Realize a Work and Life Balance with a Virtual Assistant

Realize a Work and Life Balance with a Virtual Assistant

If you’re a small business owner, you’re probably busier than the typical employed worker.

A New York Enterprise Report survey found that:

  • 33% of small business owners work more than 50 hours per week
  • 25% work more than 60 hours a week

A Bank of the West Small Business Growth survey on business owners’ biggest challenges stated that:

  • 43% of business owners identified “always being on the job” as one of the biggest challenges they face
  • 39% identified “balancing work and family”

That same survey also asked small business owners to provide pieces of advice they’d give fellow owners. The top two were:

  • Make time for your family (62%)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help (58%)

Both pieces of advice make sense when seeking work and life balance.

However, as we’ve seen in the above stats, many business owners are challenged to leave work behind. As for asking for help, 70% of small business owners prefer to do everything themselves according to a UK survey.

Not following those two pieces of advice may be having a detrimental impact on your health and family life.

The Impact of Long Hours at Work

Working long hours can have significant implication for your health. Studies have shown that long work hours cause poor sleeping and eating habits. Long term impacts may include health issues like:

  • Hypertension
  • Digestive troubles
  • Chronic aches and pains
  • Heart problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

Too much time spent on work can have a significant impact on relationships. In this day and age, it’s nearly impossible to “leave work behind” when you consider the availability of laptops and cell phones. Often your spouse may feel estranged and disconnected as you spend much of your time on your computer and cell phone.

Quite simply, if you spend the majority of your time nurturing your business and not nurturing your home life—you could lose your spouse and family.

How a Virtual Assistance Can Help You Achieve a Work and Life Balance

Hiring a virtual assistant may be the best way to accomplish advice number 2—don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Many business owners are turning to virtual assistant firms like Business Solutions Unlimited to delegate many of their daily tasks. By freeing up their workload, they’re able to spend time with family and favorite relaxing activities.

These business owners are finding that they can hire a wide variety of skilled professionals through a virtual assistance firm at a cost much lower than hiring staff. Firms like Business Solutions Unlimited can provide professional virtual assistance services like administrative, marketing and bookkeeping.

Additionally, hiring virtual assistants can make business owners more productive. By delegating tasks, business owners can turn their attention toward other tasks important to their business and revenue.

Too Busy? Delegate Your Tasks

The demand for professional and skilled virtual assistants is growing. Industry experts predict there will be 1.8 billion active customers for virtual assistance services by 2021. Maybe it’s time you consider joining this trend.

Find out how delegating tasks to a virtual assistant firm like Business Solutions Unlimited can help you achieve a positive work and life balance.

Give us a call at (904) 429-4588 and let us get to work on your business tasks while you work on getting some balance back.

How to Optimize Your Business for Voice Search

How to Optimize Your Business for Voice Search

Just the other day, we were contemplating picking up some food from a restaurant on the way home from an event. Unfortunately, we had no cash, just a credit card.

We wanted to make sure that the restaurant took our credit card before making an order over the phone. I pressed the little microphone symbol on the phone and asked: “does such and such restaurant take credit cards?”

The answer came back that “yes, this restaurant accepts American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa credit cards.”

Once we parked, I curiously looked at my phone to see that the answer Google presented came from the restaurant’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

While waiting for our order, I scanned the restaurant’s FAQs. Subjects ranged from payment methods to open hours to types of food to nutrition. This was a rich source of information that Google was more than happy to access to present to their searchers.

It also reinforced the idea that local businesses need to optimize their online presence for voice search.

That’s Because a Lot of Users Will Be Using Voice Search

Today, 20% of mobile searches are by voice. Google predicts that 50% of searches will be by voice by 2020. In preparation, Google and other search engines are indexing content that will satisfy voice searches, which are typically:

  • 1% longer than text-based searches
  • More naturally/conversationally spoken
  • 3 times more likely to be for local purposes

And we’re not just talking about mobile voice searches.

Homes are Filling Up with Voice Assistant Devices

Your customers’ homes are filling up with voice assistant devices.

  • Google Home
  • Amazon Alexa
  • Apple HomePod
  • Facebook Portal
  • Microsoft Cortana

Soon, voice searches will be the primary way people get information about your business, products, and services.

A local business that optimizes their online presence for voice will be the businesses that provide the voice searchers with the answers they’re seeking.

How to Get Your Business Content Noticed for Voice Searches

Fortunately, optimizing your business’ online presence for voice search is primarily the same as optimizing for searches.

You Need to Establish Your Online Presence

All of these devices rely on information from the web. That means if you’ve taken the time to establish your online presence, you’ve provided these devices with the information they’re looking for.

Each of the devices tends to rely on multiple online sources for information about your business.

Google Home

  • Search Results: Google
  • Business Listings: Google My Business
  • Reviews: Google My Business

Amazon Alexa

  • Search: Bing
  • Business Listings: Yelp & Yext
  • Reviews: Yelp

Apple HomePod (Siri)

  • Search: Google
  • Business Listings: Apple Maps
  • Reviews: Yelp

Microsoft Cortana

  • Search: Bing
  • Business Listings: Bing
  • Reviews: Yelp

Facebook Portal

These devices are the new kids on the block. Facebook probably relies heavily on information found throughout their Facebook platform:

  • Facebook business pages
  • Reviews found on Facebook

Don’t Forget a FAQ Page

FAQs, when written correctly, can serve voice search queries better than most of the content on your website.

Content for FAQs is generally concise (under 30 words) and built to answer specific questions.

Develop and maintain a FAQ page on your website. Make a list of questions your customers tend to ask and answer them on your page.

Also, don’t forget about your Google My Business account. The search giant has conveniently added a section for you to add questions and answers about your business.

Is Managing Your Online Presence More than You Can Manage? Reach Out for Help.

Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call at (904) 429-4588 to learn more about the ways we can help your business today.

Start Preparing for New Overtime Rules Slated for 2020

Start Preparing for New Overtime Rules Slated for 2020

For the first time since 2004, it looks like there will be a salary level increase that triggers overtime pay.

In March, the U.S. Department of Labor released a Notice of Proposed Rule Making to revise overtime regulations. The proposal is open to comments over the next couple of months. Comments for the Notice of Proposed Rule Making can be made at

The proposed changes could impact 1.1 million current exempt employees nationwide.

While the Final Rule won’t be published until late in 2019, anticipated changes to the overtime levels will go into effect in 2020. Small businesses should start preparing for changes to their payroll.

What are the Proposed Salary Levels Changes for Overtime Pay?

Currently, employees with a salary below $455 per week ($23,660 annually) must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. Under the proposed changes, the salary level increases to $679 per week or $35,308 per year.

Are Highly Compensated Employees Impacted By the Proposal?

Highly Compensated Employees’ salary threshold increases from $100,000 to $147,414 per year.

Does Overtime Protections Change for all Employees?

According to the Department of Labor, the proposal does not change overtime protections for:

  • Police Officers
  • Fire Fighters
  • Paramedics
  • Nurses
  • Laborers including non-management production-line employees
  • Non-management employees in maintenance, construction and similar occupations such as carpenters, electricians, mechanics, plumbers, iron workers, craftsmen, operating engineers, longshoremen, and other construction workers

Can Bonuses Satisfy the Salary Levels?

The proposal will allow businesses to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments/commissions paid annually to satisfy up to 10% of the salary level.

Are There Exemptions from Overtime with this Proposal?

There are a few exemptions under the proposal. Employees must:

  • Be paid a predetermined and fixed salary not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed
  • Be paid at least $679 per week
  • Perform primarily executive, administrative, or professional duties

How Will Employers Be Impacted?

Many small businesses, particularly in the retail and hospitality industry, work hard to manage their exempt and nonexempt payroll budget with an eye on overtime thresholds.

The proposed changes could significantly impact small business budgets.

Small businesses may have to consider increasing impacted employee salaries to at least $679 to avoid paying overtime. Budget constraints may force some businesses to downsize to comply with the proposed changes.

Too Busy to Keep Up with Your Bookkeeping? Delegate Your Tasks

We understand how keeping up with changes to regulations like those proposed above can challenge busy managers and business owners. We’d love to help you with many of your time-consuming business tasks: bookkeeping, administrative, and marketing. Feel free to give us a call at (904) 429-4588 and let’s see how we can help your business.

How to Get Facebook to Show Your Webpage the Way You Want

How to Get Facebook to Show Your Webpage the Way You Want

Your website is the hub of your online brand presence. Google, Facebook, and other online media will pull information from your site to present information to their audience.

When developing your website and webpages, you have an opportunity to recommend how you want these online companies to present your business.

For Google, you can provide title tags and meta descriptions on your webpage that the search engine will pull and show on their search results. Many small businesses already provide meta information on their site.

However, many neglect to provide Facebook and other social media with the information they need to present your website the way you’d like.

How Facebook Shares a Webpage That’s Not Optimized

A number of years ago, Facebook developed Open Graph Protocol that extracts titles, images, URL and meta information from shared webpages. This is a wonderful way for you to control how your business is presented to the social media’s audience.

Let’s take a look at how Facebook presents an unoptimized webpage. We’ll share a Facebook screenshot of Business Solutions Unlimited home page before we’ve optimized the Open Graph content.

Unoptimized Business Solutions Unlimited homepage Facebook image showing partial BSU logo.

This home page image is how Facebook guessed what information to present on a page without Open Graph tags.

Not very appealing.  Facebook randomly pulled what they considered to be an appropriate image—BSU’s logo. Unfortunately, the logo is not optimized to fit Facebook’s image ratio. So the logo is cropped.

Additionally, Facebook pulled copy from the page that isn’t likely to generate an enthusiastic click.

This is a missed opportunity to present our Brand the way we would like.

How an Optimized Open Graph Tag Looks on Facebook 

Business Solutions Unlimited home page Facebook image featuring a business woman juggling tasks with caption Got Too Many Balls in the Air? Delegate Your Busy Work to Us: Admin, Bookkeeping, Marketing & More

We’ve provided content for Facebook to extract from our home page that represents how we’d like our brand to be portrayed.

We’ve provided a 1200px x 630px image similar to what the audience will find on our home page.

Additionally, we’ve provided a Facebook title that explains how we help small businesses.

By adding Open Graph information to our homepage, we’ve provided a better-looking image and stronger content to Facebook and other social media platforms.

While creating and providing Open Graph content to your webpages adds another task to your website development, it’s well worth it. Being able to control how your brand is presented online with better images and content can generate more shares, more clicks, and more business.

Is Managing Your Branded Social Media Website Shares More than You Can Manage? Reach Out for Help.

We’re here to help…from just this project to managing your social media, website and overall marketing strategy and tools. Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call today at (904) 429-4588 and let us get busy optimizing Open Graph and more for you.

Tax Return Red Flags that Could Trigger an IRS Audit

Tax Return Red Flags that Could Trigger an IRS Audit

Nearly1% of taxpayers got audited on their 2017 tax returns. Likely, the majority of those tax returns turned up a red flag that warranted a deeper look by the IRS.

That number might rise this year as many people are dealing with the changes spurred by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Since many of us are preparing tax returns before the April 15 deadline, we thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of the red flag items that could trigger an audit.

Making More than $200,000

Apparently, success can generate attention from the IRS. While about 1% of tax returns get audited, statistics show that the number increases to 4% for folks making $200k to $1million. If you’re a millionaire, that number rises to 12.5%.

Unreported Income

Don’t think hiding income can reduce your chances of an audit. The IRS has a robust system to look for discrepancies. They’ll compare your return with the information they received from W-2s, 1099-MISCs, 1099-Ks and other forms. Failing to report income can generate an automatic IRS letter.

Being Overly Charitable

With charitable donations being one of the few remaining deductions available to taxpayers, it’s also one that could be noticed by the IRS—especially if it’s above the norm for your income level. Don’t worry about being too generous to charities. If you have the documentation proving your donations, you’ll satisfy the IRS.

Not Reporting Early Withdrawals from Retirement Funds

Sometimes you may need to dip into your retirement funds before turning 59 and a half. The IRS charges a 10% penalty on withdrawals unless it’s for eligible scenarios like purchasing a home for the first time, education expenses and emergency medical costs. Surprisingly, 40% of taxpayers didn’t report the withdrawals. Remember, the IRS has a robust discrepancy system and will know about that withdrawal.

Running a Business

The IRS is especially sensitive for returns from small business owners. They look for owners who report substantial losses and businesses that are typically cash-intensive (taxis, car washes, bars, hair salons, restaurants, freelancers, etc.). They’ll also look closely at your deductions for personal vs. business expenses. For example, is your car strictly used for business? How about larger than norm traveling expenses? Were those actual business-related meals you deducted? Keeping your deductions well documented can be a big help during an audit.

Claiming Hobby Losses

If you have a weekend passion that costs a bit of money, it might be tempting to write off some of those expenses. That makes you a prime audit target for the IRS. Multiple years of losses can be a red flag. If you show profit generation for three of every five years, the IRS will consider you an actual business. Again, documentation can be a big help to you.

Running a Marijuana Business

As states start legalizing medical marijuana, businesses are popping up everywhere to cash in. However, on the federal level, deductions of controlled substances are disallowed. The IRS is keeping an eye on legal marijuana firms.

Lesson Learned: Stay Well Documented

If you’re well documented, generally you’ll have nothing to fear is you receive a letter from the IRS. Keep in mind, the IRS can audit tax returns from three years ago. So keep your files well organized and handy for a few years.

Too Busy? Delegate Your Tasks

As stated, recordkeeping is very important and while it could end up saving you in an audit it can be time-consuming. We can help! Delegate this and other business tasks such as bookkeeping, administrative, and marketing to us, a team of well trained, experienced professionals ready to put our skills to work for you. Give us a call at (904) 429-4588 and “You do what you do best; we’ll take care of the rest”.