What Small Businesses Need to Know About Bookkeeping

Small business owners are generally hardworking and very passionate of their job. They are positive, resilient, and are seriously dedicated to ensure a profitable and sustainable business. However, most of them aren’t accountants. And if one decides to start a business, it’s not uncommon to feel lost in finding where to begin with the business’ accounting.

For small business owners, it’s likely that they are the ones responsible for making sure that their books are in order. If you’re among those entrepreneurs with no formal education and experiences about accounting, perhaps your bookkeeping practices are non-existent—and thus utilization of accounting software comes in handy. Here are the some points you need to know to keep your business checked and on track.

How to Begin

One best place to start your bookkeeping is with cash basis accounting. This is very basic and very simple recording—cash in, cash out record. Take note when you get paid for a sale and take note when you spend. Make sure to record every in and out of money when it happens. Many Singapore businesses use this accounting method with an accounting software from Singapore as a springboard to a more complex system.

What to Record

What to record? Actually, everything! It is crucial to keep track of all incoming and outgoing payments. Keep in mind that the more in-depth your records, the easier it is to check and manage your finances. Here are the things you need to keep records of:

Incoming

• The product you sold
• Details of the client you sold it to
• The price of the product
• The date and time you received the payment
• The amount of sales tax collected (if applicable)

Outgoing

• The taxes paid
• Your employees’ salaries
• Business expenses (inventory, office supplies, renovation, etc)
• The space rent and utility bills you pay

As a business owner, it should be a number one priority to keep track of every dollar that goes in and out of your company—not only the ones you see on a day-to-day basis but also the monthly and annual expenses. Keep in mind that every expense is deductible to your income—even a cup of coffee with a prospect partner or the insurance you purchased for yourself.

How to Record

Your organization is going to affect your bookkeeping quality. Ideally, you should be recording your transactions every day.
Most small businesses in Singapore use Excel spreadsheets to record business transactions. While this method is enough to log financial transactions, rarely does this encompass a complete record or allow you to visualize your net income. Don’t worry though, there is a variety of accounting software programs in the market to make bookkeeping not take as much time as it sounds.

With accounting software, you are encouraged to log data specifically to its designated places to make recording and checking easier. Quality bookkeeping isn’t just about for filing taxes, but also about understanding your business and knowing the amount of liquidity you have on-hand to work with.

How to Ensure Quality Bookkeeping

Proper accounting and bookkeeping is one of the easiest areas to procrastinate on, but it’s one of the most critical elements as well to creating sustainable and profitable business. Luckily, you don’t need to have a degree in accounting or have professional experience in related fields to become an accountant of your own corporation. With the right accounting software, it’s easy to create accurate reports to help you manage your finances better and ensure your business stays on top of its game.

Generally, bookkeeping is a necessity for both big and small companies. It allows owners to facilitate their business and enable them to make educated decisions for the betterment of the company. To ensure real-time data encoding and accurate data records, purchase the right accounting software program for your business.

The Basics and Principles of Freight Forwarding

Introduction

Freight forwarding services are essential not just to trade in Singapore, but also to international trade. They have the same function as a logistics company, albeit one that acts in a person, corporation, or organization’s behalf in the coordination of different transportation firms in order to ship products all over the world.

Roles and Services

Different kinds of products are imported and exported by a freight forwarder in conjunction with air freight, sea freight, or even by land transportation services in Singapore every day, and depending on the destination that these products are shipped, more than one shipping company may be involved in moving goods.

Because these companies specialize in coordinating shipments and cargo services, any freight forwarding service should be able to cover the following basic roles:

• Quote and secure freight costs – Rates for local freight and international freight vary, and one factor that makes one more expensive than the other is the nature (quantity included) of the product being moved.

• Book cargo with carriers – Bookings with a freight forwarder at Singapore should be made as soon as possible in order to ensure that the cargo is placed in an ideal area in the carrier’s vessel that would expose it to the least amount of damage.

• Prepare the necessary documents for export – Forwarding companies act as liaison to different carriers as well as customs officials in different countries other than Singapore, which requires them to procure the needed documents required by these countries.

• Plan inland routing – Forwarding companies need to be adept when it comes to their logistics services in order to plan the fastest and most efficient inland routes for cargo delivery (and sometimes assembly).

• Insurance – Believe it or not, the carriers themselves actually have limited liability. This is because of the different conditions and situations that could take place during the time the cargo is being transported, either by sea or air, but especially by sea.

Here are some of the more advanced roles that forwarding companies need to be able to cover as well:

Consolidate freight – Also called “assembly service”, where logistics services make large shipments easier to move by breaking them up on land and assembling them once they reach the warehouse to be ready for export.

Indirect carrier – Of course, forwarding companies themselves don’t operate vehicles. This is why they are otherwise known as NVOCCs (non-vehicle operating common carrier), meaning they contract other carrier companies to transport the goods.

Interface with EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) – Forwarding companies need to know where the cargo is headed as well as the carrier’s route, which is why they need to keep track of it in real time via the internet, GPS, and satellite imaging.

Logistics management – With all these roles that forwarding companies have to fulfill, they have the similar function to that of a logistics company, coordinating different services to ensure on-time delivery of the cargo to the destination point.

Freight forwarding is complicated, especially if you’re not familiar with it. If choosing the best from the different freight forwarding services is important for every company in need of a particular product in bulk, a different story could be said for freight forwarding companies. For them, choosing the right shipping company is highly important.

Choosing a shipping company to be your freight forwarder is also important because they are hired with moving the goods as fast, safe, and efficient as possible to ensure that they reach their destination in an undamaged state.

Insurance

However, there is no guarantee that every shipment arrives safely at the destination point, which is why there is insurance exists to cover or compensate the loss of cargo by air or sea. If the cargo is being transported by sea, the possible reasons for its loss or deterioration upon arrival may include the following:

Water damage – Waves will wash overboard and potentially damage delicate cargo, especially if the carrier encounters stormy seas on route to the destination.

Jettison – In situations where the ship could be compromised, the captain would have to throw cargo overboard in order to keep the vessel afloat.

Fire – Hazardous cargo such as chemicals and fireworks are often only allowed to travel by international waters, which is why carriers store them on the deck.

Sinking –In the event of a ship sinking due to engine failure or bad weather, all cargo would be lost and cannot be salvaged.

Theft and/or piracy – Pirates will always ply international waters in search of loot, and there’s no guarantee that the carrier won’t run into them during the voyage.

Some Things to Remember

These are the things you should be familiar with when opting to have your shipment delivered via sea freight:

Consolidation – Where a particularly large shipment is broken down into several smaller segments and transported to the forwarder’s warehouse where they are then assembled.

LCL (less than container load) – This mode is for when a cargo is consolidated in a warehouse and then shipped along with other cargo.

FCL (full container load) – In this mode, the goods are not broken down into separate shipments.

RORO (roll-on roll-off) – This mode is generally reserved for drivable cargo that is too big for most containers.

Heavy lift/Break-bulk/Project Cargo – Specialized requests for oversized cargo need specific details as well as the starting date in order to be processed and shipped.

The reason why these terms are associated with sea freight rather than air freight is because transporting goods by sea is generally reserved for particularly large quantities of shipments.

When transporting goods by air, all that’s needed is the following:

• The shipper’s full name and address,
• Full address of cargo location,
• Commodity details (i.e., dimensions, weight, name, description), and
• MSDS (for hazardous cargo)

Conclusion

The biggest factor that companies should consider when looking to ship products, whether it’s importing or exporting, is time, which is what a freight forwarder offers. They provide the company with all the documentation needed as well as act on their behalf in coordinating the different transportation services needed to move the cargo.

Factors to Consider in Naming Your Business Venture

As much as we’d like for each brand to be distinct and truly unique, there will always be cases of similar sounding ones. Such was the case of the EtonHouse International Group in Singapore, which won a trademark infringement suit against China’s EtonKids Educational Group in September of 2017. The legal tussle has stretched over two years. The concluding verdict? EtonHouse was granted SGD 163, 680 in statutory damages.

Cases like these are the reason why you should consider your trademark vigilantly. Before you register trademark, you must also be open to the idea that it may be similar with a pre-existing one especially if it’s made up of commonly used words. To save yourself from the trouble of coming up with a new brand name or paying pricey legal fines, deliberate upon your trademark well.

Intellectual Property

Any registered mark/trademark is bound to be protected by intellectual property rights. If your business was first to have the name registered, you can file lawsuit cases against other companies whose names appear or sound similar with yours. Let it be known that a trademark is as good as a brand indicator – therefore no two businesses must have similar brands to avoid confusion.

Having your trademark registered is one foolproof way to protect your brand as well. Consumers would get confused if two businesses possess similar-sounding names even if it is registered with trademark registration Singapore hence it is only fitting to avoid cases like these where you might lose sales and profit.

Key Factors to Consider

1. Strength of the Mark
When it comes to the trademark law, the term mark refers to any business trademark – may it be the name, design, or symbol which is officially affiliated with the business and any of its services. Marks can range from weakest to the strongest: such as generic, descriptive, suggestive, and arbitrary. The more unique and distinct the mark, the more it is protected under the Singapore trademark law.

For example, the term Aspirin is considered a generic mark hence it receives little to almost no protection. It has been popularly used around the globe to refer to various types of pain relief medications.

However, the mark Apple for computers is considerably arbitrary. There is no direct connection between the name and the product, so the mark receives more protection.

2. Commonality of the Mark

In trademark registration, it is also important to consider the commonality of the mark. If your brand name is composed of commonly used words, expect to be possibly subjected to copyright infringement cases more often than going with distinct and unique marks. In short, a trademark is ‘weakened’ if its words are broadly used by other businesses.

In health and wellnesses clinics, you often see the words “health” and “fit” as a part of their business name. Should you wish to go with “Fitspiration” for your gym business, you are likely to be challenged in court. Remember that there are similar trade names across the city-state in all businesses – thus it is encouraged to be as unique with your mark as possible.

3. Actual Confusion / Similarity of Mark

There is an issue to be resolved when people mistake your business for something else, or vice versa. If your gym business “Fitspiration” is something they associate with a store that sells healthy, organic food or protein whey powders – then something must not be right. Perhaps an existing grocery store is named almost similarly (e.g. “Fitness Inspiration”), a matter which might bring trademark registration troubles along the way.

To avoid being in this situation, do your research before you register trademark. Familiarize all the related names of stores and businesses which are similar with your field. Do your best to come up with a mark that truly stands out among the rest.

4. Advertising Media

Before you register TM for your business, consider the advertising and marketing platforms you are to use. If a similar-sounding business promotes on the same platform as yours, people are bound to get confused at some point. Imagine hearing two separate ads on the radio about “Fitspiration” and “Fitness Inspiration” – only to assume either these two business endeavors are related to each other or is the same.

Also, compare the marketing template, publicity materials, website design of similar-sounding businesses with yours. This might just help you win a trademark lawsuit case in the future, should you ever find yourself in one.

5. Can Last Forever

Allot time in deciding about your trademark name because once you get it registered, it can remain with you forever if properly used and documented. Should you go with a trendy phrase for your mark, chances are the trend might die out over time, and thus might render future customers confused. Choose a mark that is classy so you will never worry about it going out of style.

Go with a name you prefer the most so you won’t have any regrets in the long run. Keep in mind that trademark registration can last in perpetuity, so you might as well choose the best brand/mark for yourself. That way, you won’t blame your younger self for coming up with such a childish, naïve name for a brand mark.

Your trademark can take you places – and we mean that in the literal sense as well. Choose a good trademark and take it with you to the path of glory and success. Go with the name you will be proud of representing, even after 10 to 20 years’ time. Also remember that having a good brand reputation can shed some recognition on your business efforts. The more your business grows and flourishes, the more value will be attached to your trademark.

Everything You Need to Know About the CRM System

The CRM system has helped hundreds and thousands of businesses across the globe. To cut things short, it automates data and makes work easier for any personnel in the company. Rather than just viewing CRM as another software, however, it is also advised to acknowledge how the system has incorporated a customer-driven philosophy during the past years.

What is CRM?

CRM, which stands for Customer Relationship Management, is an effective business strategy to reduce operation costs and increase profitability. It is designed to cater to customer satisfaction, advocacy, and loyalty. Effective CRM gathers information from all data sources made available within a company along with appropriate sources from third parties – to provide a holistic view of every customer in real time.

A CRM system allows employees who regularly face customers (such as those working in sales, marketing, or customer support) to make quick yet deliberated decisions on cross-selling, target marketing strategies, and upselling opportunities.

More than just a software

It is easy to generalize cloud CRM merely as another type of software, but with the dawn of advancements in technology, CRM software has evolved into adapting a customer-centric philosophy. This ideology permeates an entire organization if the system is adapted and imposed.

To implement a successful CRM system initiative, three key elements must be followed:

  1. People – The people involved in the organization, from the CEO to the sales management staff, must buy in and support CRM. This involves allotting time to get acquainted with the system, as well as implementing the regulations and following protocol. A cloud CRM system paves way for a centralized database; enabling your employees to get the information they need at the click of a button, such as sales reports from the past years. Getting them acquainted with the system will definitely ease their jobs.
  2. Processes – Your business processes must also be reengineered to boost the CRM system. It is encouraged to brainstorm and think of ways on how the CRM software in Singapore can better serve your customers. Are they beneficial to your company’s main objectives? Are the processes user-friendly for customers who aren’t updated with what’s new in the tech world? These are some considerations you must keep in mind.
  1. Technology – Business firms in Singapore must also select the technology best-designed to drive these improved processes into actuality. Not only should you provide the best data to employees, but you should also ensure these systems are easy enough to operate so users won’t balk. Having the best CRM software isn’t enough. You must have the appropriate hardware and other tech tools to deliver your CRM system to its best potential as well.

These three elements are considered the foundations of an effective customer relationship management system. If one element is disregarded and not given importance, the entire CRM system of your company might end up in shambles.

More strategies to an effective CRM system

Another strategy to study your target customer’s shopping behaviors and needs is to create a strong relationship with them. Remember that good customer relationships are crucial to business success. You might have the best recruits for sales management, but if you don’t maintain an amicable relationship with your customers, then the skills of your talents can only do so much for the company.

Although there’s a lot of technical aspects to a CRM system, it’s considerably unwise to think of CRM in mainly technological terms. As was previously mentioned in this article, the system has now evolved into adapting a customer-centric philosophy. It’s advised to think of CRM as a process that will help combine pieces of vital information about target customers, sales reports, marketing responsiveness and effectiveness, and current market trends instead.

CRM can be considered as a crucial part to help the company attain business success in the long run. The system is designed to enable businesses gain insights on the value and behavior of customers, primarily through using factors such as people, processes, and technology. Gaining these important insights allow any company in Singapore to increase customer service efficiency, add upsell and cross-sell opportunities, improve sales, close rates, and marketing processes, reduce operation costs, and enhance customer targeting and profiling.

Potential challenges

While a CRM system sounds like the holy grail to any businesses, adapting the system is not without challenges and hurdles along the way.

To ensure CRM is effective, a company must convince its personnel that change is good. CRM might take a while to get used to – especially among employees who aren’t well-versed in the tech field – but it can truly benefit the company in the long run. Accordingly, companies must conduct initial briefings and test-runs so as to allow the staff to familiarize themselves with the system.

Next, business practices must also be thoroughly analyzed to decide if there are parts which needs to be modified. This also allows a company to brainstorm about ways on how to best go about it. Accordingly, it also paves way for deciding on which kind of customer information is useful and relevant. The decision-making process is crucial to know how the information will be used.

A team of competent executives must also select the right technology to be used by the company. This allows easy automation of any necessary information that needs to be automated. This selection process depends on the size of your company and how heavy your stored data is, hence it can range from a few weeks processing time to a year.

Some firms make use of web-based/cloud CRM technology which has less monthly maintenance costs per user, but other large firms opt to spend a heap load of budget to install and customize the CRM technology as they deem fit. Considerably, a CRM system is also an investment for your business.

 

Disclaimer: This list is compiled in no particular order.

Factors to Consider When Opting for a Hosted VoIP System

You might have heard the terms hosted VoIP or hosted PBX from your VoIP service provider in Singapore, but what do these mean and what benefits can your business get from this type of service?

What is a VoIP System and What Does It Do?

VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol has all the benefits of traditional telephony, but it does more by harnessing the potential of new technology. Its most basic definition is the transmission of voice over a digital network, but a lot of things happen in the process. Using VoIP doesn’t necessarily mean your company will solely be relying on the Internet, but you will be relying on the same protocols that the Internet uses. The protocol in VoIP Singapore refers to the set of rules used to communicate.

The IP or Internet Protocol is the basis of IP networking used in most public, private, corporate, cable, and wireless networks by uniting a company’s various locations into one communications network. Unlike traditional telephony, however, VoIP has more support and features.

One type of VoIP service cannot be used by companies of all sizes in Singapore, that is why some services are designed for the specific needs of a business. For example, some companies are able to host VoIP and PBX within the premises in an arrangement called on-site or on-premises PBX systems; while others prefer to have a hosted PBX system or hire a third-party to provide the hardware and software.

What Does Hosted VoIP Mean?

Hosted VoIP system is just another name for hosted PBX, in which hosted means that the hardware and the PBX are hosted at another location (or off-site location) away from where the service is used, such as in your office premises. The terms could also mean that the business has its own VoIP Singapore system, but hosted PABX is hosted by a VoIP data provider center.

• PBX Phone System

PBX means private branch exchange, or the internal switching of an office’s telephone system made up of different telephone system branches that are linked together. For a medium or large-scale business enterprises that have a lot of phones, it is impractical to get a separate phone line for each one, but a hosted PABX can link all the internal phones. These in turn will be linked to the external world, so that clients, customers, and employees outside the office can make and receive calls from the company. This is why most companies have one or two phone numbers you can connect to.

A PBX phone system has the following roles: create connections by functioning as a switch for different phone users; ensure that the connections are clear by keeping all the resources in proper order; terminate calls correctly if the user has hung up the phone; and to record all the data regarding each call.

• Hosted PBX

Keeping that in mind, hosted PBX or virtual PBX means that all the features of a traditional PBX phone system is included, but the switching is located at another site and only the phones are found in the office premises. A PBX, however, is not similar to a traditional phone, because you can use extensions to make calls within the network.

A hosted PBX in VoIP Singapore has the same benefits as the traditional PBX phone system; specifically, it has the following functions: provide the business with one phone number that individuals will use to contact the company; allow internal calls between different stations in the company; include automated and customizable greetings; use of an automatic call distribution; include different management features; include custom music for callers on hold; record voice messages; and provide automated call answers and menu options for different extensions.

• IP PBX Phone System

An IP PBX telephone system combines the benefits of both the PBX phone system and the power of VoIP technology. IP PBX, therefore, stands for Internet Protocol private branch exchange. It’s an option that companies of any size should seriously consider if they want to have all the benefits of a PBX phone system. For small-scale companies, the extra features can help companies expand their market and make the business look more professional and attractive to clients.

Whether it’s a hosted VoIP system or an on-site VoIP system, an IP PBX telephone system has scalability, better management option, and more enhanced features than other VoIP services for businesses. Some experts consider hosted PABX telephone system as a full PBX system because of the following additional benefits: mobility, voice messaging, conferencing, measurement of important phone data, and supports both IP trunks and IP stations. The last benefit of VoIP Singapore, however, is only possible if your company is using the standard SIP (or session initiation protocol) to signal and control communication sessions.

Like cloud VoIP, which is also another option for small to medium-scale businesses, the IP PBX telephone system will not require the office to buy or upgrade its hardware, because it’s software-based. If you’re looking to improve your services in the future, the IP PBX telephone system is also easier to upgrade than other PBX systems.

What are the Benefits of a Hosted PBX Phone System?

A hosted PBS phone system will allow a company to save more for its information technology solutions, because there is no need to install, upgrade, troubleshoot, and operate the hardware and software needed. Whether it’s cloud VoIP for small businesses or an IP PBX telephone system for larger companies, there is no longer a need to plan and invest on PBX technology that have short replacement cycles as technology advances at a faster rate than ever.

What if you are planning to expand your business in Singapore? No worries there, because both the cloud VoIP and the hosted IP PBX telephone systems are easy to upgrade. You will only be paying for what your company needs at the moment and there will be no problems with blocking as the hosted PBX system grows along with your business.

Choosing a Good Property Management Company

When selling and managing real estate properties, an owner may need to entrust the responsibility to a property management company. However, just like any business, there are ones that provide excellent service and poor service. These companies exist to provide help and spare you the worries of managing your estate. The key to maximizing the benefits of your properties is to use the right Singapore property management provider. Make sure to hire the right one by keeping in mind the following criteria.

1. Ask for recommendations

Your prospect managing agent should be able to provide you with a list of references of their happy clients, as well as previous clients. Require your prospect partner to provide you with two to three recommendations of landlords they have worked and have been working with. You can also ask other real estate owners that you know if they have worked with the condo manager. If the references gave you extraordinary remarks about the service provider, you may want to go on with the process and know their processes better.

2. Notice their style of communication

Interview a couple of property management companies in Singapore and notice how they respond to inquiries. If they get back to you right away, that’s a good sign. If it takes more than a day, a week or a month to address your inquiries, consider moving to your next option. If they come late to your estate maintenance appointments, forget about calling them or showing up the next time around. Take these things as a sign of how they’ll work with you in the future.

3. Check the company’s processes

Ask the managing agent company representative about their tenant approval system, property maintenance process, marketing strategy, and rental collection procedure. If they can’t give you clear answers, the company may have inconsistent services. Bear in mind that the reason you’re hiring a property management agent is to obtain higher quality tenants. If the managing agent has less than ideal standards in qualifying renters, expect to get an equally low services and results.

4. Study the company’s history

A property management company that has been in the business for years knows very well the ins and outs of real estate management. Generally, condo manager companies who have worked with various estate owners and with exceptional reviews from quality clients are an ideal option to manage your assets.

5. Expect to pay a good amount for good services

Of course, professional estate maintenance service comes with a price. Most of the time, the service fees are determined from the rental value of the property, and may vary from a few hundred dollars to as much as one month’s rent. You have to decide whether the price is right and find out whether it’s worth it to you.

Working with a property manager makes everything easier, since all you would have to do is to wait for your tenants’ deposits. Just make sure, though, you understand everything about the agreement and that everything agreed upon is stated in the contract.