Thursday, August 4, 2016

Technology Is Great...But Do You Use It Correctly?

Today's world is full of the latest and greatest computers, apps, software and technological gadgets.  All of which are great; however, as a business owner, investing in some of these items can be extremely costly.  Sometimes people look to items such as organizational apps or purchasing / inventory software to help solve productivity issues that naturally arise in a business setting.  The important questions to ask when evaluating what types of things you are going to invest in would be:

1.  What problem or task am I trying to improve?
2.  Am I using my existing software and tools to their maximum capacity?
3.  Does the problem or task I am trying to improve start with the user or the software?
4. Have I weighted the pros & cons of different options for my purchase to see which one best fits my needs?

All of these questions are pertinent to ensure that you make the correct choice when purchasing technological items.  Often times people get into situations where they buy items to organize their organizers!  If this is the case then you need to stop before purchasing another item and see if you can utilize existing items to get you back on track.  Many business owners find utilizing goal setting tools such as these apps described at  Some items such as computers and software can cost into the $1,000's or more depending on the amount you need to sustain your business. Make sure you do your evaluations and homework before purchasing to ensure you have made the best choice for your business!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Beat The Summer Heat & Stay Hydrated

Summertime means fun, sun and no school! Summertime also means rising temperatures, and certain areas such as Texas and the south bring a whole new meaning to the term “HOT.” During these hot summer days it is very easy to become dehydrated. Probably easier than you even realize. Dehydration can lead to many unpleasant health conditions, not to mention leaves you lethargic and often unproductive. Below are a few tips of how to properly stay hydrated and beat the summer heat!

Many people don’t realize that nutrients not only come in the form of foods but also in the form of water. In fact, water might be the most important nutrient of all. You can live quite sometime without food; however, only a few days without water.

Tips to stay hydrated & beat the summer heat:

  • Drink enough water to prevent thirst. If you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. Small, frequent sips of water throughout the day is the best way to prevent thirst. 
  • Monitor fluid loss by checking the color of your urine. It should be pale yellow not dark yellow, too smelly or cloudy. 
  • For short duration (less than 60 minutes) low-to-moderate-intensity activity, water is the choice to drink before, during and after exercise. 
  • Any time you exercise or have activities in extreme heat or for more than 1 hour, supplement water with a sports drink that contains electrolytes and 6% - 8% carbohydrates. This prevents “hypoatremia” (low blood sodium), which dilutes your blood and could also lead to serious impairment and even death via heat stroke. 
  • Begin exercise and activities well-hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids the day before and within the hour before, during and after your exercise or activity session. 
  • Avoid alcohol the day before or the day of a long exercise or activity bout in the heat. 
  • Eat copious amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables per day not only for optimum health, but they also contain various levels of water and the all-important component to avoid dehydration besides water - potassium. 
How much water should I drink on a daily basis? A good rule of thumb is a minimum of 1/2 your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs. you should be drinking a minimum of 75 ounces of water daily. Any exercise, activity, sun exposure. caffeine or alcohol intake will drastically increase this number to adequately stay hydrated.

While health is the #1 reason to stay hydrated, studies indicate well-hydrated individuals often have higher performance levels in exercise and everyday work and task environments. Can you think of a reason to NOT stay hydrated? urBook$ advocates for your best self promoting proper hydration! Contact urBook$ today to experience the urBook$ difference with your business bill-pay, bookkeeping and payroll.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

5 Business Tips For A Productive Summer

For some small businesses, the summer is the busiest time of year. For others, it’s the slow season. Regardless of what time of year it is for you, there are things all small business owners can do this summer to be proactive and productive.

And whether you’re taking advantage of the extra foot traffic in your store or a quiet space in time to reflect and think about your future goals, these tips can help you make the most out of the next few months. Tomorrow’s success really does start today, so it’s important that no matter what season you’re in, you are thinking ahead and getting ready.

Tip 1: Snap away

Take or collect fun pictures of your customers or members enjoying the summer weather. Then, share those pictures on your social networks during the cold days of winter to give them something to remember fondly of or look forward to. You’ll have fun doing it and create some great engagement with your loyal followers.

Tip 2: Discover something new

Take advantage of the potentially slower summer months and try out one of the ‘hot’ visual social media platforms like Instagram, Vine or Pinterest. Set a reasonable goal for yourself (i.e. upload 2 new photos a week) then, in September, decide if you want to continue to grow your presence on that channel.

You could also experiment with a new type of social media post. Consider trying a Facebook quiz/trivia question, a caption contest, an ‘if you could…’ question or feature a customer story.

Definitely change your Facebook cover photo to an image that reflects summer and your brand too!

Tip 3: Boost your website and deals

When adding an email sign-up to your website, be sure to have the “Join My Mailing List” feature at or near the top of each page of your website.

When offering a local deal, don’t discount too deeply and set a limit to the total number that could be bought.

Tip 4: Grow your list

Summer is a great time to grow your email list, especially if the summer months are the busiest of the year. Something as simple as a paper sign-up sheet can go a long way in helping you stay in touch with people after they visit your store, eat in your restaurant, or come into your office.

It’s also a great chance for you to personalize your sign-up experience a little more than you may have in the past. In addition to asking for their name and email address, you could also ask for their hometown to find out whether or not your new contacts are local or discovered your business while on vacation. You can use that information to better target your messages throughout the entire year.

Tip 5: Take advantage of Yelp

People rely on Yelp reviews and trust them just as they would a personal recommendation. This summer, take advantage of Yelp, especially if these next few months are busy.

Setup a Yelp page and then simply put a sign near your cash register that gives customers a discount if they write a Yelp review for your business on the spot. This is a great way to boost your visibility on Yelp in just a few short months.

Keep these 5 tips in mind this summer and you’ll reach new customers, continue to engage existing customers, and just have a little extra fun! Give yourself more time to focus on these tips by joining the urBook$ team, and allowing us to take on the task of electronic bill pay, payroll and bookkeeping.  These mundane tasks can take up an enormous amount of time giving you less time to make your business the best it can be!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Common F.A.Q.’s About HSA's

It is safe to say that the age of the small deductible low-cost healthcare insurance plans are long gone. With the rise in premiums many companies and individuals are moving towards offering high deductible health plans (HDHP) in order to reduce their premium costs. A popular “incentive” offers to individuals opting for the HDHP are the health saving’s accounts (HSA). A HSA is a tax-advantaged medical savings account available in the United States who are enrolled in a HDHP. The funds contributed to an account are not subject to federal income tax at the time of deposit. The concept is that if you have to pay more out-of-pocket medical expenses due to HDHP, the HSA account can offer an easier way to adjust to those costs.

With more and more Americans moving towards HDHP and HSA’s every year there have been several misconceptions and questions that often arise regarding the accounts.

1. What are the benefits of HSA’s?

HSA’s allow individuals to make contributions to the account tax-free. The contributions made into the account remain there until you or an authorized party makes distribution of the funds. Interest or earnings on the account are tax-free also. HSA’s are portable, meaning that even in you leave your HDHP or your employer, you can take the account and the funds in it with you.

2. Can I move my HSA to another financial institution?

The good news is yea, any contributions that you or your employer has made into an HSA belong to you. That means that you control where the funds reside, as long as it is with an institution that handles HSA funds. According tot he U.S. Treasury Department, you have the power to move your HSA dollars to another HSA provider that offers lower fees or better service if you wish. That includes moving it to the company where you have a brokerage or investment account, if that company manages HSA.

3. Do I lose my funds that are remaining at the end of the plan year?

The funds contributed to your HSA can rollover into the next plan year. Earnings on the account are not considered income with held in the HSA. However, all withdrawals from the account must be for qualified medical expenses only. Every plan has different regulations regarding this and your plan administrator should provide you with guidelines regarding your specific plan.

4. Is there a penalty for using HSA funds for non-qualified expenses?

Yes, there is an additional 20% tax not he part of any distributions not used for qualified medical expenses. You will also need to calculate your tax payment on specific forms with your federal tax return. So make sure you know what expenses are allowed to avoid this step tax penalty.

According to, your records must show:

a. the distributions were exclusively to pay or reimburse qualified medical expenses

b. the qualified medical expenses have not been previously paid by individual or the insurance company

c. the medical expenses had not been taken as an itemized deduction in any tax year.

It is recommended to make yourself fully aware of all regulations regarding your specific HSA account. As always, urBook$ wishes to provide you with information that eases your expense as a business owner and individual. Contact urBook$ today to begin experiencing the urBook$ difference with your bookkeeping, bill pay and payroll.

Friday, April 1, 2016

3 Easy Ways to Keep Your Small Business Buzzing

In today’s world everything is literally at our fingertips. Many people are use to getting their news, recommendations for things such as restaurants, shops and services all come in the form of 5 second snips. Gone are the days where people spend time researching in depth to find that perfect fit for whatever they are looking for.

So - how can you position your business to the the “5 second snip” which people are raving about online and to their circle of influence? Below are 3 simple tips to enhance this:

1. Never stop networking. While networking can seem to be most crucial in the infancy stages of a business, the long-term effects will provide profitable results the more the owner or manager is networking. Some examples of ways to network are:
  • Local Com,unity Organizations i.e. Chamber of Commerce 
  • Philanthropy opportunities for the business
  • Local School Booster Clubs
  • Like-minded business development groups 

2.  Use social media to your benefit. Never underestimate the power of social media. You have the opportunity to reach a large number of people with free advertising. Yes it takes someone taking time and staying on top of all your outlets; however, the benefits are limitless. You can offer special promotions for your social media followers, announce new products, and reward loyal customers. These are just a few ways to keep your business relevant to people through their social media platforms.

3. Never underestimate the power of hand-written notes. Receiving a hand-written note from a business you frequent will most likely be the icing on the cake for you to become a walking billboard for that business and to return to that business more frequently. You can challenge your team to pick one customer per week or per month and write a note to them of how they are special to you and your business.

urBook$ strives to provide it’s clients with content that will improve your business. Experience the urBook$ Difference today and begin your way to a hassle free life of bookkeeping, payroll and bill paying so you can focus on taking care of your clientele!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Tidy Business

Springtime if the perfect time to step back, reflect on your your business and tidy up a few areas. Just like your closet, kitchen pantry or garage - your business needs to be re-arranged, cleaned out and spruced up.

Have you ever stepped back and looked at your business through the eyes of someone who is seeing it for the first time? Sometimes you get use to walking through the same routines, overlooking the same messy shelves or files and don’t realize how “untidy” your business actually is. Take a step back and walk through your day from start to finish looking at things with fresh eyes. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are there items that can be cleaned out? 
  • Have you been stacking up things that you haven’t touched since you put them there? 
  • If you have a business that has consumers within your storefront - have you looked at the glass on your door? Are there fingerprints older than your business? 
  • Would you walk into your own store and purchase your product if it were not your business? 

Looking at things this way can often lead to decluttering your business and making you and your business more successful.

If this task seems overwhelming to you - it might be a good idea to ask for help and make a list of things that need to be addressed. Check them off one-by-one and before you know it you will have a fresh new outlook on your business.

Do you need assistance with your business bookkeeping, bill pay and payroll? urBook$ offers these services to clients in a timely organized fashion utilizing Smart Vault allowing you to access your up to date records at any time. Contact urBook$ today and begin the urBook$ experience to a spring cleaning for your business records! 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How love can impact your life - both personally & professionally!

The month of February always brings the topic of love to many peoples minds.  It is usually full of hearts, flowers and chocolate. The truth is - regardless of the emphasis February puts on Valentine’s Day and all that it encompasses research has shown that the emotion “love” can have many benefits to a person’s life and well-being.  Wether that be personally or professionally one can agree there is nothing wrong with improving either right? 

To understand the benefits love can bring to a person it is important to understand the definition of love. According to and
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment.  Love is also a virture representing all of human kindness, compassion and affection as well as the “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.” 
Love can also be described as actions towards others based on compassion, or as actions towards others based on affection. 
Although the technical definition of love brings a variety of meanings and interpretations, the health benefits of love are easy to identify and much more obvious.  

1. Love produces positive emotions.
        Love is known to bring about many positive emotions.  Laughter is on of the more prominent emotions that rises out of love.  Laughter is known to be healing to the soul and good for your mental well-being.  After all - laughter is the best medicine - right? 
It is a very powerful antidote to fight stress, conflict and pain both mentally and physically.  Love also has the power to heal and renew ones mental, emotional and physical well being.  Research shows that loving acts neutralize the kind of negative emotions that adversely affect immune, endocrine and cardiovascular function. 
I think everyone can agree these benefits can be seen as positive for both your personal and professional lives. 

2. Love helps your live longer and fight disease. 
Who doesn’t want to be healthier and live longer?  Many studies have shown that patients who are diagnosed with cancer have recovered from treatments faster when they had strong family connections.  Also, those in loving relationships recovered quicker or completely eliminated the cancer with no scientific explanation other than the fact that the patient had great love and support from close family and friends. 
The feeling of “butterflies in your stomach” is an actual physical reaction caused when our body responds to the strong attractions that is feel when one is “falling in love” or “in love” with someone else.  Physically, your heart rate increases which causes increased blood flow to all parts of your body.  This actually has been proven to have a positive effect on the mind and body. 

3. Love keeps the doctor away. 
Many studies prove that people in a loving, long-term relationship have longer average life spans than those that are not in a partnership.  Typically, when you’re in a relationship, your partner cares about your health.  Therefore, he or she will encourage you to watch you health and discourage bad habits.  
“Endorphins are the key,” according to the National Institute of Health.  Love triggers the hormone oxytocin which makes us feel good. It also lowers the levels of stress chemicals in our system. 

Even with these 3 brief explanations of why love is important to everyone, hopefully you have a better understanding of the long-lasting benefits love can bring into a persons life.  Whether you are a small business owner, or an employee of a large corporation, having love in your life can benefit you at work as well as at home. Fewer sick days, happier moods and energy all bring about positive outcomes in day-to-day interactions.  

urBook$ advocates for the health and well-being of all clients and professional relationships.  It is our goal to provide you with professional services such as bill pay, payroll and bookkeeping allowing you to focus on your passion and "love" for your business. Contact urBook$ today to become a client and experience the urBook$ difference. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Power of Customer Service in Business

The majority of businesses involve customer service on some level.  Whether you are directly selling a product to the consumer or dealing with vendor and suppliers to provide a product to a retailer you are involved in customer service.

As a business owner the words of a "dissatisfied customer" are like a knife in the back.  Research has shown how positive and negative customer service feedback is handled directly impacts your bottom line in business.

According to

  • 1st Impressions last - Surveyed respondents were more likely to recall negative experiences vs. positive ones. 
  • Bad reviews & experiences travel faster than positive ones - People who experienced a negative experience shared their story with 5+ people on avg. compared to 1 -2 people for a positive experience. 
  • Social media reviews impact online shopping - 88% of consumers in a study reported they added an item to their cart based on a customer service review. 
  • Happy customer lead to larger sales - Consumers who had a positive experience had larger shopping carts than consumers with negative experiences. 
As you can see consumers "drive" business in many ways.  It is always in your best interest as a business owner to strive for positive customer service at all times.  There are many factors that can improve your chances at positive customer service.  Research has shown that employers who treat their employees well have a higher positive customer service rate.   Businesses who responded swiftly to negative feedback were able to salvage the relationship more often than not prior to the consumer spreading negative feedback to other consumers. 

Considering the impact customer service has on your bottom line, you cannot afford to allow poor customer service within your business.  Always monitor online reviews and quickly respond to both the positive and negative.  It also never hurts to ask your customers for online feedback - simply tell them "Your review and referrals are our biggest compliment."  You might just be amazed at how it can impact your business.  

urBook$ strives to provide our clients with the best chance at success.  Equipping your business with up to date information regarding your business pay roll, bookkeeping and bill paying is only part of the equation.  Contact urBook$ today to experience the urBook$ difference and allow yourself to concentrate on things that impact your bottom line such as great customer service! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

How to Set Achievable Goals for 2016

Top-level athletes, successful business-people and achievers in all fields set goals.  Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation.  It focuses your acquisition of knowledge, and helps you to organize your time and your resources so that you can make the most of your life. 

By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in the achievement of those goals.  You will also see forward progress in what might previously have seemed a long pointless grind. This will raise our self-confidence as you recognize your own ability and competence in achieving the goals you have set! 

Here are a few tips of how to begin setting your achievable goals for 2016:

1. Create the “big picture” of your goals. These are big 10 year goals that you would like to achieve. Examples of these areas could be:
  • Career 
  • Health 
  • Financial 
  • Spiritual 
  • Educational 
  • Public Service 
2. Break-down these goals into smaller and smaller targets that you must hit in order to reach your lifetime goals. Breaking down your long-term goals into shorter achievable goals will ensure that you allow yourself to not only see progress but actually achieve the 10 year goal.

For example, if you choose to save a certain amount of money over the next 10 years. You need to break this down into monthly or quarterly savings amounts over the next 10 years. Seeing your savings account increase each month or quarter will let you realize your progress with each deposit.

3. Set systems in place to remind yourself when and where you are to act on your goals. If you have weekly weight-loss goals or exercise goals then set calendar entries or physically write down your work-outs for each week. Putting your goals to pen or electronic calendar entry will increase your chances of actually completing the tasks.

urBook$ wishes you and all of your team a successful & productive 2016!