Five excellent Small Business Accounting Apps You Should Be Using!

The time has not only come but we are way past it!

I’m speaking of going paperless, of course. As an accountant, you have to have all your financial records in order and easily retrievable.

Additionally, you need access to forms, sometimes at a moment’s notice. Last. and certainly not least, productivity. The old days of crammed filing cabinets and overflowing in-trays are becoming a dusty memory. Most of your client’s financial records should be online now and accessible from any device.apps_jfw_accounting

So, if you are migrating your data to the cloud, here are Five excellent Small Business Accounting Apps you should load to your devices:

  1. Quickbooks Online: I admit that I have a bias to Quickbooks (we offer it as service in my firm)  However, it is a popular and respected accounting program. And if you use it, you should download this app. This newest version is as good as it gets. You can create and send invoices, get estimates immediately, mark invoices as paid and see customer balances. It’s new, upgraded intuitive Dashboard is incredible.
  2. Tsheets: The time card machine is so 20th Century. Using this incredibly thorough app you can track employee hours. Whether it’s your iPhone or Android, you can use text and dial-in options and clock in. Then, get to work with just the click of a button. You can also switch jobs, locations and tasks. For employees, this time tracking app helps you keep an eye on all your employees time (and effort). But there’s more: you can approve timesheets and see detailed and real-time reports of labor expenses including regular time, overtime, vacation and PTO.
  3. Bill.com: Is a key bill payment application. It streamlines your payments and also eliminates manual and paper-based business bill payment and invoicing processes. It also provides ACH payment to help grow your business. You can also share an estimate, a purchase order or any supporting document. Of course, you can pay bills on the go and even see why payment is being held up and who is doing it. It can also be integrated with Quickbooks Online and your desktop!
  4. Adobe EchoSign: Virtual signatures are not “James Bond” anymore. Now, you can send a document to be e-signed, keep track of the document’s progress, store it in the cloud, collect multiple signatures and send email alerts to signatories. It even works with many leading business systems such as Sales Force and Ariba.
  5. Google Docs: This free app is still one of the best and it’s certainly taken for granted being part of the whole Google structure. Yet, its features and ease of use cannot be denied. Perhaps, its most used and popular feature is the document sharing. You can create a document (Word, spreadsheet, charts, etc) then share it with whomever you designate. No more need to print (some) documents. You can also access it from any device and anywhere as long as you remember your Google access codes. It’s so easy to use and it can be adapted to most any accountant’s workflow.

These are only five and there are more accountants’ apps being developed or upgraded every month. Use any of these apps and be amazed at how your client service improves, production increases and maybe, get a few more hours with the spouse and kids at home (but I’m not promising that one.)

Non-profit or Small Business Budgeting for the Fiscal Year in Five Easy Steps

When you just say this word, it is sure to clear the room.

Just mentioning the dreaded topic sends staff members, executive directors and CEOs running for the exits.

But before your colleagues or bosses plug their ears and curl up in the fetal position on the couch in the lobby, have your reasoning ready. The steps for doing it are pretty simple but for many it is as scary as a snake pit and even more hazardous.

The topic we’re speaking of? Budgeting, of course. office_budgeting

Now before you close out this blog page thinking this topic is too traumatic, please consider this from an experienced accountant: You can create a reasonable, practical and understandable budget for your non-profit organization or small business. There are several steps you have to take to get there, however.

So, here are Five Steps to Budgeting for your Non-profit Organization or Small Business:

  1. Admit you need to budget and create a “budget committee”: The first step to creating a real budget is admitting that you need it. Usually, the payroll manager, staff accountant, executive secretary or even the CEO/Executive Director make the first move and say it’s time to create a budget for the fiscal year. Once that first big step is taken, appoint a “budget committee”. This committee should include department heads, head accountant/financial officer and board chair. They need to have the statements from the last year (three preferably) and access to all relevant financials.
  2. Estimate costs or income required to meet your profit objective/goal.: Using the previous year’s expense or budget as a starting point, begin reviewing each line item and see if any item can be added or deleted. Of course, last year’s budget is only one factor in crafting this new budget. If there are new employees to be hired, new programs or activities or new equipment or inventory to be purchased, then estimate the costs using an itemized list of all the expenses involved in reaching those goals. Also, don’t be conservative in your cost estimates. Research actual costs (including freight or maintenance) and err on the side of it costing more if you don’t have an exact amount.
  3. Estimate the amount of revenue and the dates when it will be generated: What is your expected income this fiscal year? Do you expect a 5% rise in revenues? This can be very difficult to estimate as there are so many factors: sales, donations, competition and even the economy. This is where your department heads and fundraising team can give you objective (hopefully) revenue estimates using the customer or donor base as their guide. In this case, it’s better to be conservative on revenue estimates. Overestimating revenues could be disastrous. Also, set a timeline for cash flow based on donor events, sales and holiday events.
  4. Compare the estimated revenue to the estimated expenses along with the timeline. Once the raw figures have been entered onto the budget spreadsheet, compare the revenue and expense estimates. Do they match? What is the projected profit? For the non-profit budget: do the expenses and revenues zero out? Make sure all figures add up correctly. (A misplaced comma or decimal point can play havoc with your budget and cause some hurt feelings, too.) Please note: Non-profits need to stay within their program allocated costs. Make sure your budget items do not exceed the exact money allotted to certain programs based on specific allocations (grants, scholarships, donations) for each program.
  5. Develop the final budget: Now that everyone has signed off on the draft, develop the final working budget. Double-check all figures. Once that is done, you can then submit it to the board, CEO/Executive Director or other recognized authority for approval.

Now you see, budgeting isn’t that bad! Five steps and you’re there!

If you are intimidated by the process and need guidance, JFW Accounting Services LLC can help you from beginning to end. We will even help you monitor it during the year. Please give us a call (301) 684-3932 or send a message to info@jfwaccountingservices.com if you need more information.

Six Ways You, Your Company or Non-profit Organization can Prepare for Tax Season in 2015

Few things cause more stress than filing your personal, business or non-profit organization tax return, and even fewer things give more relief than getting your refund check. Spend time planning out your tax return so you can limit your stress and get your refund check as soon as possible. tax_calculator_JFWAccounting

Here are Six Ways You, Your Company or Non-profit Organization can Prepare for Tax Season in 2015:

  1. Gather your family’s personal information. You need to know the social security numbers of everyone claimed on your return. This includes you, your spouse, and all of your children and other dependents. For the fastest refund, know the routing and account numbers for your checking account so that the IRS can directly deposit your money into the bank.
  2. Organize all of your income forms. Depending on the type of work you do and the investments you have, you could receive several different income forms. An employer will send you a W-2 form, but other income, like that received from investments, property sales, or contract work, will be sent to you on one of the many types of 1099 form. The exact income from all of these forms will be reported on your tax return, so keep them all together.
  3. Be meticulous in finding deductions. Don’t pay the government more than required. Spend extra time paying close attention to the types of deductions that you are allowed to take, and claim as many as possible. Child care costs, home business expenses, and large medical bills are examples of possible deductions you can claim. Watch the mail for 1098 forms, which will report interest payments you can deduct. Record any moving expenses, charitable giving, and work related expenses that were not reimbursed by your employer. Even if itemizing your allowed deductions does not exceed the standard deduction, some expenses, like a school teacher’s out-of-pocket expenses for classroom supplies, can be added on top of the standard deduction.
  4. If you need it, pay for advice. The instructions that accompany IRS forms are not going to win awards for clarity and leave many people scratching their heads. Get help if you need it. Hiring someone to prepare your entire tax return is not your only option, though. You can pay tax professionals for advice in how to correctly prepare your own return. Just giving advice takes less of the tax professional’s time, which translates to a lower fee for the service. Save the receipt, because any amount you pay for tax preparation can be used as a deduction for next year’s tax return.
  5. Business Books Reconciliations: Be sure to reconcile your ending cash balance with the checking account balance on your final 2014 bank statement so that you have all of your cash transactions in your accounting records.
  6. Create a Budget for the New Year: Now is the time to do it! You have your income and expenses numbers from last year right in front of you, so all your questions are answered. Sit down with your staff and create a 2015 budget. You will not regret it.

No one can guarantee a stress-free tax season, but these steps will help you prepare for what you’re going to face. It’s the job of the IRS to catch your mistakes and make you pay for them, so the time spent planning ahead and preparing your tax return correctly will always be worth the investment.

Our CPA (Certified Public Accountant) Advice: Spouse Deductions for Business Trips

Show that there is a business reason for why your spouse accompanied you on a business trip and you can deduct the cost of his or her trip.
Here’s what to do if your spouse travels with you to a business meeting, a convention, or other business event.
  • Make sure your spouse understands your job responsibilities.
  • See that your spouse discusses the event’s general business purpose with other spouses who attend. Be sure that spouses are invited to business event functions such as dinners and seminars.
  • Have all your meals with business colleagues and bring your spouse. Be sure that business is discussed at these meals and that your spouse takes part in the discussions.
  • Have your spouse write you a memo with business suggestions based on information gained at the business event.

Financial Accounting Advice: IRS Form 911

There is now a written procedure to request the IRS to stop imminent action. If you expect the IRS to commence imminent action against you, you can apply to stop that action if it will cause serious hardship.
To get emergency help, use Form 911. It’s called Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order. Complete the form and send it to your local Taxpayer Advocate Office. For the address of the Taxpayer Advocate Office in your area, call the National Taxpayer Advocate toll free number 1-877-777-4778.
A Form 911 application is given top priority by the Taxpayer Advocate Office. All enforcement action is halted while your application is being reviewed. The IRS states that most taxpayers can expect action on a Form 911 application within one day.

Payroll and Cashflow Problems: Business Success that Leads to Failure

There are times when a rapidly growing business is so successful that it suddenly finds itself in real trouble. As one success follows another, management becomes too risk-oriented and before long, the company discovers that its growth has outstripped its financial resources. The result is a negative cash flow position that makes it virtually impossible to operate.

In the glow of success, some growthminded entrepreneurs tend to create their own cash flow problems. They offer overly generous credit to customers who don’t deserve it. They fail to realize that current expenses – such as payroll – won’t wait and are sometimes payable before sufficient receivables have been collected.

The faster the growth, the greater the cash shortfall, and the “successful” company may soon find that it can’t pay its bills. If the business is not able to get additional financing, it may be forced to close its doors.

Rapidly growing companies should take steps to prevent this situation before it happens. The impact of extended credit terms should be carefully measured against expenses before credit is granted.

Cash flow projections should be reviewed constantly. Receivables should be closely monitored and strong collection procedures should be consistently enforced. Payment schedules should be negotiated with vendors. And additional sources of capital should be explored before a cash crunch hits, so that operating funds are available when they’re needed. Without these safeguards, rapid success can mean unexpected failure.

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