Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What you need to know about using a payroll service...

For the small business owner with less than 50 employees it may be best to keep payroll in-house using a program like QuickBooks Pro to create your paychecks and keep track of your payroll liabilities.  I also recommend that you have your professional bookkeeper or accountant set this up for you and show you how to use the basic or do-it-yourself payroll that QuickBooks offers.

Quite frankly, once the setup is done and showing you  how to enter the hours and create the paychecks, that's all there is to it.  From that point forward everything you have to do for a payroll server provider is nothing more or less than you must do to create the payroll checks yourself. 

Paying your payroll taxes can be done online for both the Federal and State of Michigan now.  All of the forms necessary are available online and QuickBooks tracks all of your expenses and liabilities.  Your professional bookkeeper or accountant can show you how to make your monthly payroll tax payments, or you can contract with them for this service.

Typically we spend less than an hour per client reviewing and processing the Quarterly Payroll tax returns and payments.  Many of my clients are comfortable doing their own monthly deposits, so they only need us once every 3 months.  The more you can do yourself with the guidance of a professional the better you will understand the process and just exactly how much payroll really does cost you.  Not to mention this will save you fees a payroll service provider charges.

The quarterly visits also gives us opportunity to review the financial statements and go over any challenges that may have come up since the last visit. 

So before you are "frightened" into paying for a service that's not that scary, price this out and talk to your professional bookkeeper or accountant.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Working from Home

I began working from home in 1992, when my son was 10 years old, and bookkeeping is such a good fit for a home based business, I thought win-win!  Finally, I had a job that felt more like playing than working, a job that would fit my lifestyle and allow me to be at home before and after school, and allow me the freedom punching a time-clock couldn't.

There are some pros and cons I'd like to share with you now that my business is 19 years old and the first 14 years I worked from home.  There is already a lot of negative stigma surrounding bookkeepers and embezzling.  While working from home I did experience good growth and over time built a reputation with CPA's and my word-of-mouth referral work steadily increased.  I've since heard recommendations to NOT hire a self-taught work from home bookkeeper, and there are plenty of us out there.  I'd say however with one major distinction, I am college educated.  Too many work-at-home bookkeepers have never taken college accounting courses, most are self-taught or took an extension course to learn the software.  I have first hand experience of how disastrous this can be for a business owner.  I've gone in after an incompetent bookkeeper to straight up the mess, and to get accurate numbers for them and their year-end tax accountant.   Here the business owners are trying to do what's right, and hire an independent bookkeeper not knowing how to screen or test for competency.  So, I'm just so very fortunate to have done well enough to have earned the respect and trust of area CPA's that allowed me to grow to the point that I needed to hire an employee.

All of the Pros associated with working from home in your "jammies" are lost when you hire an employee.  Now you can't come to "work" before you've showered, still in your pj's.  When you work at home, and enjoy it so much you tend to work much longer hours, so be careful to give yourself a break and enjoy the company of your friends and family.  Make certain that your "office" is in a separate room or area of your home that works well for the type of work you're doing.  You also need to set boundaries for the times when you must work and other family members are home.  Office door shut means please do not disturb unless it's an emergency!  This being said, try to find hours to work when you know you won't be disturbed.

If you need to meet with clients, have a comfortable professional meeting area in your home, or look to your local chamber of commerce to borrow a meeting space when necessary.  Meeting for coffee at a local restaurant works well too if your home isn't conducive for a business meeting.  You may also look into utilizing technology for meetings, using web cams and Skye.  Just be aware of the area behind you and "dress" from the waist up. 

Be aware of your township ordinances as well.  In my township I could only have one employee who was not a member of the household.  So when my business grew to the point where I needed to hire another person, I had to find a commercial office to move into.  Now I wished I'd made that move much earlier. my business doubled the first year, by the second I had 1 full-time and 2 part-time employees.

I still maintain my home office, and work from home when I have long-term projects to work on or have remote support sessions.  Once again, in my jammies, before my shower... l.ife is Good!