Maintaining your books not only saves you a headache with the tax man and money on taxes it can also ward off any issues that may arise legally over commingling your funds. Here are five significant reasons for maintaining a separate set of books for each of your businesses:
The next step is implementing a system for tracking income and expenses. Here are just a few things that good accounting software can do to help you become a better, smarter business owner:
Be honest with yourself: Do you want to do the bookkeeping for your business? If so, great. But if not, who’s going to do it? Have a plan! The following are five options to consider.
Option 1: Learn the accounting software and input items yourself. I know this strikes fear in some of your hearts. In fact, this may be why your books currently aren’t getting done. But you still may want to hold off delegating any part of the process until you put in a few hours a week to learn the basics, like inputting figures. At the bare minimum, you need to be able to view and print reports and check the accuracy of the work.
Option 2: Hire a family member to keep up the books. This is a great way to have the teenagers or young adults you’re supporting financially earn their keep and teach them about entrepreneurship in the process. They’ll learn about the heart and soul of small business by doing the books. Adding them to the payroll is also a great tax write-off.
Option 3: Engage a local bookkeeper. This could be a local college student wanting internship/externship hours or a seasoned bookkeeper with affordable rates. It can free up your time so you can do what you know best: Make money for the business. This is also a natural step in the growth of a business before choosing the next option. Remember, this person will probably not prepare your taxes or do significant planning for you; they’ll simply maintain your books affordably so you can focus on more pressing tasks.
Option 4: Hire someone “in house.” You’d be amazed how quickly you can find a local college student or bookkeeper wanting to pick up some part- or full-time work for an hourly wage. This person could come in daily or a few days each week to input data and print reports. You might need to provide some supervision, or you could have your outside CPA train and supervise your in-house bookkeeper. It can be extremely convenient to have an employee available to keep things in order. You can also hire someone who can wear different hats and help with other tasks, like answering phones, scanning, doing collections, shipping, or running errands.
Option 5: Use your CPA or tax professional throughout the year. Many business owners like the comfort and security of knowing they not only have highly skilled accountants doing their books daily but the benefit of one-stop shopping for tax planning and quarterly and annual reports as well. It may seem more expensive, but the value of better long-term planning and a higher quality of books can far exceed the cost. More mature and seasoned business owners may naturally “graduate” to a more experienced bookkeeper when the time is right. At most firms, you can get an accounting support package tailored to your budget and needs.