Our Favorite QuickBooks Features for Small Businesses

QuickBooks for small business is your small business’ secret weapon. No matter what industry you’re in, bookkeeping is part and parcel of keeping the lights on, satisfying customers, and ensuring paychecks get where they’re going—including to you. But proper bookkeeping is about more than just taking care of the basics. It means thinking long-term too, from budgeting for taxes, to contingency planning for unexpected ups and downs, to laying the foundation for future growth and expansion. These tasks can seem overwhelming, but with the proper QuickBooks training, you have everything you need to handle your bookkeeping right at your fingertips.

Here at Steiner Business Solutions, we train small businesses on how to get the most out of QuickBooks, from the basics of setting up to the more intricate ins and outs of what the program can do. But we don’t just train other businesses on how to use QuickBooks, we also use it ourselves. Steiner Business Solutions has been here in Richmond, VA since 2006 helping small business owners tackle the financial aspects of their business. And throughout that time, we’ve used QuickBooks to take care of our own finances. As we’ve helped other businesses find their footing and grow, QuickBooks has been an integral part of our own growth and success.

Our experience with QuickBooks is why we’re so passionate about helping other business owners add this powerful tool to their toolbox. Here are some of our favorite QuickBooks features for small businesses.

Connect Banking and Credit Accounts to QuickBooks

To manage your small business effectively, it’s imperative that you keep track of money going in and money going out. You also need to know what’s what so you can gain insight into the how and why behind your bottom line. To do that, it’s helpful to classify transactions, splitting them into categories like “Supplies,” “Transportation,” “Marketing,” and more. Looking through bank and credit card statements is time-consuming, and manual entry leaves the door wide open for errors. To skip the hassle and headache, you can connect QuickBooks to both your bank and credit card accounts. When a transaction is processed, it will show up in QuickBooks. You can even set up rules that allow QuickBooks to classify transactions appropriately. Less time, less error, and more insight are a few clicks away.

Email Client Invoices Directly from QuickBooks

As is the case with banking and credit card transactions, it’s important to have your invoices easily accessible in one place. Emailing invoices to clients directly from QuickBooks keeps those invoices with the rest of your small business’ financial information in QuickBooks.

Remember and Automate Recurring Transactions

There are regular transactions that come up for your business on a known, repeatable basis, such as monthly service fees charged to your customers. QuickBooks can memorize these in order to help streamline your operations. Whether you set up reminders to make sure you don’t forget about these transactions, or simply have QuickBooks create them automatically based off of a saved template, this is a great feature to have at your disposal. You can even set up QuickBooks to send out recurring invoices automatically.

Customize QuickBooks Reports

Pre-created reports are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the reporting capabilities of QuickBooks. You can customize these reports to see exactly what you want to see, exactly how you want to see it. Once you’ve saved a report, you can check into it whenever you want to see up-to-the-minute data, or even set up a recurring date to compile and email the report, such as the first of each month. If you need to work with the data in Microsoft Excel, simply export the data from the report straight into an Excel file.

Those are some of our favorite QuickBooks features here at Steiner Business Solutions. If you’d like to learn more about them, or discover a few of your own favorites, give us a call at 804.525.4259.

 

5 Reasons Why You Should Outsource Your Small Business Accounting

Another tax season has come and gone, and as always, it feels like—despite all odds—a mountain has been moved. Maybe you had the nice surprise of a hefty refund, or maybe you had to write some checks you weren’t planning on writing. No matter which way your return ended up, there’s a good chance that the process of putting your taxes together exposed all the cracks and holes in your small business accounting practices. One way to shore up those holes before next tax season comes around is to outsource your small business accounting. And the benefits go beyond a less stressful tax filing.

1. Save Money

Whether you hire an internal accountant or accounting team, or you outsource the accounting for your small business, there’s a price tag attached. For a small business, bringing on a new

employee is no small decision. Their salary, benefits, and other monetary concerns have a serious impact on the bottom line. That cost typically overshadows what you would pay to an outside accounting firm.

This is especially true if you’re one of the many small businesses that finds itself in that undefined space where accounting takes too much of your time to handle on your own, but there’s not quite enough to do to keep a full-time employee busy. Hiring someone to sit idly by for a good chunk of the work week is an investment that simply doesn’t deliver.

2. Save Time

When you outsource your small business accounting, you’re contracting a firm to apply their expertise. That means you can get back to applying your expertise—running your business. And when your accounting is running smoothly, the rest of your business operations follow suit. Accurate, up-to-date financials allow you to assess scenarios and make decisions quickly.

3. Reduce Risk

Unfortunately, internal fraud is a reality for many small businesses. The consequences of falling victim to internal theft can cut the legs out from under your business and stop you in your tracks. And implementing overzealous safeguards can erode employee trust and morale. An independent accountant provides an impartial system of checks and balances that you can rely on.

4. Adapt on the Fly

Nothing provides flexibility quite like an outsourced accounting team. If you have seasonal highs and lows, they can increase or decrease resources on their end to help you roll with the punches. And if your accounting needs surge, they’re ready and waiting to provide the assistance you need. If you keep your accounting in-house, a sudden increase in need can necessitate a new hire, but even at its most efficient, the process of interviewing, waiting out a new hire’s two-week notice, and getting them up to speed takes time you may not have.

5. Learn from the Best

Your outsourced accounting firm provides your small business with an incredible resource of knowledge and experience. Rather than searching all over for the right accounting software, you can take confidence in the fact that they’ve done their homework and have the best tools available at their fingertips. Plus, they know how to take full advantage of those tools for your business.

The benefits go beyond using the right software. An experienced accounting team can provide you with proven best practices to streamline operations, benchmark financial performance, and position your business for growth and success. And come next year’s tax season, not only can you take confidence in the fact that you’ve met all regulatory requirements, you can also reap the rewards of an experienced team that knows how to maximize deductions and returns for your business.

If outsourcing your accounting seems like it might be the right choice for your small business, call Steiner Business Solutions here in Richmond, VA at 804.525.4259 to learn more about our accounting services.

Getting Started with QuickBooks – Setting It Up Correctly

We’ve told you about QuickBooks a number of times here at Steiner Business Solutions. There’s a good reason for that. Bookkeeping is the bedrock underneath any business. Do it right, and you’ve got a strong foundation you can count on. But without it, shifts and shakes can rock your business when you least expect them.

Of course, as a business owner, you’ve got more than your fair share of plates in the air, and bookkeeping has a way of swallowing time in a big way. QuickBooks takes out a lot of the hassle without skimping on quality. Simply put, it allows you to get your books in order, so you have time to dedicate to other business tasks.

The key to using QuickBooks to its fullest is setting it up correctly, right from the beginning. Like just about everything concerning your business, investing a little time, energy, and focus up front will pay major dividends in the long run. We’ll say right off the bat: If you need some help, we’ve got the expertise needed for getting started with QuickBooks. But if you’re looking to dive in as soon as you finish this article, we’ve assembled some tips to help you get started on the right foot.

Set Your Company Preferences

Before jumping into the included tutorials, head over to your company settings. Enter in your company name and contact information, your logo, your website information—all the basics. This information will be reflected across your reports, customer invoices, and tax returns. While this may sound like an obvious first step, many users jump right into trying to figure out the nuts and bolts of QuickBooks. Seeing your company information reflected in front of you is exciting and empowering, and it helps QuickBooks feel a little more welcoming. You can breathe a sigh of relief; rather than a new software to learn, this is a tool to help your business.

Link Up Your Financial Accounts

Have you lost track of all the websites you have to log into to check the financial information for your business? Make that a thing of the past by funneling it all into QuickBooks. Have your login info ready, and link up the bank and credit card accounts for your business, along with any other relevant financial accounts. This way, your business’ financial picture is consolidated and clear, ready for you to check quickly and easily. To further streamline your finances, connect QuickBooks with your payroll software. One of the major benefits of QuickBooks is that it’s been the preeminent bookkeeping tool in the business world for a long time. It’s an industry standard, and that means just about every third-party business-related software plays well with it. So whatever payroll software you’re using, there’s a good chance it will link up without a hitch.

Enter in Your Customers and Vendors

Last but not least, go ahead and enter in the information for all of your existing customers and vendors. If you’ve got that information stored in a spreadsheet, QuickBooks makes it easy to bring it all in in a snap. You’ll map the data QuickBooks looks for to the cells in your spreadsheet, and then get a chance to review the data before all is said and done. Once this is set up, you can track your expenses, items, and more by customer and vendor.

Start Learning!

Remember those tutorials we told you to skip past at the beginning? Now’s the time to dive in. QuickBooks is a powerful tool, and it can do a lot for your business. When we sit down with our clients in and around Richmond, VA for one-on-one QuickBooks training, the lament we hear most often is, “I wish I’d known about that feature sooner! It would’ve saved me so much time and hassle!”

If you’ve got QuickBooks, you’ve got an excellent resource at your disposal. Make sure you’re making the most of it. And give us a call at 804-525-4259 if you’d like some help setting it up correctly.

Is QuickBooks Right for My Business?

In past posts, we’ve talked about how important “keeping the books” is for any business, new or established. By dealing with the financial aspects of your business on a consistent basis, you’ll save time and sanity, and be well prepared come tax time. Businesses that focus on tracking receipts, invoices, expenses and deductions save more money on their taxes than those businesses that leave it all for “crunch time” and often miss opportunities as they scramble to meet their deadlines. Saving time and saving money should be the only motivations you need to realize how important it is to stay on top of every aspect of your small business accounting.

So what’s the best way to do that? You can, of course, develop your own methods, using spreadsheets and the like to track everything. But to effectively manage the full breadth of your accounting needs, choosing an appropriate software system is paramount. And we use the word “appropriate” intentionally. It’s not just a matter of picking the best software; it’s about picking the best software for your business.

When it comes to accounting software, QuickBooks is far and away the most popular choice, serving more than 75 percent of the American small business market. And in past years, the largest area of growth for the software company has been QuickBooks Online (QBO), with many new users choosing it over QuickBooks Desktop. But how do you know if QuickBooks is right for your business? And which version should you choose?

Why Use QuickBooks?

Regardless of whether you were to choose the Desktop or the Online version, QuickBooks is a solution you can count on for the long-term. With more than 20 years on the market, it has a robust feature set, from basic accounting to handling invoicing, reporting, inventory tracking, and more. It connects to tens of thousands of financial institutions. And if your business relies on solutions like PayPal and Square to handle transactions, you’ll be glad to know that you can import financial data from these solutions straight into QuickBooks. With trustworthy data backup that promises bank-level security, there’s peace of mind that comes from using QuickBooks.

But QuickBooks’ biggest strength can also create a challenge for newer businesses. While it has a robust feature set that can replace many more expensive enterprise-level solutions, this can prove intimidating to new businesses that are just getting started. On Day One of your business, detailed reports, granular inventory tracking, and automated invoices may go a bit beyond what you’re looking to do, or what you can handle thinking about.

But with the right training, such as the QuickBooks training provided by Steiner Business Solutions, you can get started with the basics of QuickBooks now, and know that the rest of the features are there for your business to grow into.

Why Use QuickBooks Online?

Another way to keep QuickBooks from feeling overwhelming in the early days of your business is to check out QuickBooks Online. While QuickBooks Desktop requires a software purchase to get started, you can take advantage of a free 30-day trial with QuickBooks Online to check out the software before making a commitment.

And while its feature set is less robust than that of QuickBooks Desktop, QuickBooks Online has several strengths that make it ideal for many modern businesses. While QuickBooks Desktop is tethered to the computer it’s installed on—and only accessible from that computer—QuickBooks Online can be accessed anywhere there’s an internet connection. With remote access capability and the option for multiple people to access the books at the same time, many newer businesses find the program’s adaptability to be a great strength. And at the outset, these businesses often need less of the more detailed, customizable features available with QuickBooks Desktop.

Here at Steiner Business Solutions in Richmond, VA, we love this quote from a Fortune article written about Intuit, the company behind QuickBooks: “Since its founding, Intuit has done what every company today must learn to do, disrupting itself continuously, reinventing its products and its business model before any competitor can beat it to it.”

Give us a call today at 804.525.4259 and we can help you decide if QuickBooks is the right choice for your business.

6 Tips to Make Tax Time Easier for Your Business

The beginning of the year is marked by a few familiar occurrences: ambitious resolutions, discounts on gym memberships, and tax forms arriving in the mail. That last one can cause a bit of panic, especially for small business owners, as they signal the looming arrival of everyone’s least favorite time of year: tax time.

The next few months are often characterized by procrastination and a mad dash to file your return on time. But while that may be the norm, it doesn’t have to be. We’ve assembled some tips that will help you breathe a little easier when tax time comes around.

Plan All Year

The fact of the matter is, taxes are a concern year-round. It’s just that they fall off the list of concerns. To get a handle on your taxes, it’s important to first change your perception of them from “once-a-year annoyance” to “ongoing business concern.” As a small business owner, you’ve got a lot of ongoing business concerns, and they all get handled. Making taxes “part of the routine” helps take away their threatening air. Another benefit is that you’ll undoubtedly file your returns more competently. By rushing to file your taxes at the last minute, you’re bound to miss a few deductions. Keeping them in mind all year long will help you see the opportunities you might otherwise miss.

Prioritize Organization and Consistency

The key to getting your tax preparation efforts going is to create a consistent organizational system. Maintain receipts and keep on top of your business transactions, from income and expenses to retirement contributions and charitable donations. Organize by category, by month, or both—whatever works best for you. These records can be maintained in print or online. Increasingly, small business owners are turning to electronic applications. With this approach, you can start your day by taking a quick glance of all transactions and categorizing them accordingly, all while sipping your coffee. Whether you choose to preserve records in print or online, it’s important to maintain backups offsite.

Keep Separate Accounts

As a small business owner, it’s vital that you keep your personal finances and business finances separate. Rather than trying to do that on a transaction-by-transaction basis, we recommend maintaining a separate bank account for your business, along with a dedicated credit card. It makes organizing everything simpler and less time-consuming.

Set Deadlines

Keep important tax deadlines in your calendar, with accompanying advance notifications if possible. Local, state, and federal tax deadlines often seem like they’ve snuck up on us. But the truth is, these deadlines are set well in advance. By keeping them in your calendar like any other business appointment, you can deprive taxes of the element of surprise.

Use the Right Software

QuickBooks™ is a software application that allows you to streamline many aspects of the tax preparation and filing effort. The program can seem intimidating to learn, but it’s an incredible asset that will help you save valuable time. Steiner Business Solutions offers QuickBooks training to get you up-to-speed.

Consult a Tax Expert

Taxes are a critical part of any business, large or small. Working with a professional tax expert can help you get your bearings and ensure that you’ve got everything in order for tax time. For help with your small business taxes in and around Richmond, VA, contact Steiner Business Solutions at 804.525.4259.  And be sure to check out our list of Tax Breaks for Small Businesses.

Fact Sheet: Tax Breaks for Small Businesses

Knowing the right tax breaks to take for your small business can help ease the pain a bit come tax season and give you a leg-up on the competition. When we provide business consulting and tax planning services here at Steiner Business Solutions, one of our goals is to open the eyes of our clients to the world of available deductions they can take. We’ve rounded up a few here to help get you started on saving money come tax time.

Self-Employment Tax

If you’re self-employed, listen up. All employees, whether self-employed or employed by a business, pay Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes. But when you’re self-employed, you’re responsible for both pieces of the pie: the half paid by the employee, and the half typically paid by the business. This is known as the self-employment tax. While that may be discouraging, there is a bright spot. You can deduct the portion of your self-employment tax that an employer would typically pay.

Advertising

When you’ve got a small business, getting the word out is crucial. Advertising fees tend to add up quickly as you purchase ads in print and online, snag a few radio spots, print business cards, and create an eye-catching website. Some businesses also hold conferences and seminars to gain facetime with new and potential clients. If you’re just starting out, you’ve likely spent a good deal getting your branding together in the first place, from your logo to slogans and graphics. The costs associated with all this can go down as deductions on your tax return.

Business Loan Interest

Debt is another aspect of owning a business, small or otherwise. For any loans your business takes out, the interest is fully deductible. But it’s important to remember that this is for loans taken out by the business. If you own the business, and you take out a personal loan for the business, that’s not the same thing, and the same deductions do not apply.

Insurance Premiums

Malpractice insurance, workers comp insurance, liability insurance—running a small business requires a good, long conversation with your insurance provider. This, in turn, requires a sobering looking at your finances as you pay those insurance premiums. When you do, take a little comfort in the fact that those premiums can be deducted when tax time comes around.

Office Supplies

Pay attention to this one: You can deduct the cost of office supplies. Many small business owners tend to overlook this key deduction. They’re focused on larger costs, like the ones we’ve described above. Who’s got time to keep track of $1 packs of sticky notes? Make time. Those small purchases add up in a big way. Don’t believe us? Track them for a month and you’ll be amazed at how much goes to pens, toner, paper, and more. When you see how much it all adds up to, you may be that person counting the number of pens in the cup on the conference table after every meeting. Small purchases add up to large costs, and in turn, large deductions.

We’ve only scratched the surface here. To learn about more tax deductions you can take for your small business, contact Steiner Business Solutions in Richmond, VA.

How to Choose the Right Tax Planner & Advisor for Your Business

Taxes are part and parcel of doing business. And when something is so common and so expected, a funny thing happens—we tend to underestimate it. Business owners spend years refining their vision, honing their pitch, and hiring the people they need to succeed. But when it comes time to plan for taxes, more often than not, they take the “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it” approach. After all, there’s that family friend that’s a tax consultant and preparer, right?

And they did their personal taxes that one time, so how hard could it be to do business tax preparation? But even that may be more thought than the typical business owner gives to their business taxes. The reality is, it’s simply not a concern—until it is.

But that hands-off approach doesn’t affect how important taxes are. Mistakes cost money, and so do missed opportunities. Sometimes it’s mistakes like these that lead business owners to seek out tax preparation services. Other times, it’s the realization that they’re spending more time in front of tax preparation software than they are speaking with customers. If you’re reading this post, it likely means that you’ve deemed it the right time to seek out such services for your business.

So what should you consider when choosing the right tax planner or advisor to work with?

Understanding your business and what you need from a tax professional is key. Do you simply need help with taxes? Do your needs run deeper than that? Are you looking for assistance setting up your business entity? Or perhaps figuring out your payroll taxes? Having the right structures in place will help you avoid costly setbacks down the road. And understanding what you need will help you better assess what you’re looking for from a tax advisor.

Once you have an understanding of your needs, it’s important to look for a tax professional who understands your business—and who understands business in general. Skills in the realm of personal accounting don’t necessarily translate to business accounting. If you’re a small business owner, seek out a tax advisor who has experience working with small businesses, and preferably ones similar to your own.

A great idea is to ask around to other business owners. Here at Steiner Business Solutions, we’re proud of the work we’ve done for businesses in and around Richmond, VA, and it’s always a great feeling when we hear that someone found us after a positive conversation with an existing client.

Once you’ve located a tax professional familiar with your business and who comes highly recommended, it’s time to assess the rest of their offering. Are they available when you need them, or does it take a while to hear back? Does the tax advisor you’ve spoken with have the support of a dedicated team? A certified financial planner, an attorney, and a certified public accountant (CPA) or enrolled agent (EA) are valuable to have as part of the team.

Hiring the right tax advisor and planner will save your business money in the long run, so choose wisely. If you have any questions about your own business, whether you’re looking for advice on deferred compensation plans, income tax preparation, or anything else, be sure to contact us for a free initial financial consultation.

5​ ​Tax​ ​Strategies​ ​to​ ​Save​ ​Your​ ​Small​ ​Business​ ​Money

If you’re a small business owner it’s important to understand tax deductions. Read on to learn more about the ways in which you can get your ducks in a row before tax time rolls around, and to keep more money in your pocket.

1) Work from home? Deduct household expenses.

Whether you work from home full-time or part-time, you can deduct a portion of your everyday living expenses on your taxes. The key here is to have a dedicated section of your home that functions as an office. Unfortunately, if you work at the kitchen table or have a small desk in the guest room, you won’t be able to count either of these as a “home office.” But a spare room dedicated solely to your business will do the trick. From there, you may be able to deduct a percentage of your mortgage interest, insurance, utility bills, and even home repairs.

2) You can deduct auto expenses too.

If you use your car in your line of work, whether directly or to drive to meetings, then car expenses can also make their way to your tax deductions. There are two ways to do this. Deducting actual car expenses, such as gas, repairs, and insurance, will require you to calculate what percentage of your vehicle usage was for your business, and work out the deduction amounts from there. It may be simpler to use the standard mileage rate, where you multiply the number of miles you’ve driven for business by the standard mileage rate for the year. This can be found on the IRS website.

3) Invest in your future, tax free.

Whether you’re the sole employee of your business or you’ve got other folks working for you, contributing to a retirement account or accounts is a great way to lower your taxable income. Any contributions to a retirement plan are tax free. And that’s not all. Assets in a retirement plan grow tax-free. Taxes come due when distributions are taken from the fund later on down the line.

4) Don’t forget about business lunches.

50 percent of business-related meal costs can be deducted. People’s minds go immediately to lunch meetings with clients or potential clients. But don’t forget about special lunches for employees, such as a pizza Friday or birthday celebration. Fair warning: Folks tend to go overboard here. Try to view company funds in the same way you do personal funds. Stay within reasonable bounds—avoid lobster Fridays for instance—and these deductions offer a great way to save money and have a good time doing it.

5) Get some help.

You know who might know more about small business tax preparation? An experienced tax professional! We’ve got a number of talented and smart folks here at Steiner Business Solutions that can help you get your tax strategies in order. We can provide valuable insight that comes with our years of experience working with hundreds of small business owners . Especially when you’re just starting out, the guidance provided by a knowledgeable professional can be invaluable.

Contact us today to help put together your tax reduction strategy.

Accounting Practices that Will Save Your Business Money

When you’re running a small business, every penny counts, especially as you’re getting off the ground. By making the right decisions, you can spend money where it counts most, getting the kinds of returns that will ensure your business goes the distance.

Accurate and timely bookkeeping is the secret to success for businesses large and small, new and established. Starting off with intelligent bookkeeping from the get-go, and keeping it as a priority as your business matures will save you a lot of headache and heartache, and give you the foundation you need to succeed.

Keep Business and Personal Accounts Separate

Even with the best of intentions, it becomes easy to lose track of where personal expenses end and business expenses begin, especially in the early days of your business. Keeping two separate bank accounts from the start will make life much less complicated. Make sure your business account has both checking and a dedicated credit card. With all the expenses in one place, you won’t waste precious time trying to figure out what goes where. You can also take advantage of rewards or cash back to put toward your business.

Prepare for Taxes Year-Round

Business tax preparation should be an ongoing priority. When you’re running a business, you don’t want surprises. And if you wait until the last minute to prepare for your taxes, that’s exactly what you’re going to get. Tracking, labeling, and categorizing expenses diligently throughout the year will save you from making unwanted errors, and help you take advantage of tax write-offs and credits.

Plan for Major Expenses

To run your business well, you need to keep an eye on the future, and that includes major expenses. Whether it’s an expensive system upgrade, new hardware, or tax deadlines, you should be preparing for major expenses well before they come due. Set aside money accordingly, and maintain an accurate understanding of the money you actually have versus what’s already earmarked for spending.

Set Time Aside to Handle Your Finances

The problem with ever-present tasks like bookkeeping is that they have a way of being put off. “I’ll take care of it next week” turns into “I’ll get to it next month,” and then all of a sudden you arrive at “Oh no, I can’t believe I didn’t do this!” To avoid the panic that comes from falling behind on your bookkeeping, schedule time each week to dedicate to your finances. Not only will this help you avoid making mistakes, it will also save time, as you won’t have to rack your brain trying to remember what that pile of six-month-old receipts was for.

Invest in Bookkeeping

A good investment provides tangible returns on the money you put in. If all of this advice is making your head spin, skilled bookkeeping services might be a sound investment. You’ll gain peace of mind knowing that your records are up-to-date and orderly. Free from the often tedious responsibility of bookkeeping, you’ll be able to invest your own time more wisely. And that’s not all. A knowledgeable bookkeeper can help you plan for potential fees, and take advantage of loopholes, deductions, and tax advantages that you may otherwise miss. An investment in bookkeeping services pays dividends you can take to the bank.

Contact Steiner Business Solutions in Richmond, VA for your small business bookkeeping needs.