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Five Tips to Make Tax Time Painless

Five Tips to Make Tax Time Painless

Tax time is probably not your favorite time of year, especially if you have to pay the government your hard-earned dollars. Here are five tips on how we can make it just a bit less painful.

1. Have patience.

Practicing patience will go a long way when you’re dealing with taxes. Keep in mind that for tax professionals, the months of January through April are as crowded and hectic as a shopping mall in December. Parking is scarce, the sales clerks are doing the best they can, and customers are all trying to shop for presents, party items, and decorations in a very compressed time period.

Be patient with yourself as well. You have the skills to manage your business and do well at your career, but it may not be at organizing paperwork or dealing with numbers. That’s where we can help.

2. The tax stack.

Set aside a permanent place on your desk to be the tax stack. When you receive something in the mail that is tax-related, place it in the tax stack. You’ll save valuable time later not having to look for documents you need.

Similarly, create a folder on your computer for tax items. Under Documents, create a folder called Taxes. Within that folder, create a folder for the tax year, such as 2017 for the year just ended. Move all of your tax-related computer documents into that file.

At your leisure, scan in or take a cell phone picture of the paper documents in the tax stack and place the digital file in the Tax folder. Now you’ll have everything in one place and you’ll be so organized that your tax accountant will be surprised!

3. Catch up.

If your books or records are behind for 2017, get them caught up now to beat the rush. If you wait until the first week of April, you’ll probably need to file an extension. Keep in mind that an extension only grants a paperwork extension; it doesn’t delay any tax payments that are due. If you wait too late, you’ll have the stress of waiting until the last minute, the stress of paying estimated taxes, and the stress of waiting until your return is finally filed.

4. Early bird.

Connect with us or your tax professional early to agree on what services will be offered and to get your documents turned in as soon as you receive them. Getting your things in early will mean less waiting time for preparation and filing. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to say that you’re done with your taxes in February? Your stress will be less, and your energy can be redirected to new projects.

5. Avoid a large tax payment.

The worst thing about tax time might just be writing a big check, possibly with penalties, to the government in April. Instead, plan ahead and spread out your payments for next year by adjusting your payroll withholding or making quarterly estimated tax payments. Spreading your tax payment throughout the year will have you writing a smaller check, if any, in April.

Try these five tips for tax time, and you’ll have more energy for other, more important things in your business.

If we can help with any questions, please contact us at any time.

Using QuickBooks Online’s Customer Records

Using QuickBooks Online’s Customer Records

Your customers are your company’s lifeblood. Are you managing those relationships carefully? Here’s how QuickBooks Online can help.

If you’ve been in business long enough to remember tracking your customers manually, you probably remember what a nightmare it was. Maybe you had a card file and paper folders – and lots of sticky notes and calendar notations.

Unless you had an unusually effective organization system, it was probably difficult to find historical transactions when customers called with questions, for example, and you may have experienced cash flow problems because it was hard to keep up with invoices and statements and payments.

If you’re already using QuickBooks Online, you know those days are over. But have you explored all the customer relationship management tools available to you on the site?

Thorough Records

The core of any good customer-tracking system is a comprehensive set of individual profiles. QuickBooks Online offers thorough, flexible record templates for just that purpose. Click Sales in the main toolbar, then the Customers tab at the top of the screen. To create a new customer record, click New Customer off to the right to open the Customer Information window.

Note: If you have your customer database in an existing Excel or .CSV file, you should be able to import it. QuickBooks Online provides instructions for this.

You can create a profile for each customer in the Customer Information window.

You’ll need to enter a lot of the information yourself here, mostly contact details. A down arrow next to a field indicates that there’s a drop-down list of options available.

The lower left quadrant of the screen contains a series of tabbed information windows. Click on each to enter what you can about each customer’s:

Address – both billing and shipping
Notes – any that you’d like to enter
Tax info – exemption details and default tax code (if taxable)
Payment and billing – preferred payment and delivery method, payment terms, and opening balance
Attachments – any files pertaining to this customer that you want to include

When you’re done, click Save. Your new record will appear in your list of customers. You’ll be able to toggle back and forth between the details you just entered and a list of their transactions.

Working with Customers

You can always add new customers as you go along, but it’s a good idea to enter records for all of them before you start creating transactions. It will save time down the road, and their accessibility will help with other accounting tasks.

When you click on Sales | Customers now, you’ll see something like this:

Your Customers page contains a list of customers with links to related activities. It also provides a color-coded row of bars that represent the status of invoices and estimates.

The Customers page consists of many elements. The main section displays a table of your customers. Click on one to open the page containing the Transaction List and Customer Details.

On this screen, though, you’ll only see columns for Customer/Company, Phone, Open Balance, and Action by default; click the gear icon in the upper right if you want to include more columns here. When you click on the down arrow next to a field in the Action column, a drop-down list will display the options available for that customer, like Receive payment, Send reminder, and Create Statement.

A series of colored bars runs across the top of the screen. Each represents the current status of a specific transaction type: Estimates, Unbilled Activity, Overdue, Open Invoices, and Paid Last 30 Days. Click on any of these to open a list of pertinent transactions.

You can do all of these activities elsewhere in QuickBooks Online, but it’s convenient to be able to work directly from the Customers screen, too. The fewer clicks, the better.

Call on Us

Did you make a resolution to start using QuickBooks Online this year? The site was built for use by business managers, not accountants, but it can still be a little daunting at first. We’re always available to take your questions and help you with setup and/or daily implementation.

If we can help with any questions, please contact us at any time.

Five Ways to Ring in 2018

Five Ways to Ring in 2018

Happy new year! January is the month of new beginnings and a perfect time to strategize about projects that will boost your business prosperity. Here are five ideas to get you thinking about new beginnings for your business in 2018.

1. Learn new technology.

Every year, tens of thousands of new online software applications are invented that will save us time and money. Learning at least one new app will keep us sharp and hopefully improve our business. There are many to choose from, and one way to narrow it down is to find one that will help you do your job better.

Look for an app that supports your administrative work, such as a new phone system, video conferencing, scheduling, cloud storage, shipping, document management, or data entry automation. Or you might have a need for apps in marketing and sales, such as social media, customer relationship managers, email list management, or web applications. If you’re not sure where to look, ask your friends what has saved them the most time.

2. Upgrade your accounting system.

If your accounting system is not updated to the current version, it may be time to perform the upgrade. Check with us for advice on the current version and any new features that you can benefit from.

3. Develop your 2018 prosperity plan.

The word “budget” has somewhat of a negative connotation, but a prosperity plan sounds like fun. They are the same, of course, and the idea is to determine what goals you want to reach so that you have a clear path to making your desired prosperity a reality.

4. Create a theme or mantra.

Want to stay more focused in 2018? A theme or mantra can remind you to stay on track with a particular project or goal. Brainstorm a phrase that will guide you in 2018. Here are some examples:

• Customer service excellence
• More me-time
• Enthusiastic, engaged employees
• Expanding digital presence
• Going green
• A prosperous new product line

5. Delegate something that isn’t getting done.

One way to feel amazingly rejuvenated and re-energized about your business is to give someone an item that’s been on your to-do list for far too long. It magically gets done right before your eyes!

We’re wishing you a most prosperous and happy new year.

If we can help with any questions, please contact us at any time.

How to Write Your Mission Statement

How to Write Your Mission Statement

Mission statements are not just for large corporations. As an owner of a small business, you can benefit from going through the exercise of writing your mission statement. It can not only re-connect you with your “why,” it can also communicate an important part of your business to all of your stakeholders.

What Is a Mission Statement?

A mission statement answers the question “What impact will you have on the world?” It’s your core purpose, your reason for being.

Here are a couple of mission statement examples from large companies you’ve probably heard of:

Harley-Davidson: We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.

Darden Restaurants: To nourish and delight everyone we serve.

FedEx will produce superior financial returns for shareowners by providing high value-added supply chain, transportation, business and related information services through focused operating companies. Customer requirements will be met in the highest quality manner appropriate to each market segment served. FedEx will strive to develop mutually rewarding relationships with its employees, partners and suppliers. Safety will be the first consideration in all operations. Corporate activities will be conducted to the highest ethical and professional standards.

Ford: We are a global family with a proud heritage passionately committed to providing personal mobility for people around the world.

Levi-Strauss: People love our clothes and trust our company. We will market the most appealing and widely worn casual clothing in the world. We will clothe the world.

At Microsoft, we work to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential. This is our mission. Everything we do reflects this mission and the values that make it possible.

NIKE: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.

The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.

A mission statement differs from a vision statement because a vision statement communicates what the company wants to be.

Ask yourself what your business’s core purpose is. What is the impact you want to have on the world? Once you know, you’ll be able to write your own mission statement.

Sharing Your Mission Statement

There are many ways you can share you mission statement.

• Make sure your employees know it.
• Display it in the About section of your website.
• Add it to your marketing material where appropriate.
• Use it when recruiting for new employees.
• If it’s short, use it on promotional items such as mugs and t-shirts.
• Frame it and hang it in your office.
• Mention it in speeches you give.

A mission statement is something to be proud of and something that should make people smile. Yours should motivate and energize you. Once you’ve written yours or if you already have one, be sure to share it with us.

If we can help with any questions, please contact us at any time.

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