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Are You Following Best Practices in QuickBooks Online?

Are You Following Best Practices in QuickBooks Online?

“Best practices” are recommendations for the most effective way to get things done. Are you following best practices in QuickBooks Online?

Habits can be good things when you’re talking about getting through the workday successfully. You might have developed a habit of responding to emails quickly and preparing checklists before you go into meetings. Maybe you schedule your most challenging work for high-energy times of the day and leave less-demanding tasks for those times when you’re not as chipper.

It’s easy to fall into habits with QuickBooks Online, too. You might follow the same workflow pattern every day simply because that’s the way you’ve always done things. There’s nothing wrong with that – as long as you’re incorporating as many of the site’s best practices as you can. That is, you’ve made a habit of taking actions that will lead to the most effective use of QuickBooks Online.

Here are three habits we think you should consider developing to gain financial control if you haven’t already.

Go through your new transactions every day (or at least once a week):

One of the best things about QuickBooks Online is its ability to connect to your financial accounts and import transactions regularly. But this feature is only useful if you review your recently-downloaded transactions periodically. Wait too much longer than that, and it will become too overwhelming.

We recommend you review your account transactions every day and complete any of the fields necessary.

To view an account register, you’d click Banking in the left vertical pane, and then click on the desired account at the top of the screen. When you select a transaction, a small window like the (partial) one pictured above drops down and displays your options. If you have not worked with defining and clearing downloaded transactions before, we can provide guidance here. It’s complicated at first, but easy to master.

Always assign categories to expenses:

You’ll get out of QuickBooks Online what you put into it. That is, the more conscientious you are about completing records and transactions thoroughly, the more helpful your reports will be. It’s especially important that you assign categories to expenses when you remember them and mark them as billable or not. Those categorized expenses will be very important as you’re preparing your company’s income taxes. And you want to be sure that customers are billed for expenses you incur on their behalf.

For those transactions that may require more research, use categories like “checks to be assigned” or “credit card payments” to keep the transaction queue clear and the bank balances up to date.

Run aging reports once or twice a week:

QuickBooks Online can help you keep up with money owed to you and money you owe, but you have to take the time to stay current with that information. The site’s Dashboard provides the dollar total for unpaid invoices and links to a list, but it doesn’t tell you what bills of your own may be coming due – or are late.

We recommend you run at least two reports at the beginning and end of the week: Accounts Receivable Aging Summary and Accounts Payable Aging Summary. You can modify these reports by clicking the Customize button, but they should be good as is. You don’t want to see any numbers in any columns except the first one (Current). If you see any beyond that, it means that either incoming or outgoing payments are overdue. Click on any number to see the transactions behind it.

More to Implement

There are many other best practices that we’d recommend for your use of QuickBooks Online. Several of them have to do with reports, one of the site’s capabilities that is particularly robust but which many businesses don’t fully engage in because some of them are difficult to analyze. These include standard financial reports like Balance Sheet and Statement of Cash Flows.

You’ll need these reports if you apply for financing or want to share information about your company’s financial health with a third party. The insight they provide can also be useful to you in making business decisions. We’d be happy to create and analyze these for you on a regular basis, or to consult with you on any other aspect of QuickBooks Online that is perplexing. Let us inspire you to make your world happier though accounting!

Happy Accounting!

Are You Following Best Practices in QuickBooks Online?

3 Ways to Receive Payments in QuickBooks Online

Recording Customer Payments

Recording customer payments is one of your more pleasant accounting tasks. Depending on the situation, you can choose from multiple ways to do this using QuickBooks Online.

If you made New Year’s resolutions this last January, you’ve probably had to revise them. No one knew what was coming when 2019 turned over to 2020. We hope that despite the turmoil and disruption of the last six months, you’ve managed to stay healthy and keep your small business running.

It’s more important than ever to conscientiously record all of the money coming into your company and ensure that it gets quickly deposited into your account(s). QuickBooks Online offers several ways to accomplish this. Whether you’re receiving payment on an invoice, documenting an instant sale, or selling on the road – the site provides tools to make certain that your receipt of the funds is entered in the correct place.

Delayed Payments

Do you send invoices for products and/or services? If so, there’s more than one way to record payments when they come in. You can, of course, just open the invoice and click Receive payment in the upper right corner. We find, though, that going to the All Sales screen gives us a chance to check the status of other pending transactions. Click Sales in the toolbar, then All Sales.

If your list isn’t very long, you can just look for the invoice number. If not, you can use the Filter tool to find the original form. Click the down arrow next to Filter in the upper left to see your search options here (Status, Customer, etc.).

If you have a lengthy list of sales transactions, you can search for the one(s) you want in this drop-down window.

Once you’ve found the invoice, look down toward the end of that row. In the Action column, you’ll see Receive payment. (While you’re there, click the down arrow to familiarize yourself with the other options.) When the Receive Payment window opens, select the Payment method that applies. Leave the Deposit to field showing Undeposited Funds and look over the rest of the screen to make sure everything is accurate. Print it if you’d like and/or add an Attachment using the links at the bottom, then Save it.

Tip: Customers tend to pay invoices faster if you allow them to make payments online. If you’re not yet set up for this, we can help you.

Instant Payments

Your business may collect payments at the time you provide a product or service. When this happens, you’ll want to supply your customers with a sales receipt instead of an invoice (this is also important for your own records). Click the +New button in the upper left and select Sales receipt under Customers to open a blank form. You’ll fill this out just like you would an invoice, by selecting the Customer first, then entering or selecting any data needed for the other fields.

If you don’t anticipate needing all of the fields on your sales forms, you can remove some of them and even add your own. Ask us how this works.

If you’d like to add custom fields to your sales forms, you can do so in QuickBooks Online.

When you’ve completed all of the fields in your sales receipt, you can preview and print it. You can also save and email it to the customer.

Going Mobile

If you generate sales on the road, you can still create sales receipts for customers using the QuickBooks mobile app. Just click the plus (+) sign at the bottom of the screen and select Sales Receipt. The form is similar to the one you’d use on your desktop computer, though the layout is different, of course.

Having a QuickBooks Payments account is especially helpful when you’re making mobile sales. You can even swipe your customers’ credit and debit cards if you order a card reader from Intuit. We can walk you through this process.

You don’t ever want to record a payment incorrectly, of course, but it’s especially important right now to ensure that you’re accounting for every dollar that comes in. Please stay healthy and safe, and let us know if we can inspire you in any way with your accounting and your use of QuickBooks Online.

Happy Accounting!

9 Best Ways to Start a Business Budget to Spur and Guide Growth

9 Best Ways to Start a Business Budget to Spur and Guide Growth

Building a business is a process that requires careful attention to many individual points, all with the goal of increasing customers, improving products, and building profit.

There are many elements that contribute to the ability of a company to grow. One key area to focus on is the budget. From the foundation of the business, a well-planned budget can create a financially sound business with clear directions. To achieve that, consider these nine key ways to create an effective budget that spurs and guides the growth of your company.

#1: Know what you are spending first

It is impossible to create a budget without knowing where your money is going. To that end, business owners need to pay careful attention to every expense the company has. This should include expenses related to running the business such as marketing, employee costs, and property costs. Create a system where every dollar spent for the company is carefully tracked. While this type of oversight may seem intense, it gives you a foundation from which to build and this can be outsourced to an accounting professional.

#2: Analyze each expense carefully

Now that you know where your money is going, the next step is to know if you are overpaying in any area. For example, are you fully using the benefits and features of those annually occurring technology subscriptions that are so easy to sign up for and just as easily forgotten? You may be able to reduce your cost of goods sold by negotiating more favorable terms with your key suppliers and improve your working capital. Look at each item to determine if it is worthwhile or if there is a less-expensive solution.

#3: Build an expense-based budget

With this information in hand, it becomes possible to then build a budget. A variety of software programs, as well as the help of an accountant, can help you to do this. The goal here is to ensure that the amount you allocate to each expense matches what you are currently paying or your revised amount. In short, it is accurate. When changes occur over the month, you can spot them easily and take action to rectify your budget.

#4: Hire an accounting professional for timely reports

You cannot know how well your business is doing or how it can grow without having access to in-depth information. Clear, accurate reports delivered to you can show your current profit and loss. They can help you understand sales patterns. They can also break down information based on the specific types of profit margins various items bring in and which do not pay for themselves. An accounting professional specializes in building information systems that help you extract this as well as the information to file your end-of-the-year taxes.

#5: Create a cash flow projection

Now that you have a professional on hand, you can use this team to help you build a realistic, accurate cash flow projection for the next month. You can extend that to include cash flow goals for the next six months and then for the year. By having this present, you can see where your growth is occurring as well as any limitations within the process.

#6: Create a savings plan

It sounds like a personal money management step, but one of the costliest components of growing a business is expanding assets, building space, marketing, or other large investments. Your business has working capital, but do you have a growth account? This is an account that you are saving in to allow your business to make large purchases down the road. It can also help a company to manage costs in financial emergencies or situations where they need a significant amount of cash on hand. By having these funds, you do not have to tap into costly credit and loans to grow.

#7: Tackle debt with a lot of effort

Debt is one of the most taxing of components in managing a business. Debt is expensive. Every dollar you spend on interest payments is money not going toward helping your business to grow. Work with your accounting professional to understand your company’s current debt, cash flow needs, and allowances that could be used to pay down debt faster. Create an aggressive plan to reduce your company’s debt so that you can free up more capital for short-term and long-term investments.

#8: Begin moving profits toward growth goals

Companies that have their financials in line are likely to begin to see profit more readily. With that comes the ability to grow. Some companies may wish to be aggressive here. Instead of borrowing for another location or launching a new product based on costly credit card debt, begin to move a percentage of all profits toward the business’s growth plan and investments. It’s important for companies to recognize growth as a cost of doing business. For example, if a company has a 25 percent margin for profit on every sale, recognize that to just 20%. Tuck the remaining 5% into an investment for future growth. In other words, see investing in future growth as an expense for your company now. This way, you begin to readily put money aside.

#9: Develop a growth plan

What is your goal? How does your company foresee growing revenue, providing more services, or otherwise scaling? Work with an accounting firm to create a solid plan of action. This should include outlining all goals for the company (for a year, five years, and so on). Then, create financial expectations for the next six months and year. Your growth plan should also include all costs of growth – as well as any expected investments necessary to build that long-term picture.

By focusing on each one of these areas, with the help of accounting professionals, it is possible to build a solid growth plan that addresses every need the company has. You cannot simply say you want to increase customers by 100%. You need a plan based on your financials to get you there. Let us inspire you to create this plan!

Happy Accounting!

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