Why Am I Always Behind Come Tax Time?

Here it is, the end of another fantastic year, and I’m just now getting started on my bookkeeping. Again?

I know I’ve said that success requires you know how your business is doing by keeping your bookkeeping up-to-date. I guess I should be following my own advice.

Excuses Why I haven’t Kept Up

That’s all they are, excuses, not reasons.

The year started with a Bang, continuing last year’s trend. Up 35% for January. WOW! Gotta take a break from the Christmas season, and start planning for the upcoming trade show.

Not all that many entries to make, I’ll do it next week… month… quarter…

Las Vegas buying trip. Get those new products up and listed.

Gotta get my garden set up. Finish those raised beds.

Oldest son having surgery. We plan a 2-month motorhome trip to help out.

This semi-retirement is pretty cool. Only have to work a few hours a week, not the half-days we had in our physical stores. (We did get to choose which 12 hours we worked then, however.)

Man, those motorhome repairs are nickle and dimeing us. I hope they get it right this time.

Sure rides good on this Thanksgiving road trip.

Wow, Christmas sales doing well. We have already beat last year. Can we break that looming milestone?

YIKES!~ It’s the day after Christmas, and I haven’t even entered ONE expense or receipt. What am I going to do?!?!

What I’m Going To Do

Well, I’m going to get started, and keep at it until It’s done. That’s what I’m going to do.

Along the way, there’s the physical inventory here to take. I have to collect final documents from vendors and venues. There aren’t any W-2s to generate nor to receive. Just plug away until it’s done.

Because I really only do a few hours each week of actual business work, I’ll be able to spend a few additional hours each day to get all this done.

I can do it.

How I Will Prevent This For Next Year

Yeah. Sure. That’s my story.

My bookkeeping process really isn’t that hard, nor is it onerous. I’m just lazy.

It comes back to me being the Boss of myself, the Employee. That’s the hardest job for the self-employed. Who is accountable, and how?

I’ll start with an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) that outlines each step for data entry. I don’t need to make daily entries due to delayed data from our online sites, and low volume of expenses from home. But, at the end of each month, I can easily forget the subtle process details I originally worked out earlier.

The SOP is crucial.

With my old repair shop business, I had dozens of quarterly reports to file and pay to various local, state, and federal agencies. I was so busy running the shop, managing the employees, and making sales, that my brain was fried each quarter.

I created a simple chart that told me which reports to file, which data fields to use for each form, and how each form had impact on the others. It was pre-computer days, so it was a hand-written chart.

It worked.

Along with a computerized SOP, I created an Excel spreadsheet to track each month and each source to track my progress.

Now, I know what to do, when to do it, and what I have left to do. I know what documents I need to retrieve from each source. I know where to file the paper and digital files when I’m finished with them.

The Tools I Use For Taxes

Over the years, I’ve accumulated thousands of digital and physical tools to manage my business. Most of them lay gathering dust because they didn’t work as I thought it would, or like I needed.

I do use Quicken for most data retrieval and storage. Besides our online business, we have extensive investments to track. Quicken does a pretty good job of managing checking accounts, credit card statements, and investments.

I’ve used it since the 80s with the old DOS version 2. I’m familiar with how it works and how I’ve made it work for us.

I don’t use QuickBooks. Very expensive, in my opinion. Intuit offers the less powerful editions with a monthly subscription these days. I would never own it, but, it would always be up-to-date. The Pro version desktop is full-service, but, again, expensive.

I like to conserve my cash.

For a real double-entry accounting solution, I found GnuCash at http://www.gnucash.org/. It is Open Source (meaning free) and supported by a dedicated group of volunteer programmers.

It has plenty of standard and exotic reports. It’s suitable for personal or small business use. I used it for last year’s tabulation.

I use data from Quicken reports for various audit numbers. Other than that, I get my accounting data from Amazon, eBay, and my bank and credit card accounts.

I use TurboTax for filing my taxes. Again, many years of use. It has always given me good results with little effort. It leads me through every section and form I need to file. It files electronically. If has my State forms to fill out as well.

I use another Open Source program for spreadsheets, documents, and charts. It is Libre Office Suite, found here: http://www.libreoffice.org/. It is compatible with Microsoft Office files. It does use its own file structure, but you can also save as several Microsoft or other file types.

I also use Goggle Calendar to keep track of various due dates. I put in email notifications to remind me to download reports and statements.

I also like to use Evernote to keep notes about current and future business projects. It is simple to use and works across devices. I don’t need to rely on posty notes or scraps of paper to lose my brilliance. I capture it where ever I am. You can get it here: https://evernote.com/.

My Takeaway

Processes, SOPs, Calendars, Data-gathering. Gotta have ‘em.

Taxes. Gotta Pay ‘em.

Bookkeeping. Gotta do it.

What Processes Do You Use?

2 thoughts on “Why Am I Always Behind Come Tax Time?”

  1. You don’t really have a blog, just a YouTube Video, unless I missed something. In spite of the tales of millions of hits, a YouTube video won’t be the same as an ad in your local paper. Billions of videos, and yours is only one. At least in your paper, you are one of only hundreds.

    YouTube is an excellent way to highlight your work and introduce your employees to prospective customers. Try to add some video, or at least a variety of stills highlighting your script.

    You might try to make several videos, highlighting simple things an owner can do to improve AC efficiency, cleaning, filters, and the like, all opened and closed with your tagline and a call to action like: “For your bigger problems, call us today.”

    Getting traffic to your video, or your blog, is the bigger job. Unfortunately, just posting one video will not be very successful. If you had a regular blog, say by WordPress, you could use the videos, there, too.
    WordPress has these plugins: https://wordpress.org/plugins/search.php?q=seo

    Keywords research is here: http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo/keyword-research

    Build yourself a portfolio of several videos, build a blog where you can write about news and specials, or how you fixed Mrs Jones’s problem in 30 minutes flat, or how you discovered this dangerous condition in several installations. Then, post to your FaceBook and Twitter pages.

    You can do it. Let me know if you need some help.

    John L

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