The Accountingprose Blog

Happy Trails… Thoughts on XPAC

Just a few years ago I got a call asking me to join XPAC (The Xero Partner Advisory Council). My first thought was… “What the heck is XPAC?”… Boy was I happy when I realized that XPAC is filled with the greatest accountants and industry leaders around. Seriously.

Here’s the scoop… Twice a year Xero gathers 12 or so accountants and boatload of Xero staff to chat about the important stuff- product development, customer service, industry changes, marketing/branding- the works. We dig into the big challenges and collectively work to make a better future for accountants and for Xero. It is so cool to see the wheels turning in the minds of both Xero and the accountants they call upon- it is pure magic. In the space of just a few days I get to share my experience, but more importantly, I get to learn from others and grow as a businessperson.

I am in awe when I hear about all of the great things these “Accountants of the Future” are doing. Some have a large client base spreading over many industries, while others are super focused on serving their perfect client. I’ve learned about why it is important to niche, how to say no (I’m terrible at it!), and new ways to bring more value to the table. I’ve spoken up for not only myself but all of the accountants in my network, giving them a voice and sharing their struggles. In speaking up, I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable and have shared not only my best practices but my biggest blunders. I’ve learned the power of networking, that building at tribe is imperative, and to look at “competition” in a different light. Since being a part of this amazing group, I have fully realized that while competition is how some businesses are built, coop-etition is the way to thrive. What the heck is coop-etition? It is working with your peers, fully knowing they are going to use your best practices in their businesses and you will use theirs in yours. Why? When you create an environment where nothing is proprietary, everyone gets better. Also, when you are armed with the knowledge that there isn’t a finite amount of success going around, you create abundance for all. This new, open way of doing business lifts everyone up and makes every day a lot more fun!

Thank you Xero and thank you XPAC for allowing me to serve on such an awesome board. I’ve learned a ton, made some great friends, and am better person for it.

January Xero Hour: Making Tax Season Great Again

Last night I hosted Xero hour at Xero Denver HQ. In a word, it was tremendous. I saw lots of new faces which excites me because that means more people are interested in changing how they work. I remember when tax season used to make me question why I am an accountant. Long hours (followed by more long hours) left me a shell of a human by 1/31. We have to close the books, send 1099s, W2s, and meet up with our CPA partners who need to grok what happened during the year. I literally worked from sun up to sun down. I remember stopping briefly to grab my son from school who survived on food delivered to us during this treacherous time. I’m glad he saw me work hard, because I think it instilled a strong work ethic in him. However, I think I would rather him see me work smart vs hard.

In 2014, Justin Hobbs and Xero changed tax season and, dare I say, my life forever. One of the biggest pain points I had in working with my clients was getting questions answered, producing financial statements on time, and producing 1099s at the beginning of each year by the rigid IRS deadline. With Quickbooks (shudder) I had no way to collaborate with my clients. Getting Suspense/Ask My Accountant (a holding account for transactions in question) cleared out took forever. Once we got the financials nice and spiffy, we had to struggle to get the 1099s produced and sent out on time. I remember one year I spent all day printing 1099s, stuffing and adding postage to the envelopes and driving to the post office. I think if I could lay out exactly what my hell would look like, it would be suffering through painfully slow internet, drinking lukewarm gas station coffee, and/or manually printing/posting 1099s for my clients. Now all I have to do is connect Xero with Track1099 and what used to take me all day, just takes a few hours. This means we can move on from the necessary, but sooooo boring, task of issuing these reports and get back to the real work.

One of the main points we hit last night was to decide to make your own path. Do you want to be that accountant who works (overly) hard like the rest of your colleagues or do you want to forge your own path and have fun while you are doing it? I’m glad that Justin gave me a call (again and again and again) because if he hadn’t I would still be working every second of the day in January (or maybe Jan-Apr). I may have already burned out already, or at least I wouldn’t love my work as much. Seriously, one seemingly small change- moving from QB to Xero- has given me more freedom than I thought was possible. Yes, I still work long days during tax season but not nearly as long as some of my competitors. I also don’t have to struggle with broken software and my clients are actually more eager to collaborate because it is so easy.

So, if you want to make a change with your accounting practice, maybe its time to look and see what else it out there. Give Justin, or any other Xero, a shout. Also, I would love it if you would join me at the next Xero Hour. I look forward hosting them every month, because I get to connect with awesome people who get it. Here is a link that will get you connected to Xero Hour- and feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about what we discussed or want to continue to the conversation.

Xero Hour – Denver

Denver, CO
94 Xero Heroes

Xero Hour Meetups mix light appetizers, power networking … and the chance to join other Xero-minded professionals. At #XeroHour, local accounting partners share best practices…

Check out this Meetup Group →

 

 

Xerocon 2016

I have just returned from Xerocon, an annual gathering of accounting nerds, held in beautiful San Francisco. I am always so excited to hang out with people who are stoked to sit and chat over coffee and dish about what is working/not working in their practice and what is on the horizon. Day One literally started off with a bang as Russ Fujiyoka, President of Xero US, shot swag into a crowd of over caffeinated accountants. Gladly, everyone remained safe as the tshirt gun hurled really cool Xero shirts into the audience. 🙂 Rod then hopped on stage and blew our minds. He demonstrated some of the neat ways that Xero is changing the industry by incorporating things like artificial intelligence and machine learning into their software. The Xero dev team has been tirelessly moving their software onto Amazon Web Services (AWS) so that they can really put the pedal to the metal. As Xero sprints toward 1mm+ users on their platform, it is absolutely essential to upgrade their infrastructure and they are smart to do this now as growth doesn’t seem to be slowing down one bit.  I am very excited for the robots to take over, as that means that the mundane can be automated. This means we can spend all of our time working directly with clients on things like planning and forecasting which make the biggest impact on their bottom line. Really, why do we need to reconcile recurring bank transactions when we can be dreaming of a better future with our clients?

Day One was also exciting because I got to moderate a panel with Hubdoc, Bill.com, and Crunchboards– likely the best add-ons a nerdy accountant can dream of. I was a bit nervous to get on stage and chat these pros up, but since we provide this stack to each and every client, it ended up being a really easy and fun talk. I guided the conversation by introducing each of these partners in a particular order. We start the document gathering process with Hubdoc- their software fetches statements and bills and our clients can use their handy dandy smart phone app to snap pics of receipts, on the fly. This data then gets pushed into Bill.com, the next partner on the panel. We went through how data flows between each software and how we do cool things like create approval workflows and send payments to vendors with just a few clicks of a button. Finally, we introduced Crunchboards, a financial dashboard that visualizes our clients’ data and helps them to better run their business- no matter what industry they are in. Once the talk was over, we fielded a lot of really great questions from the audience, which I think was the best part. Usually when I sit in on a talk, I want to get down to brass tacks and find out how I can apply what I am learning in my practice. The audience members peppered us with questions and we almost went over time because the conversation was so fun.

Day Two was also a blast but didn’t start at Pier 27, where Xerocon was held. I actually dropped into the Gusto office for a partner breakfast where I got to hang out with accountants who rock Xero and the Gusto Dev and Marketing team. We learned about their new partner program, their revised on-boarding process, and how they are about to blow the roof off of the industry by offering health benefits through their platform. I must say, they are doing incredible things at Gusto and I am glad that they are our partner in payroll. After noshing on some delicious snacks, I headed back over to Xerocon and hopped on stage once again; this time chatting about how to hire and keep accounting unicorns. I love talking about finding and keeping talented people, because I have such an amazing staff that keep me sane and our clients happy. It wasn’t easy to do this though- I really messed up hiring when I first started the practice. I often hired quickly, because we had to fill an immediate need, which was often a recipe for disaster. I have worked with my Operations Manager, Kienan, to revise this process and we are reaping the rewards. Some of the high points of the talk included what our interview process looks like (very exhaustive!), what we are looking for in a candidate (passion!), how we onboard them, and how we keep them happy. I only had 15 minutes for my talk, but really I could have discussed what we do for hours. Seriously, I love thinking about stuff like this.

My mind is buzzing with excitement as I let all of things I learned and shared at Xerocon soak in. I am excited to attend the event next year and hope you will join me. For now, take a gander at a few pictures I snapped during my time in San Francisco.

Cheers-

Tina

 

Reblog: Adapting Agile Project Management to Your Accounting Firm

Special thanks to Going Concern for publishing my article on how to adapt agile to your firm

http://goingconcern.com/post/adapting-agile-project-management-your-accounting-firm


One of the most difficult problems to solve in client services is how to scope and estimate work properly so that everyone wins. I have to be realistic with our capacity, my team’s skillset, and their time – three things that are difficult to balance. Our client needs to feel like they are part of the process and we need to deliver value frequently, in a way that makes sense to them.

Feeling lost

In the past we haven’t done a great job of conveying value right off the bat and completing projects in a timely fashion has been difficult. We shifted focus frequently, picked files up only to put them down and in the end, annoyed our clients when we weren’t done by their arbitrary deadline.

As a firm owner, I felt like we could be doing better work. It started to become more important to tackle this issue as we started to get busier because the more projects we took on, the harder my life was becoming. I was the main contact on the file, not my super radical accountants, and I felt like I was constantly letting everyone down. Really, it was a product of my own failure, not my team. So, I turned to my super nerdy programmer friends and asked them what they were doing; it seemed like a solved problem and I was too dense to connect the dots.

From Ambiguous to Agile Project Management

I was introduced to Agile Project Management, which completely changed the way that I work with our clients. In the past my style could maybe be defined as Ambiguous Project Management, where things just sort of happened in tandem with no immediate measureable result. Of course people were feeling let down, I threw projects at the wall and hoped that they stuck. I am embarrassed that as much as I am enamored by process development and measuring results, after six years in business this is how my project management style ended up.

I dialed in our projects by realizing that the project begins before the client says yes. We start our relationship by having a detailed discussion about what the client needs. Sometimes you will find that what the client thinks they need versus what they actually need are at odds.  I ask a ton of questions, listen and take notes. At the end of the conversation I tell the client what I think we heard and distill their needs by setting short and long term goals. If we agree that we understand what the project scope will be, I develop a proposal that hashes out exactly what we will do and for what price. Our pricing is transparent — we will do X for Y. If anything we do is outside of that scope, they know what the cost is and we let them know when we plan to go out of scope. I hate when people try to bait and switch me, and we do our very best to stick to the original plan, but know that shit happens and sometimes that shit needs to be addressed.

It’s all about having the right tools (and team)

Next we build a project in Accelo, our project management tool, and provide as much detail as possible so that anyone picking this project up can feel informed. This step in the process has always been kind of messy for me and I realized that the reason it was messy was because my notes from the initial client consultation kind of sucked. I created a template in Formstack and let the client know on the call that even though it seems like my questions are robotic or formulaic, it is for a reason. I want to be sure that nothing is missed and no surprises happen down the line. They appreciate the detail, and if they aren’t willing to spend one hour helping me understand their situation, then they are probably not an ideal client for us. It’s ok, we won’t be a match for everyone who hollers at us.

After developing the project in Accelo, I meet with staff and provide details on what the project entails. We go through the ins and outs of the projects and address any of their concerns. We also set a time for the staff member to meet with the client, so that I am no longer the bottleneck. The client gets to see our staff and learns a bit more about who is on their team. I emphasize the word team, because we see what we are doing as a team sport. It is isn’t me, my staff, or my client who is successful in this venture– we all are.

Finally, we give clients access to our company portal where they can see the project scope, when we expect to be done, and how far along we are in the process. In the past, this level of transparency would have made me feel uncomfortable, but Agile forces you a bit out of your comfort zone. You realize when you or your team isn’t performing and you end up dealing with it sooner, which isn’t always fun. I realize that software companies using Agile are delivering a different result — working software. However, we both ship value which can be flexible and can adapt to your industry.

Staying Agile

In the past, the project might have consisted of a mile-long task list that didn’t identify goals or milestones living in my brain. In Agile, we break down a complex project into short sprints (also called iterations) where we define what needs to be accomplished and what the result will look like. There are main roles in Agile — Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Team Members.  The client acts as the Product Owner, helping to set goals and adapt the project as needs change. We have adapted the role of Scrum Master to fit our Operations Manager who guides the team, helps to prioritize the tasks and remove speed bumps so we can quickly create value. Team Members are equivalent to our staff who manage checking tasks off the list, report progress to the client, and verify that the work produced is of the highest quality.

Agile Project Management is useful and this “Agile Lite” version can easily be adapted to your practice. Once you feel confident in delivering value, spend some time reading and learning about other parts of Agile Management including measuring team velocity, creating a master story list, analysis, testing, team collaboration, and all of the other fun stuff that is further down the rabbit hole. Start small, grow your knowledge, impress clients, and then take over the world. It’s pretty simple.

Reblog: How Accounting Firms Can Stay Relevant

As seen on Going Concern: http://goingconcern.com/post/how-small-accounting-firms-can-stay-relevant

Ed. note: We’re pleased to welcome Cristina Garza, Owner and Chief Number Cruncher ofAccountingprose, as a contributor to Going Concern.

As a firm owner my biggest fear is getting left behind. Well, that and running into the three worst days a business owner will face.

I’m speculating that existing firm owners appear to be at the forefront of change because they have a good web presence, use a cloud based accounting software, and employ SaaS applications in their workflow. New firm owners quickly fall into rank, following in the steps of their predecessors but do little else to push ahead.

In reality, using a cloud accounting platform and hooking up a few add-ons isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a fantastic start but as an owner of a non-traditional firm with big dreams, I have to create an environment that is ripe with innovation or we will sink to the bottom of the heap. Once at the bottom, it is hard to get back to the surface.
 
So, what are we doing to make sure that we aren’t left behind, while our colleagues gallop past us?

Incentivize staff to contribute ideas

Our staff is entirely remote, we connect using Slack, Appear.in, and have been able to maintain a great company culture while working in our underpants. Well, it might just be me working in my underpants, I can’t be sure. I digress.

In our weekly meetings I always ask my team, “What can we be doing better?” and “What is keeping you up at night?” By asking those questions, we are able to figure out what our bottlenecks are and address them immediately. We also connected ChangeTip to Slack, and when someone has a kick ass idea, I make it rain (or at least sprinkle) and then add the suggestion to our Trello idea board. We keep a running list of ideas that will make the practice even better, and we reward our staff for contributing crazy and fresh ideas to solve everyday problems. It’s fun, cheap(ish), and makes everyone happy, which is what I am really after.

Build relationships with technology partners

If your client calls you on the phone today with a problem and asks you to help find a solution that will tie into their accounting file, how will you respond? How educated are you about the different add-ons that exist on your cloud based accounting platform’s marketplace? If the integration you chose for your client mysteriously stops working, do you know who to call?

Creating and nurturing relationships with accounting technology partners helps to keep the data flowing. These partnerships allow us to help our clients when they need it most, sometimes even before they know they need it. We also get to hear of what is coming down the product pipeline, have new features to look forward to and we get to plan around the changes that are en route.

We also get a direct link to decision makers who will listen to us gripe and take our suggestions to heart. It is in the best interest of accounting tech companies to listen to their users, or else they will end up with a product that only caters to the needs of their Sr Product Team. Super Bonus: By aligning our company with industry leaders, clients that are well suited for our service are able to find us quickly. Often times when someone has already heard of Xero, Hubdoc, Expensify, or Crunchboards, we know that we will be a good fit for one another. It is a match made in accounting heaven.

Innovate internally

I realize that using the term innovate is incredibly cliche, however, we are using this in the most literal sense. In my practice, we are really identifying how we can create change. I am finding that in order to do this, I and my team must learn to program. We can’t just talk about what tools we want to have in our practice, or what already exists in the marketplace; we must create them. If we want to stay ahead of the curve, we need to get to a point where we can build a feature internally and not have to wait for something to pop up from a third party add-on. This doesn’t replace the need for relationships with our technology partners; but will allow us to make change and apply it at the firm level.

We realized that our job as accountants has changed and continues to change. We aren’t deluding ourselves and know that our work is no longer focused on data entry and looking backwards. If we want to stay relevant, we must look forward. To do that we must learn to collect, manipulate, and analyze data that will help stoke the fires of change. We must also cut through the minutiae and automate the mundane. Internal innovation will help us to do this. I encourage my team and anyone else with a desire to guide change to learn to program. There are countless online courses, for free, that will help to set the stage for success. Also, a side benefit of learning a new language is that it forces me to use parts of my brain that were not being used or were used infrequently. This affects all parts of the business; I can develop internal processes better, solve problems more quickly, and challenge myself to do more and dream bigger.

Consider the state of accounting even 5 years ago and now start to think about the future. It is your duty as a firm owner or staff accountant to be adaptable and start to consider where this trade is going. Don’t dwell in the past, look forward and see what is on the horizon. You can either sit and wait for the phone to stop ringing and become irrelevant, or you can build innovation into your practice today. Start small, think big, and be the force of change in your practice.

Cristina Garza has built a spectacular book of business from the ground up and serves clients in a wide range of industries including technology startups, creative agencies, recreational and medical dispensaries, and professional service organizations. When she is not working alongside her super star team, she can be found backpacking in the mountains or lifting all of the weights.

Reblog: Xerocon: How to Navigate the App Ecosystem

Special thanks to Seth Fineberg of AccountingWeb for the great interview about Xero Add-Ons and my role at Xerocon. http://www.accountingweb.com/technology/accounting-software/xerocon-how-to-navigate-the-app-ecosystem


If you are working in any accounting system, chances are you are starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the third-party apps that claim to work with them.

The aforementioned education or best practices often come from those like Cristina Garza, who runs two accounting practices, both of which do payroll and bookkeeping services. She is also a cloud integrator and regularly assesses client needs and vets software and applications on their behalf. Garza has been doing this for six years and currently has a half-dozen employees and more than 150 clients.

AccountingWEB recently asked her some pointed questions about third-party app ecosystems, common integration issues, and how accounting professionals can properly navigate the marketplace, or help their clients do so.

Garza: For us we’ll start with reviews. GetApp is really good at those. We look at rankings, we look at the app marketplaces, and see what people say. Also, we’ll look at the needs of the business. You need to know the needs before you can advise, so we do a lot of due diligence first. Also, we don’t want the software to be too robust. We ask leading questions, like “Do all of your staff have smartphones?” or “How do they check in with work every day?” and that helps to start rather than just say, “I need a time-tracking application. OK, here’s the top five.”

AW: What types of apps may be most beneficial for a firm to consider?

Garza: In adopting software, you have to look at internal needs: your accounting software, your document management next, and then see what is preferred and does work with a core accounting system or has a good ecosystem. I know we rely heavily on project management tools; we use our current system as CRM (client relationship management). If you are working with a ton of clients and don’t have the right system, it’s going to get cumbersome really fast. It has to be visual and easy to use. I want to know touchpoints with a client, and I want to know where projects are.

AW: What is the most common issue raised when integrating a third-party app with an existing program or platform?

Garza: The most common issue is the client not really understanding how the integration works. They may read or have been told things one way, but the reality is something else. We will put a chart together about how things do get synced over and get everyone on the same page so they know what to expect from the specific software. You have to do that way early in the process. Having the right people who understand how integration works or is supposed to work is essential. If you’re working with a client and not paying attention, problems can happen, so how things work one day may not down the road. You also need to speak up to the software company, too. They want to hear about problems or things that need to be changed.

AW: What is/are the most common “workarounds” that you hear accountants utilize and explain?

Garza: We use Zapier to automate the integration process, also Cloudpipes and OneSaas. If the application is mature enough, there are usually natural integrations, but we can push info back and forth on these tools until the application or publisher makes the change. Otherwise, you end up creating invoices in different folders or programs, sometimes even using paper and other software. You really should watch the integration happen, too. Things can occur and get broken, and you may not always need a workaround. Just call a tech partner or the vendor, too.

AW: How much “trust” or security is there in vendor-recommended apps (i.e., in their app stores or ecosystem)?

Garza: In my experience, there’s usually a ton of vetting and developers are given time to fix problems. Also, there’s usually actual user reviews, not shills in there. I think TrustRadius is really good, too, and if I know any colleagues using a software, that is also helpful and honest. You can’t just take it on the faith or appearance in an app store.

Cristina Garza will be speaking in a session entitled “Ecosystem: Practice Tools” where she will speak more specifically about boosting productivity with tools designed for a scalable practice at the upcoming Xerocon SF 2016 conference August 15-17.

Xero Search is Here!

Have you heard of Xero Search? OMG, it is awesome! Xero released this nifty new feature that will allow you to find information, as quickly as you can type. With Xero Search you can easily access transactions, payables, contacts and more from any screen. Here’s how Xero Search let’s you get more done in less time:

  • Enter your search quickly with predictive text
  • Access additional details and information
  • Create new invoices, bills or purchase orders faster

Check out this video to learn more about this handy, dandy feature today!

 

Guest Post- The Opposite Of Success Isn’t Failure

My friend Barrett over at The Green Abacus is an amazing CPA and business owner. He has worked with some amazing tech startup companies, has coached clients through crowdfunded campaigns, and prides himself in being a superhero for his clients, just like us! The purpose of his firm is pretty awesome:

We’re the geeky CPA firm that purposefully has a lot of personality. We believe that companies that grow cultures will be stronger and better prepared for success than companies that treat culture as an afterthought. As your financial advisors, we want you to be profitable and to create a culture that reflects your values, because we believe that each builds off the other.

I feel like anytime I meet someone so dedicated to their clients and practice, it is my duty to share them with anyone who will listen. This guy is someone to watch and get aligned with! To top it off, Barret has graciously allowed us to repost this blog, which first appeared on his website

The opposite of success isn’t failure.

It’s tempting, when your why is “enabling the success of others”, to try to find ways to reduce failure.

The Opposite of Success Isn't Failure

Failure is painful. Failure is a punch in the face. And frustrating. And requires patient reassessment. Failure can lead to no cash, which could mean (if we let you fail) that you can’t afford our help any more and you leave us. So most companies will promise success in the form of an absence of failure.

But that’s bad for you. Because the opposite of success isn’t failure.

Failure is a great teacher. Failure is blunt feedback. Failure tells you that the crowd doesn’t want what you’re selling (or that you’re not reaching the right crowd). Failure is a stepping stone to success, and if that success isn’t refined by failures, it’s not going to look that great.

It’s hard to think of a single product that nailed it so well in v.1.0 that they never ever had to make improvements and a new release. So why would we want to mask your failure – “save you” from that – and pretend everything is beautiful already? You don’t want that.

The opposite of success isn’t failure. It’s hopelessness.

Hopelessness is when you can no longer get up from failure. Hopelessness is when you stop learning from failure. Hopelessness is when you move from “I’ve failed” to “I’m a failure”. Hopelessness is when failure stops refining your product, and you give up on making altogether.

At The Green Abacus, we want to enable your success. But we won’t fight against failure on your behalf. We will fight with you – for you – against hopelessness.

If you are interested in learning more about The Green Abacus and hearing what Barrett is up to, you should join his mailing this here: http://www.thegreenabacus.com//

One Less Headache- Expense Reporting with Dash

I had the pleasure of meeting Ryan Weidenmiller, CEO of Karmic Labs at Xerocon in Denver this year. He and his awesome team at Karmic Labs developed Dash, and I was blown away.

Once upon a time, one of the biggest headaches I had to deal with was expense reporting. I have a thousand things to do during the day, and looking over receipts, entering a bill for reimbursement, and then cutting a check seemed treacherous. I know, to some people it isn’t a big deal, but when I am juggling a million projects, I often leave this until the last minute. I really don’t like to handle expense reimbursements that way, because it also drives my employees crazy. I know they want to get paid back and when it takes 3 weeks to get repaid, they probably want to throw things at me.

So, when Ryan told me about Dash, I was stoked. 

Instead of tracking down paper, and having my employees jump through a bunch of hoops, I just give them prepaid expense cards and have them download the Dash app. When my employees need to make a purchase, they have cash on hand and don’t have to dig into their personal piggy bank. When the transaction is complete, they just scan the receipt and with the handy optical character recognition (OCR), the receipt is filed away and then pushed over to my Xero account. The Dash cards act as individual petty cash accounts that we draw from and provide documentation for. When someone needs a little extra dough, they can request it or I can have it auto top up, so I don’t even have to deal with it. If the card gets lost or stolen, or we need to cut someone off, all I have to do is tell the app to shut the card down. It is so easy!

Now, when my clients ask for us to handle expense reimbursements, I just direct them to the fellas at Dash and they handle the on-boarding. When my clients sign up, they use my invite code “Accountingprose” and they get bumped to the top of the line. That means they don’t have to wait to implement the service because my clients have essentially been pre-screened by me.

Oh yeah, the best part? It doesn’t cost a thing, unless you need things like paper statements. The super geniuses at Dash don’t make money off of my clients by charging a month to month subcription, but rather get a cut of the processing fee. I like this. My clients like this. We have more money to invest in other parts of their business, and spend less time rummaging through paperwork.

Check out this video to learn more about Dash.

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2015 Xero Roadshow- Washington DC, Chicago, Dallas

One of the great things about being a part of the Xero community is being able to share knowledge with other super star accountants. This Summer, Xerocon was hosted in Denver and I got to hang out with so many super fun, accounting nerds and learned so much! I felt like I walked away with a thousand ideas of what to do next with my business and had so many great people to bounce ideas off. No one held anything back, it was just a bunch of like minded humans sharing the love and I immediately started to go into withdrawals once it was over.

This month,  I have the good fortune to be a part of the Xero Roadshow and will be teaching on the following dates/locations.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Loft at 600 F – 3rd Floor
600 F St. NW
Washington, DC 20004

 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Revel Downtown
440 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60606

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Gilley’s Dallas, South Side Event Center
1135 S. Lamar St.
Dallas, TX 75215

Register Here: https://www.etouches.com/usroadshow

I am thinking of this like a mini XeroCon. It is a bunch of really similar events, spread out throughout the US to bring the fun to YOU. How neat is that? So, if you have any interest in hanging out with some accounting thought leaders, learning about what is changing in our industry, and spending some time working on (rather than in) your business, you should join me. If I haven’t convinced you about how awesome this event is, you should watch this video with Steve Chaney and Bruce Phillips… You will be pumped in no time!

Client Spotlight: Keep It Cut

1When is the last time you had a really good haircut? Holy heck, it feels great. When Josh called me up to tell me about his concept of subscription based salon services, I knew he had a winning concept. What greater feeling than to walk in to your neighborhood salon and When is the last time you had a really good haircut? Holy heck, it feels great. When Josh called me up to tell me about his concept of subscription based salon services, I kget a quick trim before a hot date or job interview and not have to fork over a ton of cash? Talk about VIP treatment.  Like they say, there is no need for unkempt hairlines and unruly neck beards- check them out!

Name of Business: Keep It Cut

Type of Business: Subscription Based Salon

What does a “day in the life” look like for you?

Well neither of us have any skill in cutting hair, so we spend our time working on marketing, planning and problem solving.What is your superhero ability and why? ESP. Right now you are thinking about getting a haircut. Right?

What do you love about running your business?

We love the flexibility that comes with running your own business.  We work when there is work to be done and don’t when there isn’t or don’t feel like it.  It feels different when you do work for yourself.

Bragging Rights: What are you most proud of?

This our second business venture and first non-franchise.  We are proud of creating a place people enjoy frequenting.

How has outsourcing your accounting helped your business?

Doing bookkeeping is about as exciting to us as watching grass grow.  We were happy to give that to Accountingprose so we could focus our time on doing things we enjoy, which is just about anything else.

Any specials, deals, coupons, etc that you would like to extend to our readers?

Unlimited Haircuts for $23 a month.

Additional information:

Keep it Cut is a men’s hair salon in Phoenix that offers Unlimited Haircuts for $23 a month.  Check us out at www.keepitcut.com

Xero Bookkeeping in Denver — Happy Happy, Joy Joy

Accountingprose, is growing and beginning to enter new markets; we have expanded into Denver, Co and are super excited to get to know the city. This week we invaded coworking spaces, were introduced to so many wonderful people, and traveled by bike throughout the city, to get to know our new digs even better. We were even invited to the Xero Corporate office and got the chance to meet some innovating accountants and super smart developers. In a word, last week was awesome!

Tues: Converge

On Tuesday, we headed over to the RiNo district (River North) and camped out at Converge. We met with John Maikowski, the Founder of Converge, who showed around around this great space. Converge has a great mix of talent- including a painter, a video editor, and graphic designers. They were super inviting, and gave us tips on where to eat (The Source) and what to do (go to a brewery!). It was so nice to feel the cool breeze from the open bay doors and feel so welcome. We will certainly return.

Weds: Green Spaces

Green Spaces let us hang out a bit on Weds. They space is really comfy, with a lounge area up front, some dedicated desks in the middle, small offices in the back, and kitchen area (complete with snacks!). Jenny, the founder, reminded me of our own Coworking space’s founder (who happens to share the same name!). She hosts networking events, helping to connect the members which will allow their businesses to thrive. With plans to expand into the space next door, there is no doubt that she will have the chance to bring even more bright minds together.

Thurs: Xero Corporate Office

The grand finale was our visit to Xero HQ on Thursday. We met with Derek Draper, Manager of Partner Relations- which means he helps to bring savvy accountants into the Xero fold. The entire team is working hard to support both the advisors and small business owner clients, by developing new features, educating partners on best practices, and keeping the whole ship afloat. They are doing an unbelievable job, which is why we have switched our clients over. Later this month, we are traveling to the San Franciso Corporate Office to visit with the bright minds of Xero:San Fran. Oh what fun we will have! We will be sure to tell you all about it!

Want to chat with an awesome bookkeeper in Denver? Just holler!

 

How to Build Your Dream

Tina, our Chief Number Cruncher, was asked to take part in the Dreambuilder program, sponsored by Freeport McMoran and filmed at Thunderbird School of Global Management, that helps women achieve the dream of small business ownership. Dreambuilder connects women with a training series that teaches them to how to build a marketing plan, a business plan, and sets them on the path to success.

In addition to the training, the women in the program are given the opportunity to hear what it is like to run a business from other women. Tina shares her thoughts on what it means to be a business owner and what every entrepreneur should do when they first begin. Want a hint? Kick ass and treat people well.

Repost: SuccessLab Podcast 06 — What Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know About Bookkeeping and Accounting

We just finished up an amazing interview with Beth Cochran of Success Lab and Wired PR. Check out what we think it means to run a small business and how do to it well. this interview was so much fun!

Interview Link!

In this episode, I’m in The Lab with Tina Garza, founder of Accounting Prose, a bookkeeping and payroll services company. We discuss some of the top things every business owner should have in place in terms of their bookkeeping and accounting…information I wish I would have known when I first started my company. I’ve known Tina for several years now and she is a rock star at what she does, so I’m excited to share the information she provides.

Discussion with Cristina Garza:

  • The most important thing you can do as a small business owner is to do your due diligence on local tax laws, find someone who’s successful in your same industry who may be willing to serve as mentor and follow what they’ve done accounting wise.
  • Hire a bookkeeper and accountant early on. It’s not worth your time to try to figure it out.
  • Save your receipts and use something with a paper trail (purchase with a credit card for example). Review what’s coming in and going out each month. Don’t wait until the end of the year to correct something big.
  • Quickbooks is the obvious one, but Xero a forward-thinking and will likely gain the market share soon.
  • When looking for a CPA, look for someone who specializes in your industry. Also look out of the H&R Blocks of the world…oftentimes their representatives aren’t actually CPAs.
  • Cristina’s pro tips for small business owners: Surround yourself with successful people, always have a thirst for knowledge, take time off, build a power team.
  • Check out Crankset Group and their two books, “Making Money is Killing Your Business,” and “Why Employees are Always a Bad Idea.”

This week’s Biz Hack:  This past week in our SuccessLab mastermind group, one topic that came up had to do with content marketing and managing it all. This is an area I love and something we regularly manage for clients, and one thing I suggest for any kind of content marketing program is to create an editorial calendar. This may seem like a obvious or simple biz hack, but a lot of people overlook it. But an editorial calendar will help keep you on track and focused, and provide a roadmap for you to follow. This is particularly useful if you have more than one person creating content for you. Here is a downloadable template for an editorial calendar model we use in the show notes, but a few things we like to include are the type of content – blog, podcast, video, etc. – focus keywords for that piece of content, who is responsible for creating it, a due date and publish date, and where it will be shared – for instance, if it’s a blog post, can it also be shared via email, can it be made into a video and shared on Youtube or a slide show and posted on SlideShare, and of course the obvious networks – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Having it mapped out lets you see what you need to create ahead of time and where it will go. It’s also helpful when you are measuring your content’s effectiveness as you can use it as reference to see where you shared it and which keywords you used, and compare it to your metrics.  

Action Items: Last week’s action item was all about finding your ONE THING, and this week’s builds upon that…it’s goal setting to the now in which you set a future goal then drill down to what you should be doing now to achieve that someday goal. In essence you set your someday goal by asking “what’s the one thing I want to do someday? Then based on my someday goal, what’s the one thing I can do in the next five years? All the way down to, based on my daily goal, what’s the one thing i can do right now? So this week, work on setting your someday, five year, one year, monthly, weekly, daily and right now goals. This is also from the book, “The One Thing.” So if you need more help with that definitely check out the book.

Quote of the week: You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” ~ Dr. Seuss

Be sure to tune in next week! We’ll be in the lab with Andy Crestondina, founder of Orbitz Media Studios in Chicago. We talk all about content hubs and why marketers need them. Until then, have prosperous week!

Repost: Helping The Small Business Community With Finances

Thank you GrowSouthwest for this beautiful write up!

Check them out online

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Name of company:

Accountingprose, LLC

Industry:

Finance/Accounting

What inspired you to start your business?

I was working with a monk who ran a business teaching business professionals ethics around the globe. The work was exciting, but I kept getting requests to help small business owners with their finances. After about a year of juggling clients and a CFO position, I realized that I enjoyed working with small business owners the most. I handed my position over to a nun, Venerable Lobsang Drolma, and never looked back

How long have you been in business?

4 awesome years

What sets you apart from your competitors?

We make accounting accessible for small business owners and help people integrate technology with their finances. We use the industry standard, Quickbooks, but are also introducing Xero, an online accounting App, and can integrate it with a variety of SaaS apps to automate workflow and bring information together without a lot of extra work.

“We take accounting to the next level and do the impossible; make accounting fun.”

What made you choose CO+HOOTS as your co-working office?

I thrive on community and connection and CO+HOOTS is a natural fit. I love being around like-minded people who are super excited to share ideas and are all working tirelessly to build their dream. It is an inspirational and exciting environment.

What hurdles have you faced in being an entrepreneur?

Hiring has been the most difficult challenge. I have made the mistake of hiring quickly and firing slowly, and not being focused enough with my hires. I have changed my outlook and now look for a cultural fit, experience and moldability. I look for people who are eager to learn and excited to build the brand. My staffers have made my life easier and are brand ambassadors.

What advice can you offer new startups and budding entrepreneurs?

Be clear with your goals, measure, and adjust accordingly. You can’t steer your business in the right direction if you don’t know what direction you are going.

If you need help with your finances, check out Tina Garza at Accountingprose! You may see her at CO+HOOTS from time-to-time and we can only image that’s she’s a busy woman during tax season.

Partner Spotlight: Nicole Pavlik of Forakis Law Firm

NicoleNicole and I met at a networking event more than a year ago. The first thing I noticed about her was her incredible attitude; we laughed our tails off for most of the event and became fast friends. After getting to know her more,I realized that she isn’t your typical attorney. She spends time educating and engaging her clients. When she isn’t busy working directly with clients, she is leading educational seminars and bringing her sound advice to a captive audience.

I have recommended several of our own clients to work with her and all say the same thing- She is fantastic! If you are looking for someone to assist with end of life planning or business law, she is your gal.

What does a “day in the life” look like for you?

Every day is different but typically I meet with new clients or existing clients to answer their questions about the Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney or my business clients about setting up LLC’s, Corporations and much needed contracts. After meeting with clients, I go back to my desk and draft and prepare the documents needed by my clients. I do not have a paralegal or assistant prepare the documents—I do this all myself.

What is your superhero ability and why?

I am a super listener. I think too many attorneys want to do all the talking and tell their clients what they need. I feel that in order to give great legal advice and help my clients to the fullest I have to listen carefully to what they are saying.

What do you love about running your business?

I have the freedom to work with the clients and professionals that I like. I can also spend more individualized time with each of my clients. Of course, running my own business allows me to make my own schedule which is great for me but also for my clients because I can accommodate most anyone’s schedule.

Bragging Rights: What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the fact that I am an attorney—but not a stereotypical attorney!

Instead I am easy going, friendly, fun, open-minded, and caring. I want my clients to feel comfortable with me!

Any specials, deals, coupons, etc that you would like to extend to our readers?

$100 of any legal services

Contact Info:

Nicole L. Pavlik, PLC

nicolep@forakislaw.com

(602) 743-4046

346 E. Palm Lane

Phoenix, AZ 85004

Client Spotlight: Billie’s Handyman Services, LLC

BilliesWhen Billie Grace walked into my office, I knew I wanted to have her as a client. She came in smiling and laughed during our entire one hour consultation. She truly loves what she does and will win you over in a heartbeat. She is a professional through and through and takes incredible pride in her work. We are excited to see her business grow and are with her every step of the way.

One look at her van will show you that she means business. She has the phrases , “Good Things to All”, “Be Happy”, “Practice Kindness Every Day”, and “Never Give Up” emblazoned on the side. While some people might mouth these words, she shouts them from the rooftops. She is, in a word, a rockstar.

Name of Business

Billie’s Handyman Services LLC

PO Box 36474

Phoenix, AZ 85067

(602) 465-3721

What does a “day in the life” look like for you?

I awaken to a beautiful poodle mutt mix “Bennie” and we go for a walk! Then the phone starts ringing and it’s off to the races! We are on Angie’s List and this brings in a steady number of new clients plus my repeat clients from the last decade. My day is full-mostly happy clients, every once in awhile a sour apple slips in, but for the most part I experience happy people to work for and my associates and I have a good time each day.

What is your superhero ability and why?

Flexibility and the ease of going with the flow.  In my line of work all kinds of things can happen each day and flexibility and staying calm when things are not going as planned is important.

What do you love about running your business?

My days are usually long and physically demanding—a lot of hard work! I look back over the last 28 years and see where I have come from and have witnessed my human development into a confident business owner. That’s what I love most; the growth and its continued development within me and that which will come into being over the next 20 years. Say YES to your DREAMS!

Bragging Rights: What are you most proud of?

Clean Lines Painting! A good paint job is okay but an excellent paint job is the best!

It has taken me some years to master my skill of painting; example—white ceiling and dark color walls- when I am finished that ceiling and wall line is as precise as the edge of 11 x 8 paper.  

How has outsourcing your accounting helped your business?

It has given me time and peace of mind! I am a handyman not a bookkeeper! I wish I had found Accountingprose a lot sooner. It was one of my smarter decisions!

Any specials, deals, coupons, etc that you would like to extend to our readers?

15% off Labor Only if you respond to this ad in 90 days of posting.

Additional information, notes, etc

Billie’s Handyman Services is not just your ordinary handyman company, we believe that quality service starts the moment “YOU” call us and it never finishes. We believe that winning your loyalty is a continual process that’s takes 110% of quality craftsmanship and service. With today’s market and so many handyman companies to choose from, it is always our belief in our “Best Care Policies” that our clients always experience a win-win when doing business with Billie’s Handyman Services LLC.

“Best Care Policies” Customer Service, Quality and Fair Pricing are key principal in how we handle our company business.

Currently we accept checks or cash; credit cards and payment plans are accepted now on a project by project basis.

Billie’s Handyman Services offers a wide variety of services; Carpentry, Drywall, Electrical, Painting, Plumbing, Remodeling, Design @ 5-K, and Resale Ready!

Good Things to Everyone!

Small Business Risk

By Donald Smith

Let’s talk about risk.

We’re all comfortable with at least some degree of risk in our lives.  We leave our homes in the morning, risking traffic delays and unplanned encounters with other vehicles.  We continue to drive our cars long after the warranty has expired.  We may risk damage to our furniture or other property due to the actions of children and pets. It’s theoretically possible to eliminate any risk that can be identified, but most of the time it’s neither feasible nor desirable to do so.

If we are in business, we have other risks, and some of them have the potential to really mess up our lives – not just economically.  There is the risk that our investment and effort won’t pay off, and we’ll lose money.  There’s the risk that a customer will default on his or her obligation.  There’s the risk that an employee will act against our interests, or get in an accident, or get sick and not be able to complete an assignment.   A supplier could fail to deliver important components on time, and we lose a customer because we can’t meet a deadline.  Assumptions underlying one of our estimates may be faulty, and we could be forced to complete the project at a loss.  Or worse than all of the above, our bookkeeper could fail to pay our payroll taxes, and the IRS could come in and shut us down.

Dealing with risk is largely a matter of understanding our tolerance, and evaluating the costs of mitigation against the likelihood and severity of a possible adverse event.  We purchase automobile insurance so we don’t lose our assets if we somehow negligently cause an accident.  We carry insurance on our homes so we won’t be left destitute if there is a fire.  We pay for antivirus protection and online backups for our computers, because the likelihood of a data loss from hardware failure or malicious software is significant, and the impact of that data loss would be severe.  

When running a small business, there is a bundle of risks associated with accounting and bookkeeping that can be mitigated at a low cost compared to the losses that could otherwise occur.  This bundle includes the following related items:

  1. The risk of faulty or untimely information, which can result in lost opportunities, inefficient spending, or tax penalties.
  1. The risk of material misstatements in financial reporting (including tax returns), resulting in penalties or defaulting on loan covenants.
  1.  The risk of undetected error or fraud, resulting in a loss of assets.

Accountants tend to focus on internal control to minimize these risks.  Internal control refers to the systems, procedures, and environmental factors that serve to ensure that financial information is timely and reliable, and that employees are doing their jobs rather than acting in their own interests.  One key element of internal control over accounting is segregation of responsibilities, so that no single employee has the ability to divert assets, or cover up fraud, and that the work of one employee provides a natural check on the work of another.  The classic formulation is that authority to authorize a transaction should be separated from recordkeeping for that transaction, which is further separated from custody of the assets involved, and yet again from the responsibility for verifying or reconciling the assets to the accounting records.  This separation of duties is less important when one or more of the functions are performed by an owner of the business, but other than an owner, no single individual should handle more than one of these functions.  The person that buys things should not prepare vendor payments, and that person should not be able to sign checks.  A fourth person should reconcile the bank account and verify the balance in the accounts payable ledger.

When your business reaches the stage where you need someone in the office full time, the temptation is to make that person a combination office manager/bookkeeper, and give them responsibility for both record keeping and reconciliation of accounts.  Sometimes they even has access to a signature stamp, and can prepare and send out vendor payments (or payroll checks) as needed in the owner’s absence.  No matter how trusted this individual is, this is an invitation for fraud, as well as a breeding ground for sloppy accounting and the errors that inevitably spring forth in such an environment.   

When there isn’t enough work to justify multiple administrative employees in the office (which is needed for separation of duties), often the most cost-effective way to minimize the accounting-related risks is to outsource some of the accounting workload.  With an outside service handling the higher level functions, you can have your office manager focused on operations and customer service, while the outside folks review the office manager’s data entry work, reconcile the accounts, and make sure all the legal requirements are met.  Outsourcing bookkeeping and payroll functions allows you to limit the level of access your office manager has to sensitive financial information, and lowers the specialized skill level in accounting that individual needs to have in order to function.  It is a waste of resources to have a professional accountant answering the telephone, and it is an enormous risk to have an administrative employee in the office, communicating regularly with all your employees, customers, and vendors, who is at the same time working with sensitive payroll and other financial information.

Outsourcing payroll and bookkeeping functions can help minimize your financial risk, and maximize the cost-effectiveness of your office staff.  Ready to outsource? Give us a call. We are happy to help.

Client Spotlight — Ken Clark

KenWe are proud to call Ken Clark our client. Not only is he a kick ass Realtor, he is also a really wonderful person. He is instrumental in creating community by running an amazing networking event (check it out) and has taken his love for Arizona one step further by running for Legislature in LD 24 in 2014. His kick off party is on 10/08 and you are invited. Check it out.

Name of Business

Ken Clark, Realtor

What does a “day in the life” look like for you?

I am at my desk at 07:30 looking over listings to see what is available for my clients. After that, I’m on the phone with my team member, Michelle, to talk about what we have on the docket for the day. From there on, its a whirlwind of activity: showings, presentations and marketing. Its always different.

What is your superhero ability and why?

I seem to have an ability to pick the neighborhoods that are “on the way up”. Its not much a superhero ability. I would not do well against The Joker with that one.

What do you love about running your business?

The people, the houses and the variety. I love all my clients, but I really love helping first time home buyers get the right start in life.

Bragging Rights: What are you most proud of?

I started as an agent in 2008, when the market was crashing. I did it on purpose. I felt that if I could learn the business when times were tough, I’d do much better later. By 2012 I was one of the top 10% HomeSmart agents in the state.

How has outsourcing your accounting helped your business?

Immensely. It meant I did not have to stress about the numbers. I could pay myself a regular amount at regular intervals and focus more on my clients.

Any specials, deals, coupons, etc that you would like to extend to our readers?

You may have seen the following phrase on my email signature or in the Clark Report: “You refer, I donate. Call me today to find out how I can support your favorite charity. I appreciate your referrals!”

This is my attempt to focus positive attention on those charities that you care about, and which do so much good work here in Phoenix.

Here is how it works. If you send me a referral for a home sale or purchase, and that transaction closes, I will make a personal donation to the charity of your choice. I will post on my blog and on Facebook that your referral was instrumental in making that donation happen.

It is as simple as that.

I always appreciate your referrals, so let’s do some good work together!

Call me at 602-456-9388 or email me at ken@getyourphx.com

http://www.getyourphx.com/support-a-charity/

Growing Pains

Your business has grown to the point where you can’t take care of everything yourself any longer, and your spouse or significant other already has a job. You need to hire someone to handle some of the workload – but what part of the workload, and what kind of “someone” do you need? Which of the cases below describes your dilemma?

  1. You need time to focus on your current top priorities, but your phone won’t stop ringing and your email inbox is overflowing, and you can’t afford for your customers to feel neglected.
  1. You’re so busy managing the current workload that you don’t have time to go out and get the next job, so when the projects currently underway wind down, so will your income.
  1. You’re making money. You charge everything to a credit card or two, pay the bills when they arrive, and there’s money left over to transfer to your personal account when you need it. You’re not sure how much you’ve made, but you’re definitely doing better than  breaking even. You put the bank statements, credit card statements, and receipts in a file box and plan on dropping the box off with your CPA sometime between January 1 and  April 15. The tax preparation bill last year was atrocious, but what can you do?
  1. Cash is tight. You’re working 60 hours a week, and can’t seem to get ahead. You’re  certain you should be making more money, but either your customers aren’t paying, or your expenses are higher than they should be – and you’re too busy making ends meet to figure it out.

Do one of those four scenarios describe your situation? If so, there are some strategic staffing moves you should consider.

  1. If you’re living in Scenario #1, you need a traffic cop – or, what used to be called a secretary. A secretary works closely with you, learning your business, your personality, and your preferences, so s/he can anticipate both your needs and your reactions, and knows when to interrupt and when to take a message. Secretaries gather information, present it to you for your decisions at convenient times, and then carry out your instructions; allowing you to focus on your current priorities while everything else is being taken care of in the background. A good secretary can double your productivity at half your salary, so you should give serious consideration to making this your first staffing move.
  1. In many industries, if you’re not focusing on getting new business, you’re at most a few months from bankruptcy. You need someone to focus on servicing your current customers, freeing you to go after new business. The skill set required will vary with the nature of your business. If you’re in real estate, you may need a junior agent or licensed assistant. If you sell a product over the Internet, you need a customer service representative with access to all the relevant information. This person will be dealing with your customers on a daily basis, so you will need to ensure s/he has professional knowledge, adequate tools, exemplary communication skills, and unfailing integrity.
  1. Congratulations – you’re apparently winning at the small business game. You know you need help to deal with the expanding workload, and you’re pretty sure you can afford to hire someone. You might already have someone you’re paying as an independent contractor handling some of the overflow, and you’re getting a vaguely uneasy feeling that you might be in trouble come tax time. If this describes you, you need a bookkeeping service like Miley Cyrus needs adult supervision. You might need a secretary, or a CSR, as well, but having someone working in the background to get your financial records organized and make sure you’re in compliance with the maze of payroll, employment, sales tax, and other regulatory burdens will save you a lot of time, money, and grief down the road.
  1. If you’re identifying with the overworked and underpaid entrepreneur, you need a little more than just a bookkeeping service. You need someone to go through your financial records, make sure you’re billing (and getting paid) for your work, and hopefully identify some ways to improve your company’s financial performance. Perhaps a company that specializes in small business accounting, with diverse experience, and a staff accountant with an MBA would be helpful.

Need help getting out from under a pile of papers and back to doing the things you love? Give us a call, we can help set you free.

End of Year Prep: 1099s and W2s

If there’s one thing small business accountants and bookkeepers dread above all others, it’s January. The flurry of activity required to keep up with day-to-day operations while getting W-2s and 1099s ready to send out, and year-end financial statements…let’s just say it’s never too early to get ready for year end.

From many years of experience in the trenches, I’ve come to the conclusion that small businesses should give themselves a break, and start working on year end once summer vacation is over.  Labor Day is coming up, and on the Tuesday after, I’ll begin getting my clients ready for the fun fest that is coming in January.  In case you’d like to follow along, and save yourself a big headache (and a possibly a nastygram from the IRS), here’s what I plan on doing:

  1.  I’ll begin with a review of the list of vendors and other payees, and make sure I have Tax ID numbers (EIN or SSN) for each person or entity that has been paid for services (not goods or materials), and the payees are flagged for 1099 reporting.  
  1.  I always double check to make sure the landlord(s) and attorney(s) are flagged for 1099s, and TINs are on file.
  1.  For service providers without TINs on file, request a TIN using Form W-9 (Request for Taxpayer Identification Number).  I used to make a spreadsheet with vendor names and addresses, and merge it with Word form letter – but now I just email a request and attach the W-9 form.  I still use the spreadsheet to track the request, the response, and the update to the file.  Payees (other than landlords and attorneys) who are corporations are generally exempt from 1099 reporting, so I eliminate those with Corp. or Inc. in their name.  LLCs and partnerships get 1099s (for services, not goods), so I make sure I have TINs and their vendor records are flagged appropriately.
  1.  As I receive the completed W-9 forms via email, fax, or owl post, I update my tracking spreadsheet and the vendor record, and file the W-9.  I’ll reply acknowledging receipt of an emailed W-9.
  1.  On October 1, I’ll check and see what TIN’s I’m still missing, and send a follow-up message.  If the payee has a balance, I might suggest that I can’t release payment without their 1099.
  1.  On November 1, I’ll check again, and hopefully I’ll have all the TINs.  If not, I’ll send a third request, and print all three emails and attach them to the vendor record, so when I get a letter from the IRS down the road, I’ll have a defense.  I’ll also submit the TINs to the IRS for verification, to avoid unpleasant surprises next year.

By Thanksgiving, I’ll be finished with the year-end preparations, and I can focus on holiday parties, shopping, and making food I shouldn’t be eating.  When January rolls around, I’ll print a 1099 review report, “unflag” anyone that doesn’t need a 1099 (under $600), order the paper forms and envelopes, and go about other business.  I won’t be scrambling to locate a TIN, or spending hours reviewing all the records to make sure I’ve got everything I need.  My clients shouldn’t be receiving any notices from the IRS, and I won’t be working 70 hour weeks in January and February.  Can you say the same?

Resources:

Download W9: www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf

W9 Instructions: http://www.irs.gov/file_source/pub/irs-pdf/iw9.pdf

Arizona Payroll Law

As any small business owner can testify, once you’ve grown your business to the point where you need help outside your immediate family, your headaches increase exponentially.  Once you have employees, you have a lot more to worry about.  There are legal requirements that can trip you up, at both the state and Federal levels.  Taxes are the biggest and most visible issue, and payroll tax mistakes have caused too many bankruptcies to count.  After payroll taxes, there is the Fair Labor Standards Act, which mandates (among other things) overtime pay for hourly workers.  The “among other things” in the FLSA could fill volumes, and I will probably write about them in more detail as time goes by, but I’m going to spend the rest of this post talking about the little details of Arizona employment law that can be bothersome, annoying, and occasionally expensive.

Arizona is a very employer-friendly state, compared to others.  Ask any small business owner that operates in California where they’d prefer to be, and they’ll tell you that,other than the weather, they’d much rather be in Arizona.  Compared to some of the bluer states, complying with Arizona employment law is simple and inexpensive.  Last April, the Arizona legislature made some changes to our employment laws that made it even easier for small businesses to meet their obligations, by loosening a couple of deadlines that many employers found difficult to meet.  

As a small business employer in Arizona, here are the main things you need to worry about from the state:

  1. State withholding and unemployment insurance taxes.  The application process is easy, and the reporting requirements aren’t overly burdensome, but the penalties for not meeting filing and payment deadlines can get expensive.
  1. Verify eligibility for employment using e-Verify.  Arizona requires employers in the state to participate in this otherwise optional Federal program.  The administrative requirements are rather burdensome, and there are deadlines and rules to be observed.  e-Verify requires a case to be initiated within three days of an employee starting work.  
  1. New hire reporting.  National efforts in support of child support enforcement have caused each state to initiate new hire reporting procedures, so child support enforcement agencies can send out withholding orders immediately, and custodial parents can get their money faster.  New hires must be reported to the state within 20 days of starting work.
  1. Timely payment requirements.  State law requires the following:
  • Scheduled pay dates no more than seven calendar days from the end of the pay period, on days when the banks are open and employees can access their funds.  Until last year, the deadline was five calendar days, and many employer’s didn’t meet it.
  • Regular, scheduled paydays, at least twice per month, no more than 16 days apart (you can pay weekly, biweekly, or semi-monthly).
  • Payment of all amounts due to any involuntarily terminated employee (including accrued vacation pay) within seven calendar days, or the next scheduled payday (whichever comes first). This deadline used to be three working days, and it was missed quite often.  

Failure to meet a payment deadline can expose you to legal liability.  An employee that isn’t paid on time has the right to sue in small claims court, and recover damages (meaning, pay him on time, or pay him three times – your choice).  If you miss payday, and your employee incurs bank charges for insufficient funds due to automatic debits, or late charges on a mortgage, or gets evicted….damages can mount up fairly quickly.  You expect your employees to show up for work on time, and pay attention to their responsibilities.  You owe them the same consideration, and if you make a mistake, you need to correct it immediately.  Just because your employee is to afraid of losing his or her job to take you to court, doesn’t mean it’s not costing you in lost productivity, disloyalty, and loss of your professional reputation.  

  1. Worker’s compensation insurance coverage.  If you have employees, and don’t have worker’s compensation insurance, get it covered.  It doesn’t matter how un-hazardous you think your business is, accidents happen, and you really don’t want the consequences if one happens to one of your employees when you’re not covered.  Do you have any idea how much a broken hip costs, and  how much you’re going to be paying for the next couple of decades if an employee is permanently disabled on the job?  

The recordkeeping requirements associated with Federal and state employment laws are significant, and if your business isn’t large enough to warrant a full time human resources and payroll specialist, it’s probably worth your time and energy to consider outside help in meeting those obligations.  Accountingprose can help, and can add value to your business in the process.  

Managing Small Business Finances: A Straightforward Approach for “Lufsseccus eb ot Woh”

Does the task of managing your small business’s finances make sense for you or are you getting it backward?

Keeping track of income, receipts, invoices, payments, and balance sheets can be extremely time consuming. All of these tasks are super helpful, but is this where you should be spending your time?

Here’s an example of something that I found super time consuming. Imagine the time it took to learn how to do this…

What are the “backward” things in your business that keep moving you off track? What’s bogging you down and keeping you from doing what you love and what you’re really good at? For some people it may be managing finances, shopping insurance, banking, researching legal matters, or graphic design.  Are these tasks tedious, time consuming, and things you don’t love doing? Have you considered outsourcing these things to help keep you from going backward?

As entrepreneurs and small business owners you have a straightforward plan.

Small business superheroes like Accountingprose can help keep you from getting it backward.  Backward isn’t helpful, even if it was pretty impressive in the video.

Let us help you get back on track and back to doing what you are most passionate about.

Salesforce and Quickbooks: Making Two Systems Play Nice

SalesForceWe get requests from clients from time to time asking about software or SAAS applications that will work alongside Quickbooks with no extra work. We have recommended Bill.com, SmartVault and Fishbowl in the past because they are super great and actually help our clients get the information they need and get the job done faster.

This week, we had a client ask us a simple question…

Is there a way to integrate our Quickbooks company file with our customer data in Salesforce.com?

This question, of course, led us down the rabbit hole. I knew the initial answer was yes, but it caused so many other questions to pop up.

  • How does the sync work?
  • Does it cost extra to get the products to work together?
  • Do we need a special version of Salesforce to make everything work?

Why the heck would you want to do all of this? Well, if you connect your CRM and your Accounting Software you can:

  • See open balances and credit limits from within Salesforce- This means your sales people can guide the conversation with useful information. Does the customer have past due balances? Are they way over their limit? This is good info to have when discussing shipping additional inventory.
  • View sales histories for each prospect or customer- Your sales people can see if this a new client or an existing client, which will allow them to target their sales call. Maybe you offer a reorder incentive for existing clients with a 3+ month gap in ordering. Again, you can have this information at your fingertips.
  • Track every customer touch point.- My number one pet peeve is when a salesperson doesn’t remember our last conversation. You can easily pull up your last discussion and improve the sales experience for everyone involved.
  • Enter data once and it’s automatically updated in both Salesforce and QuickBooks- No more redundancy. That is a no brainer.

We spent a little time talking with Aimee of Sputnik Moment and she helped us understand how everyone works together.

It turns out, using Salesforce with Quickbooks is super easy and doesn’t require a masters degree to make it work. The order of operations is pretty much:

  1. Sign up for Salesforce
  2. Follow the step by step instructions to integrate the two systems
  3. Bam! You are in business.

Our hosting provider, Right Networks, doesn’t give a hoot if you connect the two and won’t charge any additional fees for the sync to occur. This is especially good news, because other CRM syncs do cost money.

If you get stuck with the integration, you also have a slew of consultants available to make everything line up. Since we share a coworking space with stellar Salesforce Consultants, we can get you set up super fast and back to doing what you do best. Making it rain!

Here We Grow Again…

BrandonI had a boss/mentor when I was in my early twenties who ran a top notch mortgage company. Of all the business owners I have met over the years, he had to be the sharpest. He ran a tight ship, with a great, dedicated staff and never seemed to make a misstep. I learned a lot about running a business and being in business from him. One of his favorite lines, when we brought new people on, was, “Here we grow again.” I always thought that little quip was filled with cheese and whenever he said it, we all groaned.

Now, as a business owner, I can see why he said it. Bringing new people on board is exciting. It is something to be overjoyed about and sharing this news with the world is really fun. It means that your business has been successful enough to support another person’s livelihood and that people trust your work enough to a) keep coming back and b) refer their friends.  I am excited to bring our newest hire, Brandon Gordon, on because he truly loves working with people. Spending a day brainstorming ways to make our clients cheer is awesome and I am looking forward to working with him in the days/weeks/months to come.

So, when you are in the office, say “Hi!” to Brandon. He ain’t half bad! You can also reach out to him via phone or email. He is here to serve You.

Our Favorite Places to Work and Sip in the Valley

If you are a young entrepreneur or small business owner, then you have probably spent many hours at your favorite local coffee shop brainstorming, creating marketing plans, and envisioning the future of your company. Like us, you’ve consumed copious amounts of coffee, tolerated a never ending indie rock play list, and struggled to find a place to sit with decent elbow room. Coffee shops and co-working spaces provide their customers with an opportunity to be productive alongside other similarly diligent minds. The socialization and relaxation of a place like this is hopefully the impetus for super genius ideas.

We’ve had the wonderful opportunity of working at some truly awesome coffee shops and co-working spaces in Phoenix. Here are our favorite places to work away from home.

#5 – Giant Coffee 1437 N 1st St Phoenix, AZ 85004

5

Source: Arizona Foothills Magazine

On the best days Phoenix has to offer, you will have to stop by Giant Coffee to take advantage of their open air/indoor coffee shop. They offer personal desk like seating with easy to access power, long community tables, and brilliant natural light. Plus, it’s about a minute walk to the Burton Barr library, which in itself is another amazing place to work from.

#4 Copper Star Coffee – 4220 N 7th Ave. Phoenix, AZ 85013

Copper_Star

Source: Arizona Coffee.com

Copper Star was one of the first places we visited in Phoenix. Located on 7th Ave., it is a vintage gas station turned coffee shop. It has semi industrial décor with local art hanging from their concrete walls. On nice days they also have a garage door that opens to let the light and air in. At times it gets busy, so start your day early at Copper Star if you want to get a good work space.

#3 Songbird Coffee & Tea House – 214 East Roosevelt Street  Phoenix, AZ 85004

Songbird

Source: hotsheetblog.com

While we were temporarily housed at Monorchid, we frequented Songbird daily. We’re big fans of their fresh pour-over coffee and their soda espresso. While at Songbird you’ll be right in the heart of Roosevelt Row. After a long day of work you can walk over to a nearby restaurant and complete your local adventure.

#2 Astor House – 2243 N 12th St Phoenix, AZ 85006

Astor

Source: DowntownDevil.com

We are extremely fond of our local café. Located in Coronado, Astor House provides excellent coffee, service, and food. They serve an amazing Japanese brewed coffee which will light a fire underneath you. They also have Blaise Farber, who we feel is the best bartender in Phoenix. His cocktails are as good as they get. We love to meet clients here and hold Accountingprose super genius meetings! Come for coffee or after work cocktails.

#1 Co-Hoots – 1027 E Washington St. Suite 107 Phoenix, AZ 85034

Of course our favorite place to work is our home! Co-Hoots! We’ve been at our new location on Washington row for almost a month and we can’t stop talking about it. The people we work with there are our Phoenix family; we’ve grown close to all the businesses that operate out of Co-Hoots. If you are interested in checking it out let us know and we can have you as our guest.

 

Moving On Up

Blog_1Blog_2November brings big changes for Accountingprose. We have upgraded our membership at our co-working space, Cohoots, to accommodate our growing staff. We are really excited about this because this is a big leap. For the past year we have been drop-ins, with no real home to call our own. Now, with our 2 desk nest we can finally let our business establish roots in the city center.

With this new upgrade, we also have the use of 3 super cool conference rooms- all of which can be reserved for a private meeting with you. On Dec 1, we will once again have our coffee fix satisfied when Greater than Coffee moves in.

We’d love to have you as our guest in this really beautiful and unique space. Give a shout and let us know when we can host you. 

 

Reblog: Feature Cohootian Cristina Garza

Cohoots Blog

Cristina Garza, founder of Accountingprose, knows what it’s like to turn down easy opportunities for the greater good. In fact, her entire business was founded after leaving her paychecks from toxic lenders in Texas to pursue more stable accounting and business practices in Arizona.

Accountingprose does bookkeeping and payroll for small businesses. They operate entirely remotely and specialize in getting people to their “happy place,” as Cristina calls it, by taking the payroll and bookkeeping off the shoulders of entrepreneurs so they can get back to the difference they set out to make in the first place.

Cristina comes from a background of doing mortgage finance for a large broker firm in Texas. Although some of us are not inclined toward numbers or math of any kind, Cristina enjoyed the number crunching, but not the ethics inherent in the mortgage practices that led to the Great Recession in 2008.

“On one hand I really want to help people and give them abundance and wealth,” she said. “But you are giving people these toxic loans and it wasn’t fitting into the good I wanted to provide people.”

At the time, Cristina was studying Buddhism, inspired by Geshe Michael Roach, the first American to receive the Geshe degree at Sera Monastery in India. By the time Cristina heard of him, Geshe Michael had published a book, “The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Managing Your Business and Your Life”, detailing how Buddhist and non-competitive practices can actually enhance your wealth and expand your business.

Cristina moved to Tucson to study Buddhist practices under Geshe Michael. Because of her intense interest in accounting, she eventually became the Chief Financial Officer for Geshe Michael’s consulting company, The Diamond Cutter Institute.

During her time as CFO, Cristina began receiving requests to do people’s bookkeeping and financial favors a la carte. As more people in her circles and her circle’s circles began to learn about Cristina’s talents, she decided to form a small business for herself, later to become Accountingprose .

“As I started to form my business, I started to realize how much I enjoyed working with small business owners.”

Cristina’s next step was moving to Phoenix where she made her business official and created Accountingprose .

“It’s really fun to take businesses that are in total chaos and get them to have ownership over their finances,” she said.

The hardest part of managing small business finances is changing people’s habits, Cristina said. But at the end of the month her clients get financial statements and they can then make educated business decisions based on her services.

For Cristina, her love of accounting always comes back to the simplicity of numbers that are black and white. There isn’t a lot of guesswork or grey area, she said.

Since creating Accountingprose , Cristina has expanded her business and taken on a number of employees, to include a new construction accountant.

What makes working for Accountingprose so alluring is the personal support Cristina has integrated into her business. All work is kept at a manageable level and all of her employees receive paid vacation and unlimited unpaid vacation.

“At big companies, you’d work 80 to 90 hours per week, which equals about 10 bucks an hour with a Master’s degree,” she said. “That is terrible. People who are happy with their lives are happy at their jobs.”

To accommodate her expanding business, Cristina also signed on with CO+HOOTS to fill a nest membership, which means she will have permanent desk space to use when she works out of CO+HOOTS.

“Coworking is non competitive,” Cristina said. “I get to bounce ideas off people and I get people’s opinions in a safe place.”

In Cristina’s opinion, the way businesses today are headed, everything needs to be open without proprietary information. Her background in working for a large mortgage lending company has all but solidified her desire to help small business and do so ethically on her own terms.

“I’m great at one thing: accounting,” she said. “I am able to outsource the rest because I work in the same building with a diverse set of professions.”

Cristina has moved from Texas to Tucson, Tucson to Phoenix, and Phoenix to CO+HOOTS. She has learned life lessons along the way, embracing change and finding ways to pursue her passions beyond the confines of a cubicle.

“You should do the things that scare you,” Cristina said. “Never let your fear keep you from doing the things you love.”

Small Business Superheroes- October Mixer

We held our first mixer on 10/11/12 at Astor House and it was a total success. We had a great turnout of 38 guests, from all kinds of industries. We are planning our next event and looking for a great venue now. At first we thought monthly events would be essential, but after some consideration we think every other month or quarterly makes the most sense. We want to have an event that people look forward to and not another networking obligation. After all, we are creating a fun night out first and foremost.

Navin from Pathangay Associates was our first arrival and we were so excited to have him. He was an integral part of the Parlor Pizzeria remodel, which is an excellent example of adaptive reuse. He is working on a new project which really excites me; a remodel of the Miriam Building at 7th St and Osborne. The new tenant is Gadzooks, a cool new enchilada and soup restaurant. I have been watching this building for a while, and I am excited that someone will put it to good use.

Laura Petersen from Student Tutor also attended our event and even brought a special guest. It was great to hear about the success that Student Tutor has had and to learn more about her guest who is a marketing intern all the way from Cologne, Germany.  I think she wins the prize for longest distance traveled.

Nicole Gonzalez was also a bright star on our guest list. She recently attended the Phoenix Pride Festival and it was fun to hear about that event. She is doing a great job helping LGBT families with their wills and trusts. I love that she has found a market that sorely needs helps and is offering her service with great enthusiasm. I think she is person to watch; a true change-maker.

Pierre and Amy from Sputnik Moment were late arrivals,  but were able to jump into the fun right away. They help Non Profits integrate Salesforce CRM Software into their business, allowing them to build even greater relationships. I personally think that using a CRM in your business is essential. It allows you to stay in touch with your clients and set a follow up schedule, an essential part of customer relationship building.

Kelsey, Jenny and Odeen from Cohoots and Eeko Studio also made an appearance. They are doing such great things for Downtown Phoenix and I am happy to be a part of their Co-Working Space. There are lots of great events hosted at their office and always a desk to work at. If you are ever in Roosevelt and want to work in a cool space, you should definitely check them out.

Finally, Loren Condron from Dotted and Crossed Marketing graced us with his presence. He had just hopped off a plane from Reno and headed straight our little party. Now that’s commitment! Thanks for coming, Loren! We appreciate it!

Would you like to be on our guest list for our next event? Send an email to cristina@accountingprose.com and let me know. I am happy to keep you in the loop.

Networking in Phoenix- Closing Out September

We had another great week of networking and social schmoozing. Keep an eye on our  Calendar, so you can meet us around the Valley.

On Wednesday 9/26 we attended two events, Young Executive Series and Fuerza Local. Young Executive Series (YES) is headed by Paige Gruner, Marketing Specialist for the Chandler Chamber of Commerce. YES is a part of the Chandler Commerce, but you don’t have to be a member of the Commerce to attend their free monthly events. YES was created as an effort to incorporate younger professionals into the chamber. If you have networked at all in this part of the Valley, then I’m sure you’ll run into some familiar faces here.

For this event, attendees were asked to create their own QR code to share their business information. Everyone walked around with their smart phones clicking away at pixilated black squares. I found it a great way to introduce yourself instead of traditional card swapping, which may only last a second or two. If you’re in Central Phoenix we recommend you get out of your networking comfort zone and head out to Chandler for their next event.

For more information about YES you can contact Paige Gruner: paige@chandlerchambers.com.

After leaving YES we headed straight for Fuerza Local, the Spanish language preferred group from Local First Arizona. This event was held at Poblano’s, who provided us with some tasty salsa  and chips to nom on. Fuerza Local is aimed at uniting Spanish speaking business owners to promote community building and offer support for each other. We’ve attended these mixers for the last few months and we’re excited to report that the attendance at each event has grown! There was a wonderful frenzy of energy. Lots of business owners spoke adamantly about this group’s objectives and goals.

Carlos Velasco, who heads the group, reminded the members that this group is about    a local focus, empowering the small businesses of our community, and encouraging others to do the same. He was later joined by Kimber Lanning, Local First Founder, who added her own words about “leveraging your localness”. If you are interested in seeing what Fuerza Local is about talk to us, we’d love to have you as our guest at the next event.

On Thursday we attended the Internations monthly night out. This month the event was held at J&G Steakhouse at The Phoenician, which boasts an incredible view of Phoenix. Internations is a social media site that builds ex-pat communities worldwide. It’s free to join and free to attend. The Phoenix chapter has only been up and running for a few months, but already has close to a hundred people attending their events. This has quickly become one of our favorite networking events. We’ve met dozens of friends and are constantly telling others about it. If you have an international background, or are just globally minded, join up! You must be invited to the group to join, so If you are interested you can ask us about membership and we’ll happily send you an invite.

Finally, on Saturday we attended the Phxmix hosted by Phoenix Design Week.  Many of our clients work in the creative industry. We value the many aspects of art and creativity that exist in business and feel it is a wonderful industry and community to be a part of. In fact, I worked for the Salvador Dali Society as a project manager for many years and still dabble in the art world.
The event started with a light mixer. People trickled in from many of the day’s panels and activities. We were treated to a talk by Sam Harrison about creativity and choices. He touched on how to expand and share ideas and grow them, and making the choices that make those two happen. The most interesting part of the night was when he asked us to take a sheet of paper and write down something that inspires us and then write our name down. Next, he asked us to fold that sheet into a paper airplane.

We then all stood up and faced opposite sides of the room and let’em fly. Everyone then picked up a plane and we were encouraged to get in touch with person whose plane we had! This was a super fun and creative way to connect with others. Sam…we may have to steal this idea from you.

We hope to see you around the Valley. Let us know if you want to be our guest at a mixer and we will gladly oblige.

– Salvador

What the heck is the Local First Fall Festival?

Come show your support of local small businesses at the 2012 Local First Fall Festival.

Important Details (write this down!):

Local First Fall Festival

Date: November 10th, 2012

Time: 10am to 4pm

Location:

Portland Parkway

Downtown Phoenix

10 W Portland St, Phoenix, AZ 85003

Here is what Local First has to say:

This family-friendly street festival drew over 6,000 attendees last year with 60 members participating. We hope you’ll count yourself as one of the attendees for this year’s festival!

$1 tickets will get you great food and all kinds of fun for kids!

Many booths will have fun activities! Entertainment is provided by some of Arizona’s best musicians and bands.

*Side note, we will have a photo booth at our booth and you can take pictures will a real life small business superhero! We even have a top secret prize giveaway planned!

Local breweries and vineyards provide drinks in the Beer & Wine Garden; many local vendors will also be offering non-alcoholic drinks.

A raffle and silent auction raise funds for Local First and the first 500 attendees receive gift bags!

A bouncing castle will keep the young ones entertained while kids of all ages can scale the rock climbing wall.

Check out last years event photos.

I hope you will come out and join us and our booth bffs Across Arizona Tours. We aren’t going to be out there pushing for new leads with strong arm sales tactics. We want to have fun with our community by taking pictures and shaking hands/high-fiving. So don’t be afraid to come up and say “Hi!”.

Patience

What in the world does patience have to do with building a business? In a word- Everything.

Running a business is very exciting. There are a times that great ideas run through our mind all night. We are tempted to run in ten different directions, while tweeting and facebooking all of the great things we plan to do. Often times instead of careful planning we jump the gun or our plans fall flat. Our friends and social media followers might lose confidence in us because they see a lot of “talk”, but not a lot of progress.

So, how can you be more patient with your business, when you need income now? Here are few ideas that may help bring your plans into focus:

  1. Keep a list of all the great ideas you have. Before you go to sleep at night make sure that all of your thoughts are jotted down, so you can rest easy knowing you haven’t forgotten about the “next big thing”.
  2. Make one day of the week your business development day. Spend time evaluating what resources you have and which ideas seem do-able.
  3. Write a game plan to see your project to completion. This includes things like creating due dates, milestones and tasks associated with each milestone.
  4. Celebrate each success and share this with your network of friends and colleagues. They will see how you are making your project come alive and also will be excited to see the progress.

You will find that as you see yourself reaching your milestones, your confidence in project management will increase. You will see that being patient and thorough is much more satisfying than blindly running in ten directions. Your clients will have more confidence in you and your business will grow because of it.

Have you implemented a patience practice in your business? I’d love to hear about it? Send me an email and I will share it via Facebook and Twitter.

Networking in Phoenix- September 2012

Last week Accountingprose superheroes were out and about throughout the valley; building relationships, extending our network, and enjoying mixers with other local businesses. We have started a new series of posts that highlight all of our networking adventures. Check out our event Calendar HERE.  You can save the event information to your calendar easily if you use Outlook, Ical or Google Calendar.

Ad2Phx- September 2sday

Tuesday, September 18, we checked out AD2 Phoenix at Bungalow Bar and Grill in Scottsdale, Arizona. AD2 Phoenix hosts a free monthly mixer called “AD2SDAY”, which focuses on connecting young professionals in the creative industry. There was a great crowd and the restaurant graciously offered us the use of a large part of the restaurant. How kind! Most people stayed past the networking time and enjoyed the great menu that Bungalow has to offer.

If you are a creative mind in advertising or design, we highly recommend you come to their next event. We had the great pleasure to meet Amy Thomas, President, and Sara Lewison, Vice-President of the Organization. Both women are extremely passionate about getting like minded individuals together and look forward to meeting you at their next event.

Follow Ad2Phx on Twitter and Facebook.

Local First Arizona- Member Mixer

This month’s Local First Member Mixer was held at Buzzberry in Scottsdale, AZ. We enjoyed socializing with local small business owners, while getting caffeinated and sugared up. Two of our friends, Nicole of Nicole Gonzales Attorney at Law and Laura of Student Tutor, both decided to join Local First after their introduction to the group. We are so happy to have them in this fabulous group.  

If you follow us at all, you know that we are huge proponents of being a part of your community and spending locally. So, when you are in Scottsdale, take a moment to relax at Buzzberry, we know you will love it!

Follow Local First Arizona on Twitter and Facebook.

Cohoots

Thursday night Accountingprose was out in full force at The Get Your Phx Dinner & A Movie; an event co-presented by Co+Hoots and Get Your PHX. The evening started out with light socializing at Angels Trumpet Ale House before moving across the street to the Film Bar for a screening of Urbanized. Angels Trumpet Ale House offered us lots of yummy food, which was quickly gobbled up.

If you are in The Roosevelt District please take the time to co-work at Cohoots, dine at Angels Trumpet and watch a movie at Film Bar. That is local triple threat!

Follow CoHoots on Twitter and Facebook.  

Follow Get Your Phx Twitter and Facebook.

Freelancers: Six Steps to Rock Your Finances

re you a freelancer who loathes dealing with your finances? Have no fear! Follow these six steps and financial bliss will surely follow…

  1. It ain’t personal- Get a business bank account and run every purchase through it. Don’t use your personal account for business and vice versa. It will make tracking so much easier.
  1. Find a method and stick to it– It doesn’t matter if you use a simple spreadsheet or fancy software. Just find a method of tracking your assets, income and expenses and stick to it. Update it often to see trends and at the end of the year doing your taxes will be so much easier.
  1. Collect-Send invoices out each month on the same day. Put a big dollar sign on your calendar if you have to remind yourself. If you are using an accounting program, you can set it up to send out invoices. If you are still creating old school Word Invoices make sure that your clients know that you would like to get paid and if they don’t pay, remind them. Everyone has a million things on their plate, so don’t assume they are purposely withholding funds. Be nice but firm.
  1. Keep your receipts– Unless the IRS shuts down its doors tomorrow, you have to hold on to your receipts for at least 7 years. So, take advantage of free/low cost storage via Google Drive or Dropbox, invest in a cheapo scanner (or snap pics with your smart phone) and start saving your receipts. If the IRS ever comes a’knocking then you will have proof readily available.
  1. Back it up– Do you enjoy spending hours rebuilding your accounting spreadsheets or program? I didn’t think so. Spend five minutes a week backing up your information. You. Are. Welcome.
  1. Money Honey– Here is the rule, if it doesn’t make you money, then you shouldn’t be doing it. Spend time on things that bring in the bacon and find people to outsource the things you don’t love. Hate tracking your finances? Hire a bookkeeper. I happen to know a great one.

Extreme Ethics: How Holding The Line Will Win You Clients

Ethics doesn’t seem like a sexy word. For some, it means to have an incredible amount of self discipline, and self discipline takes work. However, what if I told you that by cultivating an ethical life and an ethical business, you could attract and retain more clients? It’s true!

When we know we are doing the right thing for our clients, we are happier and we shine. When we shine, we are more attractive for our clients and they look forward to working with us. When we have doubt about how fairly and ethically we are treating our clients, it shows. No one wants a snake oil salesman; we like working with people who have our best interests in mind.

Ethical companies are stronger, last longer and have clients that evangelize on their behalf. When we run our business ethically, we have a stronger sense of commitment to our clients and they see it in our work. We also tend to make less risky decisions, ultimately affecting our clients. Instead of putting our immediate needs (like cashflow) first, we take a long term approach to our business. This will put us ahead of the pack and when the shortsighted companies, out to make a quick buck, fall away; the strong and ethical companies will be left standing.

So while many don’t think Ethics are sexy, I beg to differ.  Ethical companies are hot.

So what is our commitment to our clients?

  • We are radically ethical. We will always be honest, open and transparent.
  • We are brutally honest. If we don’t know something or make a mistake, we will own up to it.
  • We have crazy consideration. We are on your team and will always consider your needs.

Are you looking for an ethical bookkeeping company? Give us a holler; we are ready to  show you what we are made of.

Guest Post: Drowning in Choices

Our Guest Blogger today is  Eric Matthews, owner of That Bookkeeper, based in Albert, Canada. He is a bookkeeper, tax preparer, small business consultant, husband, dad, music junkie, and all around tech enthusiast. He started working as a bookkeeper when he was 14, and has been doing it in one form or another ever since. He has worked with a wide range of clients; such as retail owners, service contractors, web designers, and mechanics. We are glad that he was kind enough to do a Guest Blog on our site.

Drowning in Choices

One of the great things the internet has given us is choice.

One of the worst things the internet has given us…is choice.

Instead of limiting ourselves to the two department stores our small town had to offer us as kids, we now have the world at our disposal. On the other hand, we would have taken a long time to finish our shopping if those department stores had 400 different versions of everything we needed.

Both of these extremes are very true in the world of bookkeeping.

Not long ago, if you were starting up a small business, you could pick between 2-3 accounting applications, which would run on the dusty computer in your back office. And, for the most part, it did the job.

Fast forward to today, and you’ve got 3 web apps for every specialized industry you can imagine. Does your business sell vegan paperclips, but only on the 3rd Tuesday of every month? Someone out there probably made a bookkeeping app just for you.

So, what is an entrepreneur to do? Should you just close your eyes and point at a random link on the screen? Probably not. My advice might take a bit longer, but will produce much better results.

Talk to a professional.

People who do bookkeeping and accounting every day know the industry. They also work with a wide range of people and businesses. Their expertise will allow them to do one of two things.

  1. Recommend the best product for your situation – If you plan to do your own bookkeeping, they can help you find the right suite of applications for your situation. That might mean software running on that dusty computer, or it might mean running your business from your smartphone.
  2. Take the work off your hands – An even better solution would be to stop worrying about bookkeeping entirely. After all, you didn’t want to be an entrepreneur because of all the fun paperwork, did you? Unless you’re a bookkeeper, then the answer is probably no. All the time you would have spent choosing, setting up, and working with new software could have been used to grow your new business.

With all the choices available to you, the best decision is to start with someone who can guide you, and who has your best interests in mind. Since you’re reading this here, it looks like you’ve already made that first step.

Eric Matthews
Owner, That Bookkeeper
www.thatbookkeeper.com

Fixed Rate Payroll Service

Time and time again, we have heard the same old complaint about Payroll.

“We want to use a reputable service, but they all seem to nickel and dime their clients.”

Payroll companies are often accused of using the old bait and switch technique. They  advertise a low rate and then add on charges for W2s, 1099s, Time Tracking and Direct Deposits. You start out thinking that you are saving money and when the invoice comes, you realized that you have forked over more than you expected. In the end, you get a bum deal and the payroll company just shrugs and moves on to the next person. Ouch! That isn’t any way to do business.

At Accountingprose, we take pride in being honest and transparent. This is why we switched from an hourly billing rate to fixed rate bookkeeping. For the Small Business Owner, it just makes sense. You know how much you will spend each month on professional services and budgeting is a no brainer.

This month we have also updated our fixed rate schedule to include fixed rates for Stand Alone Payroll. We recognize that some business owners already have a bookkeeper or just need a little extra help cutting checks to their employees. So, we came up with pricing that is fair and fixed.

But wait, there’s more. Check out our fancy schmancy flyer which details what our fixed rate payroll is all about.

Ready to take the plunge? Give us a call at 866-477-9708 and let us know how we can help you.

Cristina Garza | Chief Number Cruncher
cristina@accountingprose.com
530 E. McDowell Rd., Ste 107491, Phoenix, AZ 85004
o. 866-477-9708  |  c. 480-359-6149 | f. 866-611-6989

Networking: The Power of Radical Generosity

I had a conversation with a friend the other day about networking. They wondered what I got out of spending so much time with new friends and business associates. To be frank, I thought they were kidding. I mean, I don’t really get anything. Usually, I buy my new associate coffee or a meal and just spend most of my time listening. I don’t give them a sales pitch, I don’t ask for their business and I don’t (usually) leave them with any sales flyers/literature. Instead of getting anything from networking, I do the exact opposite- I give.

I have found that networking is more about generosity rather than gaining any sort of immediate reward. I often hear my new associates’ troubles in the conversation. Maybe they are having a hard time getting health insurance or maybe their website stinks. When I hear these things, I do what comes naturally for me;  I connect them with people I know and trust. I make sure that they have someone they can rely on when the going gets tough. The beauty of networking is that when you need help, all you have to do is extend your hand. If you have built your network properly, there will always be someone there to help you.

So the next time you get invited to a “boring” networking function, go. Try to meet as many interesting people as possible and learn all about them. Find out what makes them happy; learn about their business and then try to connect the dots. Your new friend will be happy to have met you and the cycle will continue. More selfless networking leads to a mindset of abundance vs scarcity; which is a pretty cool place to be.

Interested in networking with us? Join us at:

CoHoots

Local First

Fuerza Local

Cristina Garza

Owner, Accountingprose

Fishbowl Inventory Rocks!

If you are a manufacturer, wholesaler or if you manage a lot of fixed assets, you probably have the same complaint about Quickbooks. It just isn’t robust enough to handle your complicated needs. As a wholesaler with multiple warehouses, you want to know how many widgets you have in stock and you need to know where they are located. As a manufacturer, you may want to edit an assembly on the fly. If you handle many fixed assets, you are required to know where your assets are at all times.

I believe that Fishbowl Inventory will handle all of these issues with ease. Some key features include:

Multiple Location and Sub Location Tracking– 360 degree view of your inventory and fixed assets. This is great when you are handling a lot of items across multiple warehouses. You can track your inventory down to the bin.

Barcode Scanning– Effortless, no data entry order fulfillment.

Clean Sweep Order Fulfillment– Fishbowl will guide you through your warehouse in a quick and efficient manner. No running back and forth between aisles, wasting time.

Manufacturing Option Groups– Create custom assemblies on the fly. This feature actually made me smile from ear to ear.

Daisy Chain Several Bill of Materials– If you require multiple assemblies for your final product, this will act as your build guide.

UPS Integration– Accurately quote shipping for your customers. No more guessing or call backs.

Quickbooks Reconciliation– No need to enter data twice. At end of your day simply reconcile and all of your revenue and costs will post to your books.

True Cost Reporting– Apply shipping and handling at the time of item receipt  for more accurate financial statements.

Affordability– Only pay for the licenses you need.

Check out this video with additional highlights…

https://youtu.be/bzPCgpIH_Ac

As a Quickbooks Pro Advisor it, at first, pained me to know that all of this functionality is not readily available in Quickbooks. However, after considering the “limitations” of the product, I also realize that Quickbooks is not one size fits all. It really is a base accounting program that allows you to customize it for your very specific business needs. If Quickbooks was built with this functionality it would be too robust for the average user and the cost would be multiplied ten-fold. So, integrating add-ons is the best way to create a custom fit product.  

If you have a need for this type of functionality, I implore you to contact Fishbowl, get a customized demo and run a free trial for 14 days. You will see how Fishbowl will save you time, money and headaches. If you are not satisfied with their functionality, let me know. As your trusted advisor I will work directly with Fishbowl to find a solution that fits your needs. I only recommend products I genuinely think are useful for your business.

—  

Cristina Garza | Chief Number Cruncher

Accountingprose

530 E. McDowell Rd., Ste 107491, Phoenix, AZ 85004

o. 480-359-6149 | f. 866-611-6989

www.accountingprose.com