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Thread: Anyone with small business accounting experience?

  1. #1
    Senior Member blzzrdqueen's Avatar
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    My hubby and I are in the process of starting a small business (sole proprietorship (me)) and it has been a really long time since I've done any accounting, other then household, so I'm wondering what the best route might be as far as record keeping, preparing for tax returns (sales tax) and such and if there is any free help available. I thought about taking an accounting class but I don't feel like spending the money on one so I've been looking at stuff online, but I'd like to hear advice from real people. If you have any tips, please let me know, I'm eager to get off on the right foot. Thanks!!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    When my husband and I started our business, we used an accountant to set up QuickBooks. Now all I have to do is input the information, and hand off the files to the accountant at tax time.

    In Albany, I would check with the Albany/Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce and see what information they have available. I know our county has a program just for small business development (I'm just south of Albany). They review setting up a business plan, marketing, and probably accounting, too.

    Good luck - owning a business is a lot of hard work, and a lot of fun sometimes, too.

  3. #3
    Super Member purplemem's Avatar
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    I'll give the same advice. Quick Books is definitely worth the money, it will pay your taxes, etc. (as long as you have the money) You can even set it up yourself, it will walk you through it.

    If you don't want to pay for it in one lump, it will even charge you monthly for about $4 a month!

  4. #4
    Super Member seamstome's Avatar
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    I use Quick Books as well with the payroll option. You should have a Small Business Development Center in your area that has seminars on these topics for 10-50 dollars. Sometimes they are coordinated with a local community college as non-credit courses. I would not take a college credit accounting course but these seminars are well worth it to learn how to work Quick Books for invoicing, cost projections etc.

    Good luck

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seamstome
    You should have a Small Business Development Center in your area that has seminars on these topics for 10-50 dollars
    SCORE, an organization of retired business executives, might be helpful, too.

  6. #6
    Super Member Barbm's Avatar
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    all of the above. When I started my business 4 years ago I went to the SBDC, SCORE and my accountant. I use Quick Books.

    I've grown to the point where I need a payroll service (best $35 I've spent) and employ an escrow service to do my accounting each month.

    I don't have an accounting background, but a legal background and know where my talents are best used. So I employ those whose talents are needed.

    Good luck on your endeavors!

  7. #7
    Senior Member cattailsquilts's Avatar
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    I am a bookkeeper/staff accountant, I used to work for a CPA firm here in AZ.

    As a sole proprietor, you can file your business taxes on your 1040 personal return. You need to prepare Schedule C. I highly recommend buying Quickbooks, and do *NOT* go with Quickbooks Online. That always gave us so many problems when trying to get reports for the firm.

    I suggest Quickbooks Pro, unless you are hiring employees you do not need the Payroll add-on. If you do ever need it, you can always add it later. I use Quickbooks for my own business as well as for clients (I am a freelance bookkeeper out of my home). Your CPA can help you with any necessary adjustments, and when you get to the point where you have enough business income that you need to take a salary, s/he will tell you how to do that as well (you still won't need the Payroll service, either).

    I have never done sales tax for New York, but Quickbooks lets you set up tax rates for in and out of state sales, as well as lets you set up rates for the different regions/cities, as I know NY has that fun going on, just like AZ does. There are reports you can print out that will give you the numbers you need to file your returns. Which reminds me, I need to do mine.

    If you have other questions, feel free to send me a PM and I'll help out as best I can.

  8. #8
    Senior Member blzzrdqueen's Avatar
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    I don't expect to make much money the first year or so, we're still purchasing supplies (the least expensive first) and equipment. I plan to do the financial stuff myself, so is an accountant absolutely necessary? How much does that usually cost? I could get Quickbook on my own at some point. I've been reading a ton of info on state and local sales taxes and we will soon have our Certificate of Authority so we can collect tax. How often will I be paying these taxes, is it quarterly? I have a lot of questions! So please bare with me! Thank you ALL for the advice, I'll be looking into it all diligently!

  9. #9
    Senior Member cattailsquilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blzzrdqueen
    I don't expect to make much money the first year or so, we're still purchasing supplies (the least expensive first) and equipment. I plan to do the financial stuff myself, so is an accountant absolutely necessary? How much does that usually cost? I could get Quickbook on my own at some point. I've been reading a ton of info on state and local sales taxes and we will soon have our Certificate of Authority so we can collect tax. How often will I be paying these taxes, is it quarterly? I have a lot of questions! So please bare with me! Thank you ALL for the advice, I'll be looking into it all diligently!
    I would start with Quickbooks right now, that way you don't have to try to play catch up & enter everything later. If you don't already use an accountant to prepare your personal taxes, then no, you don't *need* to hire one, but often times it makes things MUCH easier.

    As for how often you have to pay the taxes, it all depends on your state/region. I have to pay monthly, even though I have less than $1,000 in annual sales. When you are making significant income through the business, you will need to make quarterly tax payments to the federal government, but you probably are quite a ways off from that still.

  10. #10
    Senior Member blzzrdqueen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cattailsquilts
    Quote Originally Posted by blzzrdqueen
    I don't expect to make much money the first year or so, we're still purchasing supplies (the least expensive first) and equipment. I plan to do the financial stuff myself, so is an accountant absolutely necessary? How much does that usually cost? I could get Quickbook on my own at some point. I've been reading a ton of info on state and local sales taxes and we will soon have our Certificate of Authority so we can collect tax. How often will I be paying these taxes, is it quarterly? I have a lot of questions! So please bare with me! Thank you ALL for the advice, I'll be looking into it all diligently!
    I would start with Quickbooks right now, that way you don't have to try to play catch up & enter everything later. If you don't already use an accountant to prepare your personal taxes, then no, you don't *need* to hire one, but often times it makes things MUCH easier.

    As for how often you have to pay the taxes, it all depends on your state/region. I have to pay monthly, even though I have less than $1,000 in annual sales. When you are making significant income through the business, you will need to make quarterly tax payments to the federal government, but you probably are quite a ways off from that still.
    Unfortunately we can't afford expensive software right now, although I will be saving up to buy it, is there a way I could do it on my own, building my own spread sheets maybe?...right now I'm mostly wanting to keep track of expenses, and maybe a few sales here and there. This is something I would have to do until I could get the software...

  11. #11
    Senior Member vwquilting's Avatar
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    I have been business for years. Both Small and large.Keep it as small as you can the more employees the more you waste your time taking care of them. Pay your self weekly and make sure you understand that You are a business expense. If you don't pay yourself you are distorting your expenses. Same as your goods. They are the price that they are.

    Keep accurate records and decide how much you want to spend in a year and do not deep into your household money. Don't expect to make a profit for at least 3 years. REMEMBER PAY YOUR A SALARY for all the time you spend/ Post office, Paperwork ETC.

  12. #12
    mygirl66's Avatar
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    I took accounting in college a few years ago, (my minor), we had to have our own company & turn our books in at the end for our final exam. I used Quick Books, and got an A, it is very easy to use, and has very simple basic instructions! Good luck!

  13. #13
    Senior Member vwquilting's Avatar
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    Sole Proprietor ship= S Corporation.Your Checks should say Company name DBA( doing business as) with your signature.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blzzrdqueen
    How often will I be paying these taxes, is it quarterly? I have a lot of questions! So please bare with me! Thank you ALL for the advice, I'll be looking into it all diligently!
    NYS Sales tax is collected quarterly. You have to remember to do it - they don't mail the forms anymore. They like you to do it online so they get their $$$ quicker, but I'm still mailing the form and the check.

    I found having the accountant set up Quick Books was invaluable. I know a little about bookkeeping, which makes me very dangerous. If you ever have to talk to the IRS, it will be a big comfort to know that your deductions are legitimate and correctly accounted for. I have equipment and computers, and nary a clue about things like depreciation and tax issues. I probably spend less than 15 minutes a day making all my entries.

  15. #15
    Senior Member vwquilting's Avatar
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    You should have in your area an SBA, small business group they are retired business people who offer their services for free. Look in the phone book.

  16. #16
    Senior Member vwquilting's Avatar
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    When yo do your income taxes We do Turbo tax. Buy it in the store onLINE is awful. the program will do the calculations for you. I had 2 ACCOUNTS AND A FINANCIAL PLANNER BOTH PRETTY USELESS.i HAVE BEEN DOING MY OWN FOR YEARS IT'S REALLY EASY AND IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION YOU CAN CALL THE IRS THEY ARE REALLY HELPFUL.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Robinlee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seamstome
    I use Quick Books as well with the payroll option. You should have a Small Business Development Center in your area that has seminars on these topics for 10-50 dollars. Sometimes they are coordinated with a local community college as non-credit courses. I would not take a college credit accounting course but these seminars are well worth it to learn how to work Quick Books for invoicing, cost projections etc.

    Good luck
    I agree with everyone. I use Quickbooks for my District management position and at home. Worth the money for updates, classes and such.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Feather3's Avatar
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    You can try a free trial of QB's:

    http://www.intuit.com/

    If you choose not to keep using it you have the option to stop after the trial. I would buy it in store later.

  19. #19
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hinterland
    Quote Originally Posted by blzzrdqueen
    How often will I be paying these taxes, is it quarterly? I have a lot of questions! So please bare with me! Thank you ALL for the advice, I'll be looking into it all diligently!
    I found having the accountant set up Quick Books was invaluable. I know a little about bookkeeping, which makes me very dangerous. If you ever have to talk to the IRS, it will be a big comfort to know that your deductions are legitimate and correctly accounted for. I have equipment and computers, and nary a clue about things like depreciation and tax issues. I probably spend less than 15 minutes a day making all my entries.
    I wholeheartedly agree with this, by having an accountant set up your program initially, it will save you a LOT of headaches and quite possibly $$$ down the road. PLUS you know that it is set up correctly. They say simple, easy, etc... but there are ins/outs that you NEED to know and without this knowledge your fines/fees can easily be greater than the money you tried to save :wink:

    They can quickly set up the individual accounts within these programs, and accurately, so that when tax time comes around, you know what you owe the state, payroll taxes, IRS, etc... and your books will all balance.

    When I did business taxes, if their spread sheets didn't balance or look correct, the clients either had to fix them before I would continue, or pay me to go through everything and that could be very costly.

    For now, yes, you can use Excel or an equivalent for spreadsheets... but I would take them to a tax preparer when tax times comes around.

    Some expenses you can take 100% at the end of the year, others have to be amortized. If you don't completely understand what this means... it is another reason to get professional help at tax time .

    It also wouldn't hurt for you to call the IRS and find out right now which of your major expenditures are going to be deducted at 100% and which won't. This way you won't be surprised come January. Basically, anything electric will be amortized, so a computer would not be 100% deductible. It would be spread out over a number of years. You will find this to be true of many of your start up expenses....

    If you take in your spread sheets, and you are SURE they are accurate, then you and the IRS shouldn't have a problem 6 months down the road :wink:

    We had clients who would bring in their spread sheets quarterly for us to look over... we charged a very nominal fee to make sure everything balanced and looked okay. I think we charged $50 every quarter.

  20. #20
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    The small business that I worked for had an accountant that we gave all the monthly & quarterly information to. We used a variety of different programs in the 19 years I worked there, but used QuickBocks for about the last 3 years. It is pretty straightforward to use, but finding the reports you want can sometimes be a challenge.

  21. #21
    Super Member Murphy's Avatar
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    You can also do your own taxes using Taxactonline.com

    This is a wonderful, user friendly program and very inexpensive. My friend uses this for her small business.

  22. #22
    Super Member Murphy's Avatar
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    Quicken is what she uses for her daily books.

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