Sometimes you just need a drink, Liquid Courage

We are pleased to announce Liquid Courage – Bookkeeping help for Creative Professionals

Overcome your approach anxiety of accounting for your growing creative business.  Join us each Thursday afternoon at The Brewery for a peer support group of business owners overcoming their dread of accounting.

Bring your shoe-box (or garbage bag) filled with receipts, and your laptop (or accounting system of choice).   I will guide you through getting started and getting a grip on the bookkeeping process of your business.

At the end of the session, (or even during) complimentary Gin and Tonics are served.  Sometimes you just need a drink to get through the accounting process.

Thursdays 3-6pm  660 South 21st Ave, Unit 6, Los Angeles, CA

For more information contact me:  jackie@yourbackoffice.ca

Your Back Office, Accounting and Consulting firm, we are the left brain to your creative right brain.

http://www.yourbackoffice.ca

Sometimes you just need a drink, Liquid Courage

Sales Tax – Why do I have to keep track of it?

Every quarter I file sales tax returns for my clients and let them know what the payment should be.

Then my clients will comment on the amount and complain that they have to make a payment.    What they forget is that they, as the business owner don’t pay the sales tax.  Their customers pay the sales tax when the item is purchased.  The business owner acts as the collection agent.

This gets me thinking…Why should the business owner be a collection agent for the state?  There are costs involved in keeping track of the sales tax.   Certainly with all of the technology there can be a better way to handle this.

Since the majority of customer use credit/debit cards, the processor could record, collect, route funds and report.

Just a thought…Let me know what you think.

 

Your Back Office is your partner accounting firm for developing an established creative service firm, whether in graphic design, advertising or design for the web.    www.yourbackoffice.ca

 

Sales Tax – Why do I have to keep track of it?

5 Steps to a tax return

It’s that time of year again but I’m not talking about the holidays. I’m talking about tax season. 

I know, who wants to think about that. Besides taxes aren’t due until April. Here are my tips that I share with my accounting clients around La Canada, Glendale, and Pasadena.

You only have till December if you want to do any tax planning, and for those who don’t need tax planning, you’ll be surprised how fast April rolls around when you’re busy running a small business.

Here are some steps to get you started to file a tax return efficiently.

If your financial records are stuffed in a shoebox (the pile of denial), start going through it and identify the following:

Cash transactions – these are items purchased with cash. Cash receipts are the only proof you have of the expense your business incurred. Separate them out and put them in similar categories, such as parking, fuel, and office supplies. Total each category.

Credit Card Transaction – collect all of your statements for the year. You will need to categorize each transaction by expense, same idea as the cash receipts. Total each category.

Bank Account Transactions – Collect bank statements the way you did the credit card records. Review the bank statements then categorize checks and debit transactions and get a total for the categories. Also, go through and categorize deposits that are income vs loans.

Business transactions paid by personal accounts. Sometimes, we forget the business credit/debit card and use our personal cards. Go through your personal credit card and bank statements and categorize the business transactions, and then total those up by category.

At this point an excel spreadsheet can be helpful. You can get a list of the categories you’ve created and enter the figures to come up with the grand totals.

To make it even easier, I’ll send you for free the template I use when you sign up for the blog or contact me through email.

 

 

 

 

5 Steps to a tax return

Your genuine business niche and profitability

Running a business well within a genuine niche leads to business profitability. Recently, CBS News Money Watch posted a well-written article online about finding a business niche and sticking with it.

My business niche as an accountant/bookkeeper is working primarily with web design companies, advertising agencies, and similar creative companies that have revenue of $ 3,000,000 per year or less. It doesn’t mean I won’t handle the finances of other companies in fields like manufacturing, but it does mean I know the specific challenges facing these type of clients and I can speak their language. Can other bookkeepers or accountants serve my clientele? Yes, they can. It’s not so narrow a niche where I won’t have competition, but it gives me a profitable focus for building my business.

A niche is a way to distinguish your business from the massive competition that exist in urban areas like the greater Los Angeles region or even online.

Here’s another example of a niche. There’s a manufacturing company in the U.S. that builds firefighting equipment to export to developing countries where the roads and villages can only accommodate small firefighting trucks.

The article points out that enduring small businesses serving niches are often “highly-specialized manufacturers feeding larger industries, companies serving narrow markets, or tech companies doing things that are difficult or impossible to duplicate. Great wealth has been built this way, and if your goal is to have a healthy, enduring small business, you’ll probably find your best opportunities in the niches.”

And lastly, my husband is launching a company in Los Angeles that provides high quality display cases for museums. He’ll distribute the cases which are manufactured in Germany.

Consider your business model. Do you have a niche or can you easily create one in order to define your business and what you offer to customers?

For the complete story by Michael Hess on CBS Money Watch click here. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505143_162-57325050/the-biggest-small-business-rule-i-wish-id-followed/?tag=nl.e857

 

Your genuine business niche and profitability

Setting Customer Expectations

I do the accounting and bookkeeping for creative companies around Pasadena, California like web designers and small advertising agencies.

The profit challenge facing these companies is to stay focused on projects to prevent wasted time just like a company handling products doesn’t want wasted inventory.

Setting client expectations is one of the first steps in running a profitable creative service company.

Here are questions you can ask yourself:

Are new clients positively aware of your reputation? If so, you have credibility when sitting with them to formulate a creative brief.

Did you clearly show them your design style or other style to ensure a fit with their brand?

Did you interview them well on their needs and did you repeat back to them their reason for coming to you?

Do you have a brief outline of the work stages like draft, revisions, completion and have them sign off on each stage? This makes having a change order easier.

While clients can get finicky about the outcome, setting expectations is one way to maintain the best client-vendor relationship possible.

Setting Customer Expectations

5 basic tips for organizing your office

An organized office is a profitable office. Filing and organizing reduces wasted time hunting for essential tools and wasted time equals wasted money.

Organizing an office requires self-discipline, a vision for categorizing information specific items, and the courage to throw away pieces of paper or magazines that aren’t going to be read anymore or haven’t been read in months.

Here are some tips:

#1 The files accessed most frequently should be the ones closest to the desktop and given priority on being kept up to date.

#2 Toss out excess information. Make it easier by reminding yourself that most magazine articles or newsletter articles you might want to keep are found online or in the library. A really good article that sits buried under piles of paper may be well written and contain useful information, but how much good is it doing you?

#3 Set aside one hour per week to read outside of normal work assignments. Skim through articles and either file them right away or toss them.

#4 Ask for help – this may be difficult to ask a colleague. For the home office, the cost of hiring some one to come in help may be an expense that pays off in the long run.

#5 Archive old files and projects. Put them in a box, label them and take them out of an active file drawer.

While there may be many other tips for a productive office, these five are basic and easy to follow on a regular basis.

To stay on top of clutter, consider having a professional organizer stop in the office on a once-a-month basis to help you run your business more smoothly and profitably.

Learn more at the National Association of Professional Organizers. http://www.napo.net

5 basic tips for organizing your office

Update on my Xero Accounting software transition from QuickBooks

I am a certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor and have been using QuickBooks Accounting Software for at least 7 years.    I have recently switched over to Xero Accounting System.  It is a cloud product based out of New Zealand.   I have been using this product for a few months and so far so good.   I am really liking it.

So what make this so great you ask, well, it works for my business because:

1)  I can access my information from my iPhone, (they have a nice app).

2)  Plays well with others, I use Workflowmax and the inegration between the two is nice and simple.   Plays well with Freshbooks as well, and the list gets longer.

3) Bank Feeds and import of bank transactions.   I have a Paypal feed which once I set up I don’t have to do a damn thing to it, information comes in.    You can import a .csv file easily from your bank.

4) Finally a decent cash flow report that I don’t have to manipulate.   The cashflow report in QuickBooks wasn’t my favorite, it took some work.  In Xero I ran the report and there it was.

5) Customer Service is great.   I asked a question, I got an answer the next day.   Usually when I go to QuickBooks tech support, they are trying to upsell me, or I know more about the software that the person reading from the script.

6) QuickBooks was trying to be all things to all businesses it got a little cluttered.   Xero sticks to the basics, clean and simple.

There is still some more work to do, like adding more US Bank Feeds to their roster and a small Paypal issue that they are working on.   Currently you cannot print checks out of the system, but I understand that it will soon.

It isn’t a solution for every business, but if you are a service provider/mobile warrior you should give it some consideration.

Update on my Xero Accounting software transition from QuickBooks