyone who is looking
  • Talk to people you know who are involved in different activities
  • Contact your local schools and churches
  • Make sure to tell customers at your home parties
  • Advertise them when you do events
  • Put an ad up on classifieds that you offer fundraisers
  • Check the classifieds to see who is advertising a fundraiser – car wash, steak night – and see if they are interested in another type of fundraiser
  • Put up posters wherever you can
  • Contact any type of community organization or hall to let them know you do fundraisers – while they may not do them, they may know people who do that they can pass your information on to
  • Get in touch with your local chamber of commerce to see if you can get listed with them
  • Put ads in the newspaper

 

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How should I approach someone about a fundraiser?

It is a good idea to have a letter that gives a brief overview of your fundraiser that is one to two pages.  This is a letter you can give to anyone who seems interested at all.  You could also put it in your hostess packages and your recruiting packages.  A bulleted list is great for the introduction letter so they can see at a glance what it involves.

  • Organization makes 35% of sales
  • 15 of our top selling products are available to you
  • Product ships to location of your choice
  • Selling packets provided with information about product

From there, a second letter, or information packet can be prepared.  You could give this out with the first letter or you may choose to wait and see if they have an interest before you give them one.  This will be a more detailed letter which explains more about the fundraiser and how the process works.  Some suggested topics:

  • Comparison to other fundraisers (ie. Chocolate bars, popcorn)
  • Different sales levels equal what profits
  • Selling price of products
  • What will be supplied to help organization be successful
  • What the organizations responsibilities will be
  • What your responsibilities will be as a consultant
  • A suggestion for time frame of fundraiser as well as shipping
  • Acceptable payment methods
  • Information about tax exempt status is that is an option
  • Application form is one is required
  • Who pays for the supplies – ie. Order forms

What else would you include?

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Office Supplies

Office supplies of blue

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I don’t know about you, but I have a thing for office supplies – I love them, especially pens!  But a person needs more than just pens to keep their office and business running smoothly and productive.   If you are just starting out or you have been in this for a while, but are trying to get organized, here are some basics you will need for your office.

Holders – I have one for all those pretty pens.  I also keep my box cutter in it with the blade covered.  If you don’t have pens floating around your house, you may need to purchase some.

Paperclips – These are great for temporarily keeping things together.  You can buy something nice to put them in, but if you are trying to save money, re-use something you already have.  I use a pill bottle.

Stapler and staples – Great for keeping things together once they are ready to be filed.  I also take mine to my parties and staple my business cards onto the receipt.

Folders/Envelopes – Use for storing various papers from bookkeeping or other paper you need to keep organized.  These also work great for creating hostess and recruit packages.

Organizers – I mentioned last week that I have a three tier sorter that I use for my paperwork before I have dealt with it.  This is not something you need but something that may come in handy.  I believe I paid 3 bucks a tier at the dollar store.

Other items you may want – Binders, A marker, Rubber bands.

Some of these items are great to buy at your dollar store, but sometimes, you can actually get a better deal elsewhere.  For instance, I got my envelopes at Costco for about $10 which makes them 5 cents each.  At the dollar store, you get 10 for $1, which makes them 10 cents each.

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Organizing your Workspace

Typical rolltop desk

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They say a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind, but it is also usually the sign of an organized person, which is important when you are running your own business.  If you have a customer call you and they can’t remember what they ordered last time but they want the same thing, the easier you can find their order, the happier you will both be.  Not to mention, when you are working on your accounting, it will be easier.  I know I have lost some receipts due to not being organized enough.

Set up a Space – Set up a space that all paperwork goes into until you have time to deal with it.  I bought a couple bins that go together in a little tower that I have set on a filing cabinet I have.  The top bin is for paper to deal with, the middle bin is paper that is dealt with but needing filing, and the bottom one is a bit of a catch all for other things.

Keep Things Tidy – This sounds like a no brainer, but it isn’t that easy to do.  I have a pen caddy on my desk which the pens do stay in but other things clutter up my desk.  It does make it harder to sit down and work at my desk as it feels clutter-y and I get distracted by the mess.

Systems – Most people find that setting up a system works best for them.  What that system is only you know.  But set yourself up to make this as easy as you can.  Maybe it is a system for how you organize your contacts on your computer and an easy way to find what they last ordered.  Maybe it is a system to help you get your accounting done in a timely manner and the most efficient way possible.  Whatever it is, if it works for you, stick to it!

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How can I keep up with leads?

3 ring binder (opened)

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Organization is not a strong suit for a lot of us, so you are not alone.  Take a deep breath and we will get you on the right track.

You are going to need your old orders or contact cards or whatever you have with these people’s information on them.

You will need a lead sheet as well which I am going to talk about next.

A lead sheet is full of information.  It is an entire 8 ½ by 11 sheet that you fill out when you are talking to people on the phone.  These are the people who are interested in something.  Whether they are looking for a certain product, to do a party, or to join your team, you want to keep track of them.

You may want to create a generic lead sheet that incorporates all these elements as you never know when someone may escalate from one area to the next.

Start your lead sheet with their contact information – name, address, phone, email, preferred contact method, preferred time of day.

Next, you are going to want to record other information.  I like to record where I have met them so you may want to leave a line or two blank here and call it “How we met” or something else similar.

From here, you want to get to the purpose of this sheet.  How you organize the data is up to you and what makes the most sense to you.  You may want to set up the following categories and then different checks after them.

  • Looking for Product
  • Wanting to Host
  • Considering Joining

Regardless, make sure you leave a spot to put general notes.  For instance, I have had people that want to host a party three months down the road because they are moving next month.  I will put a note “moving in Sept, call in Oct for Nov booking”.  This way, when I get in touch I can ask them how the move went.  This typically will get people talking and more receptive to your idea.  Or in this situation, you can ask if they were still considering having a party and giving it an open house theme for people to come over and check out the new place.

As to how to organize these, I put the “Wanting to Host” in tabs for each month.  They get filed in the month I need to call them.  I have seen people put multiple potential hostesses on a page, but then it gets messy when they require calls in different months.

When you are talking to a “Considering Joining” you can ask them at the end of the call when they want you to call again.  If they are putting it off due to a life event, as permission to call them after that event (if there is a date for it) and file the same as “Wanting to Host”.

I would set up a special area for the “Looking for product” people that you will check each time there is a new book to see if you have that product yet.

I hope this helps you get started.  Your company may already have some lead sheets created so that you do not have to create your own.  If you are not sure, ask your upline.

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Keeping Track of your Accounting Paperwork

Replacement filing cabinet

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Unfortunately, any type of business generates paper and you have to organize it in some way that you can find it again if needed.  You may need to find it due to warranty issues, to see what a customer ordered last, or heaven forbid, you get audited and you have to show the paperwork to the auditors.   Here are some suggestions on how to organize it all.  If this doesn’t sound like a good system to you, use it to figure out your own method – we don’t all work the same!

For me, as I do not put through a lot of parties and orders each month, I find an envelope system works well.  I picked up a box of about 200 9 ½ by 12 envelopes at Costco for about 10 bucks and I have barely used any.

Sales:

I take all the sales slips from each party and staple them together.  I mark the top one with the order number and the date I submitted the order to my company and put them in a folder labeled for the appropriate month.  In an effort to save paper, I save the order from my company in a PDF format to my computer with the order number.  You could easily print the page down and staple it to the front.

Expenses:

I have another folder for expenses throughout the year.  Again, I keep PDF copies on the computer for as many items as I can (for instance, utility bills as I get them all electronically).  For receipts for other things, such as trade shows or supplies bought at the store, I keep them in an envelope labeled “Expenses”.  I make sure to photocopy all the ones that are on thermal paper as they tend to fade which will not help you in the future.

If the expense envelope gets too full, or if you have a lot of expenses through the year, you could easily sub-divide it.  Select the divisions that make the most sense to you.

Banking:

Another folder you should create is for banking.  I would recommend taking your bank statement and attaching any receipts behind it that are not already accounted for in your sales or expense folders.   You may not have anything left but bank charges and interest.  Make sure to account for those in your bookkeeping and put these in their own envelope.  If you use a credit card, it should be in an envelope separate from your bank account simply due to the amount of paper generated.

Whichever folders or envelopes you create, start new ones on January 1.

 

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Paid Accounting Software

Screen shot of homebank

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There are many options when it comes to paid accounting software that you can use with your direct sales business.  If you are looking and do not know where to turn, ask other consultants what they use.  There is some software targeted to direct sellers but that does not mean it is going to be the best option for you.

An advantage to a paid program is that it tends to have more features as well as better support. While the help line is not there to help you figure out how to record a purchase, they can assist you if your software is acting up or not doing what you want.

One of the biggest issues with paid software is that if you do not like the program you are stuck using it or else you are out the money you spent.  A program that has a free trial before you have to pay for it is a great way to try a program without committing to it.

Chances are you will not need a program with lots of bells and whistles depending on what you are doing with your direct sales business.  One of the biggest things to consider when you are shopping for your accounting software is what you will need it for.  If you are not sure, peruse this list and see what you need.

Business Size – How much business are you doing?  Several thousand a year?  Are you up into the 6 or 7 digits, before decimals?

Payroll – Do you have people working for you that get an hourly wage or per project?   This does not include people on your downline who you make commission off of.  This would not include any contractors you may hire that get a flat fee such as website designers.  These are people that you pay a wage to and where you would need to deduct things such as income tax and other required deductions.

Compatibility – Do you need your accounting software to be able to connect to things such as your email program or a scheduling program?   This may not be needed for a business such as direct sales, but it can be nice to have them connect so you can easily pull up stats about Suzy’s last party from your accounting software and import it into your organization program.  One such program is Sage ACT! which can be connected to your email program and with some of the different accounting programs.

For a more in depth explanation, please see my article on “How to Choose Accounting Software

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Free Accounting Software

Software

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As accounting is a necessary evil, there are many software options out there.  Some are paid, some are free.  Today we are going to talk about free software.  Using software can definitely be beneficial as you can run reports in it to see how you are doing and some of the reports can be quite detailed.  Many also provide reports to help you when it comes to tax time to help you figure out what your different expenses are.  No matter what you use, expect to spend some time getting it setup and learning how to use it.

One of the biggest advantages to using free software is exactly that, it’s free.  If you are not sure if you are going to like a piece of software or are even going to do your own accounting, this is low risk.  You can try a few different programs too to see what you like or do not like.

But like many free things, there are some disadvantages.  One of these is that there may be limits to what it is capable of doing.  Payroll is quite often a feature that free software does not support.  Chances are this will not be an issue though in your direct sales business.   Another problem you may encounter is lack of support or documentation to help you with the program.

With the above said, there is still no harm in trying a free software program.  Here are some program suggestions for you.  Note:  This is not an endorsement of any of these programs as I have not used them personally.

Microsoft Office Accounting Express

GnuCash

Turbocash

Personally, I use an Excel spreadsheet for my accounting, but then, I am an accountant by trade.  That said, I plan to move my books to a program so that I can run various reports and to help myself out at tax time.

Open Office Spreadsheet

You can read more about these options in this article at Bright Hub – Free Accounting Software

 

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Basic Accounting Transactions

Accounts

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This is to help you with the basic bookkeeping you will need for your business.   Whether you do your books manually or using software, it is always helpful to know the theory behind it.  This also applies if you hire someone as then you can understand what they are doing.

In accounting, most people use a double entry method, which means there are two sides to the transaction.  The transaction equals 0 but it affects two different accounts.  You can do it differently, but this is the most common method.

I always like to think of things in relation to how it affects the Cash account.  Cash is always a debit balance, which means there is money in the account.  A debit to cash means that you have taken in money and a credit to cash means that you have spent money.  If you can always relate your transaction to cash, you should be fine.

Customer purchases from you:

DR Cash                                          110.00

CR Sales                                          95.00 CR

CR Taxes collected                     5.00 CR

CR Shipping                                   10.00 CR

 

On the other hand, you will have expenses.  These will decrease cash.  A transaction for that looks like this:

DR Expense                                  50.00

DR Taxes                                        5.00

CR Cash                                          55.00 CR

 

Another time that you would decrease cash is when you are buying products from your company. If you have to use a credit card, you would use “credit card” instead of “cash”

DR Purchases                               75.00

DR Taxes                                        5.00

DR Shipping                                  10.00

CR Cash OR Credit Card            90.00 CR

 

When it then comes time to pay off your credit card, you would make the following transaction:

DR Credit Card                             90.00

CR Cash                                          90.00 CR

You will see between these two transactions, the credit card balance would be 0 which should equal your balance.

There is no reason why you cannot do your bookkeeping manually but using software is definitely a better option as it can run reports to help you out.  For instance, you can run a report when it comes to tax time to help you fill out your taxes.  You can typically get software that will help you to reconcile your bank or to provide year end reports to show how your business is doing.

Watch the posts the next two days for free and paid accounting software information.

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All About Receipts

Cash rounding receipts from ICA, Karlskrona, S...

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– Guest Post by Chrystal Mahan

Oh receipts. How we love to hate you. Tiny scraps of paper that crumble in our pockets, the bottoms of our purses or bags, or melt away when paired with the tiniest drop of water. You pesky receipts, why must you taunt us so with your date, time, place of business, and the amount we spend, only to fade over time when printed on carbon paper?

Many business owners have a love hate relationship with receipts. They are a necessary evil. Receipts are small enough to be annoying, important enough to help us keep track of financials, or even worse, help us out with an audit.

We don’t want them, but we have to have them. Businesses give them to us and keep a copy of them for their own records. They do this for the same reason we have to keep our own for our records. Proof. That is what it all boils down to. One simple word, proof. We need the proof of the transaction. We need to add the receipt to our paper trails.

One of the easiest things to do with receipts is to set up a filing system. You can label these how you wish: gas, meals, supplies, utilities, insurance, cell phone, and internet. Some business owners prefer to staple them to the appropriate bank or credit card statement.

Got carbons? Be sure to make a copy of those receipts since they can fade over time. Once tax season hits, that receipt will be blank.

  • Don’t have the space for a filing system? There are a few other options.
  • Using a camera take photographs of the receipts and store copies online.
  • Keep an Excel spreadsheet of the receipts, noting date, time, place and amount.
  • Keep extremely accurate notes/records in your business accounting program .
  • Use an online program such as Shoeboxed.com.

Whichever method you choose make sure it is the one that works best for you.

—-

Chrystal Mahan resides in Michigan. Mahan is a current college student working on a (double major) Bachelors in Accounting and Business, with plans to continue forward with a Masters.

She has 20 years of experience in the Accounting industry and over 10 in the field of Tax.

Mahan has been writing short stories since the age of nine and professionally since 2005. Mahan owns her own freelance business and writing appears on various blogs and websites.

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