Small Business Owners: Wondering What It Will Entail to Get Organized?

You have registered your company. You have found the perfect, cozy spot to serve your customers. You have hired your staff. You have stocked up the shelves. You have put up the signs. And you are now open for business.

After a grueling period of working towards your business launch, the dust has finally settled. Now what? While you can still afford to sit back, and before you get fully occupied with customer-servicing, you can spend some time setting up some housekeeping procedures to set everything in motion when it comes to record-keeping.

Bank and Credit Card Statements. For small businesses, bank and credit card statements serve as the cornerstone for record-keeping. It is therefore imperative to maintain these two accounts separate from your personal account.

  • Corporate or business bank account

Open a separate bank account for your business. Use this for all business banking. Try to avoid using a personal account for business transactions as this practice increases the risk of items being overlooked.

  • Corporate or business credit card

Obtain a separate credit card to be used exclusively for your business (it can be a personal card, but different from the card you use for personal transactions). Use monthly statement as a way to keep track of expenses to be supported by slips with details of the expense (like name of the client, description of the item and so on). Slips should be filed regularly in files preferably by expense type. This will facilitate accounting based on the credit card monthly statements.

Cash transactions. All items paid for in cash are to be receipted and receipts kept. Ideally, expenses paid out-of pocket or personally should be summarized and reimbursed by the company by way of an expense report. The form should show detailed description of the expense. There should be separate envelopes or folders where items paid for in cash should be kept to facilitate accounting.

Home-office expenses. Personally paid items such as rent or home mortgage, interest, utilities, insurance, repairs, property taxes, condo fees, etc. should be tallied or at least closely estimated to allow proper calculation of business use of home/rent expense. Home office space should be calculated at the start of the business.

Vehicle usage. Car usage should be tracked to identify and collect information on all business-related trips. You should be able to calculate/estimate the business use percentage and total kilometres driven.

Vehicle-related expenses. All car expenses including loan interest, lease payment, car depreciation or capital cost allowance, gas, repairs, insurance license, CAA etc. are deductible expenses but need to be pro-rated based on the percentage of business use. It is therefore important to track all costs of car operations. Parking is generally 100% deductible.

Telephone and communication expenses. Long distance phone should be tracked to allocate claims. Separate business phone line, cellphone, internet bills are all deductible. Bills for home phone lines are not claimable.

Document-keeping. All source documents should be filed according to expense type or supplier reference to facilitate location should questions arise or if bank and credit card records are not sufficient. This need not be filed as a monthly breakdown; yearly filing is fine.

Corporate year-end. Determining fiscal year-end for corporation is flexible during the first year of operations as no pre-setting of fiscal year-end is required until the first tax returns are filed. This decision depends on profitability and the possibility that income from employment or other sources will come back into earnings in the near future.

Unincorporated entities’ year-end. For sole proprietorship, self-employed, and partnerships, it’s a calendar year-end: December 31st. If you are an eligible individual, you may be able to use an alternative method of reporting your business income that allows you to use a fiscal period other than calendar year-end, but you will have to make a reconciliation of business income for tax purposes to calculate the amount to report in your year-end personal tax return.

Corporate earnings. It makes sense to leave surplus income in the corporation. It provides an opportunity to pay lower tax rates (approximately 15.5% for income eligible for small business deduction generally up to $500,000) on the taxable income while it remains in the company’s books. Personal taxes will only be imposed and payable when funds are actually paid to the owner/s in the form of dividends and/or salary. Tax rates are so designed to ensure equitable taxation across the different business structures (corporation, sole proprietorship or partnership) so that the total corporate plus personal taxes never exceed regular personal taxes.

Incorporation versus unincorporated business structure. In deciding whether to incorporate or to remain unincorporated, from a taxation standpoint, considerations need to be made with regard to the possibility of short-term losses (which favours unincorporated structure), size of business, family ownership, income splitting, estate planning and other considerations.

Year-end preparation. By using the above suggestions, accounting and bookkeeping costs can be minimized at year-end. Organize your year-end documents as early as possible. This will give ample time to plan ahead and ensure that total corporate and personal tax burden are minimized. This will also allow the most time possible to plan for the use of taxes recoverable or to ensure that funds will be available to cover the taxes payable on due date.

Small Business Bookkeeping Outsourcing Provides Respite From Workload

Outsourcing small business bookkeeping has become one of the most common practices when it comes to handling the bookkeeping tasks at a lesser cost. Small business bookkeeping is fundamental bookkeeping. It is recording of the usual transactions, how much you owe from your creditors, and how much is owed to you. Record keeping of equipment and inventory is also maintained.Basically, bookkeeping encompasses recording of the accounts payable and accounts receivable; preparation of financial statements, income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement and bank reconciliation statement, too. Small business owners have benefit from this service a lot such that it has enabled them to save several thousands of dollars, which they could use on other pertinent matters pertaining to the growth of their businesses.

Because bookkeeping is the process of keeping tabs of the revenues, profits and losses, as well as records of finances of a business, it is a quite crucial task that needs to be focused on. During tax sessions, the most minor of negligence caused by overloading of bookkeeping tasks could already cause major problems for a business. This is because even a single account not tallying to other financial records could already mean a lot when it comes to expenditures or the losses that a business could incur. As such, outsourcing small business bookkeeping service could be quite a big help during these times. It will enable your business to save some quality time and can also save you some money. In fact, you could be more efficient in handling your small business if you would avail of this outsourced bookkeeping service.

Benefits of Small Business Bookkeeping Outsourcing

There are actually a great number of benefits. Not only will you be able to deal away with such things as providing bonuses, sick leave payments and health insurance, among other perks, you could also cut down on the cost of paying high monthly salaries. This is because with outsourcing people for the bookkeeping tasks of your business, you would be transferring the responsibilities to an outsourcing firm or a freelancer, which you would only have to pay with an hourly rate. Because you would only be hiring the services of an outsourced small business bookkeeping for a short period of time, then this would mean greats savings on your part. The money that you would have spent on an in-house bookkeeper, you could already use for other profit-generating ventures within your business.

Because outsourcing small business bookkeeping services could make you handle your company with more efficiency, better work quality can also be attained. This is because while you and your staff handle all the other aspects of your business, the outsourcing firm that you have tasked to handle your bookkeeping will do this in a more specialized manner. As they are not handling other tasks aside from the bookkeeping task assigned to them, you are guaranteed that they are more efficient in handling the financial matters of your business.

Once you have availed of an outsourced small business bookkeeping service, you will find that you have gotten yourself a real respite from an excessive workload that could only result in problems for your company. You have to remember that too much workload, especially in small businesses, could lead to negligence on certain matters that could mean much for the soundness of your business in the long run. So, if you want to escape from these problems and save money and time as well, go for outsourcing small business bookkeeping services.

Choosing the Best Business Banking Partner

Establishing a business banking account is one of the first things company owners need to do. These accounts are vital for obtaining accurate accounting data and keeping track of allowed tax deductions.

When business owners mix business banking along with individual accounts they will likely end up undergoing an IRS audit. The time spent clarifying expenses and providing adequate documentation can be grueling and may lead to late fees and penalties, so it’s best to start things off on the right foot.

There are quite a few ways to setup a business bank account. Owners can apply online or visit banks in-person. They can select a basic checking account or apply for accounts that include merchant services, direct deposit payroll, or an open line of credit.

Many banks offer accounts that can be connected to accounting software programs such as Peachtree or QuickBooks. Interconnecting accounting software with business accounts help managers conserve time while providing adequate documentation for tax records. Additionally, this method lets business owners access their account from various locations such as work, home, and even while traveling.

Fees associated with corporate checking accounts are usually quite a bit more expensive than personal bank accounts. The majority of banks charge companies a monthly service fee. Some charge fees for every transaction, while others charge if transactions exceed a set number. Fees are also assessed for overdrafts and electronic transfers.

Although it’s never a good idea to bounce a check, companies can avoid expensive fees by setting up overdraft protection. This involves connecting business checking accounts to a savings account or credit card. If overdraft occurs, banks automatically transfer a preset amount of money into the checking account.

It can be very helpful to comparison shop banks to find ones that offer the most benefits and assess the lowest fees. A trusted source for comparing banks is BankRate.com, which offers information about national and local banks.

Small business owners may find it advantageous to open accounts with local banks or credit unions. Local banks tend to be more flexible and willing to work with owners that don’t have pristine credit. This can be very helpful to owners that require working capital or want to apply for business credit cards.

On the other hand, national banks usually offer a broader range of services than local banks. National banks engage in lending practices for small business to Fortune 500 companies, along with providing a variety of credit card options. Additionally, national banks offer integrated accounting services such as invoicing systems and direct deposit payroll.

The best approach for locating the right bank is to create a list of anticipated financial needs for the short and long term. While it can be challenging to determine what services will be required in the next 5 years, most owners can figure out if they will need business loans or credit cards. Spending time assessing overall needs can help owners avoid having to switch banks at a later time.

When comparing banks it’s important to read the fine print and calculate the true costs of conducting business. Make certain to fully understand the fee structure and checking account requirements.

Some banks charge service fees if balances fall below a certain limit. Others set limits on the number of transactions that can be conducted each month and charge hefty fees if limits are exceeded. Over the course of a year, banking fees can cost owners hundreds of dollars.

Researching available options lets owners find cost-effective business banking and can help determine which bank would be the best partnership. One consideration is that local banks frequently participate in community events where local companies are promoted. Acquiring bank endorsement can be very beneficial, so when talking to banks be certain to inquire about the types of promotional activities they participate in.