A new business needs a new office

After months, or even years, of hard work, goal setting, sacrifice and investment, you have taken the next step and are now the owner/operator of your own business. While you have a good understanding of management practices and leadership, you may not have given much thought to setting up the essential hardware that will keep the operations running.

Below are some best practices for setting up your business office:

Workstations

Your primary workstation should be selected based on the primary function of your office. If you have full-time staff in your office, you will want to set them up with a desktop and multiple monitors for ease of use and productivity. The desktop will provide a cost-effective solution that should serve your office well for at least three years. Your mobile users will want to use a high-quality business laptop and have a workstation setup at the office where your full-size monitors, keyboard and mouse are located. The best setups use a small device called a port replicator that will have your non-portable devices plugged in and allows you to easily attach your laptop.

We recommend the Dell line of computers for laptops and desktops. The Dell OptiPlex 3000 series of systems are great solutions for the back office. Select a system with at least 4GB of memory, and for an extra punch of performance select a solid state hard drive (SSD). An SSD is an expensive upgrade, but we have found it greatly improves system performance and is worth the price increase. Select Microsoft Windows 10 for your operating system. Microsoft’s newest operating system is solid and will outperform Windows 7 and 8 when you pair it with good hardware.

For your laptop, plan to spend more than on an equivalent desktop. It is important to get a more robust laptop to guarantee the best user experience for many years to come. The upgrade options are limited, and therefore to maximize your investment, get the upgrades now. The Dell Inspiron 5000 series is a great business workstation with good performance options.

Software

By far the most common office productivity software is Microsoft Office. Consider using a service such as Office 365 to gain access to personalized email services with top-level spam and virus protection built in. Office 365 has many plans available, some of which include full versions of Office and centralized cloud-based file storage.

Select a high-quality antivirus software program and be sure to keep it updated. There are many protection products on the market and it is important to check the reviews of the software prior to selecting a product. In a recent product review, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus took top score along with Kaspersky Antivirus. We also use Malwarebytes to check for other forms of malware and spyware.

Once you have your system selected and setup you need to consider a backup solution that will keep your data backed up and will allow you to easily restore the information in the case of a system failure. Carbonite Pro offers a great solution for backup and recovery at a very reasonable price per year. Once the software is setup, it will constantly monitor your system for changed files, which will automatically backup to the cloud.

Printers

It’s important to select a quality printer that will always be ready to perform the duty at hand. If you are considering a mobile office, you should get a network-attached printer that will be available for printing when you are in your office space. A network-attached printer allows you to print without the need to plug it in physically to the computer. The printer can be always on and not dependent to a computer being powered on and available to share the printer. We typically use Hewlett Packard LaserJet Pro Series Printers. The HP LaserJet Pro M402dw is a great small office printer that has wireless network connectivity, which makes finding a good location for the printer in your office even easier.

Scanners

The Fujistu ScanSnap iX500 has long been a favorite for our clients’ back office scanning needs. It easily connects to a computer via USB and can handle the daily workload for a busy back office. The document feeder can hold up to 50 pages, which will save you time when scanning bundles of documents. In standard mode, this scanner will scan front and back at 25 ppm (pages per minute). You can also scan color documents or photos at 1200 dpi, which produces a great image that is very detailed and should suit your color scanning needs. This scanner has software that will allow it to run on PC and Mac computers. A feature that we especially like is the ability to scan directly to an iOS or Android mobile device.

With both printers and scanners, we recommend that you do not rely on multi-function machines (MFM) unless you invest in the enterprise versions of these devices. A purpose-built machine will most often outperform the consumer grade MFM in both reliability and ease of use.

If you have any questions about any hardware and software solutions, please feel free to contact the technology department at Sparkmon & Associates.

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Succession & Transition Strategies

Creating a successful succession plan is about protecting the future of a business and/or brand and ensuring there is a strategy in place to ensure your business continues to thrive.

After years of investing time, money and other resources, it’s imperative to prepare for this next stage in business and life. Poor planning can increase risks for stakeholders and tarnish legacies. Let’s make sure the next generation is well-equipped and ready to take your life’s work and family legacy to an even greater level of success.

Each situation is unique because the needs of each one involved are unique. We carefully review each opportunity to determine how best to structure a transition while meeting your goals, complying with any brand licensing polices and minimizing the tax implications of the transfer.

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Antares Group’s technology team provides convenient hardware and software support, along with comprehensive cloud accounting services with 24/7 access to up-to-date financial information exactly the way you want it, on any connected device, with a customizable dashboard interface. We use best-in class cloud accounting platforms and software including Sage Intacct, Bill.com and robot process automation (RPA) with integration capabilities with some of the leading point-of-sale, payroll, and business operations management software programs.

Cloud accounting is just the beginning; Antares Group’s experienced technology team also performs system evaluations and makes recommendations for products and services that will help your business run more efficiently, as well as protecting your information and infrastructure with robust security options. Using the right technology for automation will simplify your life and keep your valuable data safe..

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An accurate understanding of your company’s current value and financial viability is vital for achieving business success and the launch pad to boundless possibilities in the years to come. Realistic valuations are essential for long-term strategic plans, business successions and expansions, gift and estate planning, and a lucrative retirement package. Planning for where you want to go in the future is what our business and tax advisors do best. Whatever your goals, we are here to provide you with the right plan and insightful guidance to achieve it.

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Back Office Solutions

In such a fast-moving business environment, business owners need every advantage to succeed. Improving efficiency should be an ongoing part of your strategy for financial success, empowering you to make continuous improvements.

Whether your business is a single location seeking to grow effectively and sustainably, an established franchise brand adding new locations, or something in between, Antares Group provides a suite of back office services and the financial expertise to help business owners and managers achieve their operational and financial goals. In the process of supporting your essential back office operations with practical solutions, we analyze the function and effectiveness, looking for inefficiencies and potential liabilities, offering valuable insights for owners and managers.

  • Daily deposit verification and online banking monitoring
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Minimizing your tax burden is a year-round strategy; planning for and preparing complex business and individual tax returns is where Antares Group excels. Beyond simply helping you fulfill basic tax obligations, you can rely on our tax advisory team to keep you informed of ever-changing regulations and keep you in compliance. We conduct regular reviews to make sure all methods of reducing your tax liabilities are being used. We routinely assess your personal income tax situation and cash flow to guard against the unexpected. This ongoing strategic analysis empowers you to maximize tax savings and capitalize on new opportunities.

In addition, we provide advisory services for new business startups, acquisitions, and dispositions. Through careful analysis, we help clients determine the best structure and make the process as seamless as possible.

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Cloud Accounting

Whether you run a small closely held business or a large franchise operation, maintaining a firm grasp of accounting and bookkeeping can be challenging. Between managing staff and overseeing daily operations, there is not enough time to dig into the books and make sense of the financials. You need to know the facts and the implications. – having precise, up-to-date information at hand means you always know your financial position so you can make informed decisions that keep your business moving forward.

The financial experts at Antares can create a custom menu of accounting and tax services perfectly catered to your business needs, including accurate and timely financial statements and reports, so you are always prepared to respond quickly to changing and challenging circumstances. Along the way, we provide clear feedback and financial guidance to help you predict trends and recognize issues, then make the necessary adjustments to sustain cash flow throughout the year.

  • Timely preparation of financial statements based on your particular needs
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