Are your books in need of a tune-up?
A lot of business owners are stressed out about their books. It’s easy to fall into a rabbit hole when your accounting and paperwork falls behind or gets messy. Once it’s in this state, you don’t want to look at your books at all. This cycle can be dangerous and costly.
Many CPAs have nightmarish stories about clients that ended up paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to fix mistakes. At Schwan and Associates CPA, we’ve seen businesses struggle from simple but devastating errors in record-keeping.
One corporation we helped was five years delinquent on their taxes because their records were almost non-existent. They didn’t have any methods in place to record transactions, let alone processes to make recording those transactions easier. Errors in processing payroll ended up costing them thousands of dollars to fix. It was a devastating situation for a new business that was already struggling to stay afloat. Although we were able to help them through the past five years and create simple processes that fit their budget, they could have saved a lot of money upfront by having those processes in the first place.
Band-Aid Solutions Don’t Work
Fixing mistakes from one year (or from previous years) can be an arduous task. But if that’s all you do, it’s like putting a band-aid on a major gash. It doesn’t make sense to fix your books up without looking toward the future. Having a professional clean up your books is necessary, but having him or her set you up for success is always a smart investment.
When our clients come to us with messy or mistake-ridden bookkeeping, they want to know how to avoid falling into the same situation in the future. We always provide them with three tasks they need to complete to guarantee they can save time and money in the future:
1. Annual Reviews
If you don’t have a bookkeeper or accountant looking over your books each year, there’s a good chance something has been missed. A few simple issues in one year of bookkeeping can cause a domino effect. Before you know it, you have to travel back in time by following a complex paper trail to find the source of the mistake and fix everything that came after. That’s a lot of important time spent (or time wasted, as most people see it).
The best first step is to have a qualified accountant or bookkeeper look at your current set of books. Have them go back at least a year or two to check up on the health of your records. Identifying any issues upfront saves a lot of time before the upcoming tax season rolls around. It gives your accountant more time to make changes and gather information to ensure everything is ready for tax and end of year deadlines.
2. Processes & Automation
Are you doing everything by hand? Do you have a ton of paper and files built up? If you do, it probably weighs you down, and it’s completely unnecessary.
When it comes to fixing mistakes, going digital can be a major time and money saver. It takes a lot longer to dig around in mounds of paper than to use simple search functions on bookkeeping tools – especially for an expert. Try to find a bookkeeper or accountant with certifications in the major online tools (for example, we are a QuickBooks Certified Pro Advisor, a TSheets Certified Pro, a Plooto Certified Pro, and a Hubdoc Advanced Partner). He or she can help you set up automated systems and integrate them for a seamless system. This doesn’t just make fixing mistakes easier; it also saves businesses a ton of time on invoicing, paying bills, and all the other monotonous tasks that take you away from the business.
The easiest place to start is with your accounts receivable and accounts payable. You can create automatic systems that send out bills and notices, collect and make payments, and record transactions. Read more about how to automate your receivables and payables in our last blog post.
Even with automated tools in place, errors can and do happen. These are usually human errors that result from owners and employees misunderstanding how the systems work. It can be especially tricky when there’s a team of people responsible for the books, but even solopreneurs face issues when it comes to learning new tools.
Fixing errors and putting systems in place only offer you two parts to a three-piece puzzle. That’s why we always recommend our VIP Package. It truly provides the most value in the long-term because it helps prevent mistakes rather than continually dealing with them after the fact. Plus, one-on-one support means you can call up an experienced CPA at any time to get help, resolve issues, or improve processes to save even more time.
We also offer a few other options for business owners with different needs. You can let us go in and clean up your books – with no help needed from you – or work together with us to get your bookwork whipped into shape.
Whatever you choose, make sure a qualified professional is looking things over before tax season and your year-end. We don’t like hearing stories about businesses that were harmed or failed because of bookkeeping issues that have simple fixes.