Year-End Bookkeeping Checklist

Year-End Bookkeeping Checklist

Are you ready for the winter rush?

The temperature is dropping, there’s snow on the ground, and there are countless items on your to-do list. Once again, the most wonderful time of year has arrived and, boy, can it be stressful!

This time of year, you have to deal with everything from shopping to dropping the kids off for their school holiday concert practice. There’s so much on your plate that it can be difficult to know where to get started. This is one of the reasons why we want to make it as easy as possible for you to take care of your year-end bookkeeping with this simple checklist. By getting these things out of the way in the next few weeks, you’ll be ensuring that you’re positioned for a fantastic year ahead!

Update Your Bookkeeping Records

Throughout the course of a year, your bookkeeping can get a bit disorganized. If you aren’t working with a professional bookkeeper who will keep everything tidy and up-to-date, then it’s important for you to check your records at the end of the year to confirm everything is in order.

First, make sure that you’ve reconciled every bank and credit card statement with what is in your bookkeeping records. This will tell you if you’ve missed (or even double charged) a transaction.

Next, review your last few months of financial statements to confirm that the numbers are correct and that transactions weren’t improperly labeled. Make sure that your physical inventory, assets, and supplies match up with the numbers you have on paper.

Finally, don’t forget to double-check your accounts payable and accounts receivable (if you use the cash accounting method, you may want to wait to send invoices until January to keep your taxable income lower)!

We admit, updating your bookkeeping records is not the most enjoyable task, but it’s going to be invaluable when you need to do your taxes next year. If you simply can’t find the time to do it, we’d be happy to get everything ready for you!

Budgeting

We understand why you might dread going through your books at the end of the year. So many numbers, so little time! But one way that you can help keep everything on track for the following year is to set up a detailed budget.

By using the knowledge you gained from updating your bookkeeping records, you can project a reasonably accurate yearly budget for your business. By knowing your likely future income and expenses, goals can then be set that will help you grow your business next year.

Your yearly budget should be broken down into periods, monthly or quarterly (or both). This will also help you focus on goal setting for smaller sections of the year.

It can also be helpful to get some additional eyes on your projected budget to make sure that everything is in line with expectations. This is another area where we can help!

Set Goals for the Year Ahead

To be clear, we aren’t talking about a New Year’s Resolution here.

New Year’s Resolutions rarely work because they aren’t goals; they’re more like wishes. You need SMART goals that you can genuinely achieve in the upcoming year. SMART stands for: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

It can be helpful to break up your desired goals for the year, allowing you to regularly check-in and see how things are developing. We recommend setting up monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals. If you really want to get into the thick of it, you can also set up daily and weekly goals to improve smaller aspects of your business like daily reporting or customer management.

Reflect On Your Last Year

For small business owners, it’s almost always about “what’s next?” You’re focused on growth and on making your company a success. But it can pay to take some time at the end of the year to reflect on everything that happened to you over the last 12 months.

So much can happen that whizzes by in the moment. By taking a close look at your yearly successes, failures, and struggles, you can know where to focus your energy next year. On top of that, remembering successes can give you a feeling of accomplishment to give you a nice boost! And remember all of those headaches and problems you were dealing with earlier in the year? You’re now past them! Rejoice!

Tax Planning

By doing all of this bookkeeping work at the end of the year, you’re going to be setting yourself up for a much easier tax time in a few months.

Effective tax planning is key to a business’ success. If you aren’t sure of where to find relevant tax credits and rebates that will help you keep more of your money in your pocket, The Number Works would be happy to help!

By starting early, we can put together a plan that will you save big money on your taxes. At The Number Works, we’ll position your finances to maximize your year-end expenses and lower your taxable income. We can also assist with setting up a personal budget! If you’d like some help getting your year-end bookkeeping out of the way so that you can enjoy the holidays, please feel free to contact us today!

Make Better Financial Decisions By Better Understanding Your Income Statement

Make Better Financial Decisions By Better Understanding Your Income Statement

How often do you check your business’ income statement?

When you run a small business, information is your best friend. The more information that you have at your fingertips, the better the decisions you can make for your future. Being able to review your numbers and pull out key data at a moment’s notice is essential when you’re a small business owner.

One of the best ways to measure the health of your company is to check your income statements periodically. This is one of your company’s primary financial reports, sometimes referred to as the Profit & Loss Statement. This document is generated monthly, quarterly, or annually to provide an “in progress” snapshot of the current performance of your business.

What Is Its Main Use?

The primary use of the income statement is right there in the name. It’s a document that you can use to measure whether or not you’re bringing in money. “Bringing in money” doesn’t necessarily mean that you are saving money in the bank, however; to do that, you need to check your Cash Flow Statement.

The information contained in your income statement describes your net profit. In other words, your revenue minus your expenses will equal your net income.

Let’s Look at Revenue

When you generate income through your business operations, that’s your revenue. You might have a number of different revenue sources, depending on your business, which should appear at the end of each section of your income statement. This division can help you analyze which of your departments is performing best and where you might want to put your resources in the future.

This kind of information can be very useful for streamlining operations as it can help you focus in on the most profitable aspects of your business.

Let’s Look at the Cost of Sold Goods

If you’re an inventory-based business (as opposed to service-oriented), then the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) is the key to understanding your income statement. Your COGS is the cost of your inventory sold within a given time frame. For example, if you buy approximately $10,000 worth of inventory and only sell 20% of it, then your COGS will be equal to $2,000. The rest ($8,000) can only be expensed once sold. Otherwise, it will be considered an inventory asset of your business.

Before purchasing inventory, it’s important to know what you already have in stock. That’s where your balance sheet can come in handy.

Let’s Look at Gross Profit

Gross profit can be boiled down to a simple equation:

Revenue – COGS = Gross Profit

This is a subtotal within your income statement and represents the revenue that you can disperse on your other expenses after you purchase your inventory. When this is expressed as a percentage, it’s called a gross margin. It can come in handy when you want to make decisions regarding your business taking on more expenses. It’s expressed through this equation:

(Revenue – COGS) / Revenue = Gross Margin

The Gross Margin will, of course, be different for various industries. You should do some research (or ask an accountant) to determine if your Gross Margin is comparable to your competitors’ as a metric of the health of your business. If it’s too low, it means that you are spending too much on inventory, or your sales prices are too low. This could indicate that you should be looking for more competitive prices for inventory or that you should increase your sales price.

Let’s Look at Fixed Costs

Fixed costs are the expenses that are easy to predict. They occur monthly, regardless of your overall sales or other costs. They can include your monthly rent, hydro, water, business and inventory insurance, marketing, and employee salaries.

This is another place where you might want to look at industry benchmarks to determine if you are overspending. For example, if your rent accounts for more than 50% of your fixed costs every month, you are likely paying too much. It could save you money in the long run to start looking for another location for your business and/or try to re-negotiate with your landlord. You could also consider cutting down on the space used for your business and sublease the rest. Always be sure to calculate the percentage of each fixed costs against your overall revenue.

Let’s Look at Variable Costs

These are the costs that vary month to month, depending on your sales and other occasional expenses. For example, if you start to sell more of your products, then the cost of packaging is likely to go up.

Your variable costs will likely fluctuate, depending on whether you are experiencing an increase or decrease in your sales numbers. If you are experiencing a temporary downturn of 20% in sales, but your variable costs remain constant, then you might need to explore some ways to cut down on that overspending.

Variable costs can vary wildly depending on if you are in a slow or rush season. You should constantly be tracking these costs through these seasons to make sure that you are slowing your spending during the slow season to save yourself money.

Basically, your income statement all comes down to this: to figure out your bottom line, you need to subtract your expenses from your gross profit. If you discover that you’re in the black, that’s great news—it means your revenue exceeds your expenses! Yay, profit! If you’re in the red, that unfortunately means you’re going to have to figure out how to shuffle things around financially to get yourself in the black. This can happen periodically, depending on variable costs during slow and rush seasons, so you always need to be on top of your income statement.

If you’re having trouble figuring out the areas where you are overspending and underperforming, we can help. At The Number Works, we can give you a more complete understanding of your income statements and show you places where you might be able to streamline your business. So, feel free to contact us today! We can’t wait to help you better understand all of your financial statements!

How to Get Your Accounting in Order Before the End of the Year

How to Get Your Accounting in Order Before the End of the Year

Time flies when you’re having fun, but it might fly even faster when you’re running your own small business.

The new year is fast approaching, signifying a time to set personal goals, make improvements to your life, and focus on the future. But the new year is also a time when you want to look ahead at where your business will be going and the goals you wish to achieve in the new year.

And what’s the best way to set goals for your business and make improvements with a focus on the future?

By getting your accounting in order, of course!

Proper accounting is the foundation of any successful business, so whether you work with a CPA, a bookkeeper, or DIY, this year-end checklist will help you get your accounting in order so you will be all set for the next twelve months!

1. Review Your Profit & Loss Statements

Number one on your list of things to do before the end of the year is to review your profit and loss statement.

Why? Because it’s a helpful reminder about how your company is spending money. Doing a check now will also ensure that all your expenses are categorized, making it much easier to reference them in the new year.

It’s also a good idea to go back over your Profit and Loss Statement one more time after you reconcile your bank accounts, receipts, and other potential concerns.

Pro Tip: Accounting software such as QuickBooks will sync directly with your bank account or credit card statement to help you categorize your expenses.

2. Balance Your Bank Accounts and Credit Cards

Another critical accounting tip for the year-end is to ensure that your financial statements match up with your bank and credit card accounts, as well as your year-end statements.

If you’re using online accounting software, make sure that your ledger balance matches too.

3. Get Your Shoebox Organized

Are you the type of person who keeps your business receipts in a glove box, shoe box, or drawer? If so, it’s definitely time to upgrade your organizational system!

To keep on top of things in the new year, you should separate all your expense receipts into categories, then tally each category. By organizing your piles of receipts as you go instead of keeping them in a big jumbled mess, both you and your accountant will be much happier around tax time.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Even the best organizational system can break down, every now and then. Whether you use cloud-based accounting software or stubbornly cling to the shoebox system, if you find yourself with unrecorded transactions by the end of the year, then now is the time to get organized.

Bonus Tip: Be sure to copy down your thermal receipts as they tend to fade over time.

4. Get on Top of Your Accounts Receivable

Did you know CB Insights found that up to 29 percent of startups fail due to cash crises? That’s why, before the year is over, you should try to close out all outstanding receivables.

You should aim to collect all unpaid invoices and reissue or void checks as necessary by the end of the year. By cleaning up reconciliation issues and collecting as much as possible, you’ll be able to maintain better control of your company’s cash flow. Expediting payments before taxes are due will also be a big help.

5. Take Physical Inventory

If you’re running a service-based business, you probably don’t need to take physical inventory. But for those who run a product-based business, it’s crucial to get an accurate account of your inventory before the year ends.  

Make sure to match your inventory with your end-of-year balance sheet. Knowing how much you’ve spent on inventory throughout the year and its current value will also greatly help your bookkeeper.

6. Asses Your Accounting Practices

The start of a new year is the perfect time to reconsider whether the accounting system you’ve been using all year has done the job.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I been able to input all the financial data I need to track?
  • Have I gotten the financial information I need to make informed decisions and fulfill all tax and government requirements?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then it’s time to implement some changes to your accounting system.

You may need to consider hiring more staff to handle data entry, or maybe it’s time to try a different accounting software solution.

No matter what the issue is, if you take the time to resolve it now, you’ll ensure that your business continues to grow and succeed in the year to come.

7. Take Time to Look Back and Plan Forward

The end of November is a great time to review the past year’s performance and stack the results up against your preset goals and milestones.  You can then use this information to help you judge the viability of your upcoming year’s objectives.

Pull out your original business plan, objectives, and/or action plans, then start to revise them by setting new goals and action plans for the future. Making visual and tangible financial goals at year’s end can be a useful guide for where you want your business’ books to go over the next 12 months. If you do this now instead of waiting until December 31st, you’ll have a jumpstart on your new plans as soon as the New Year begins. This will help make your next fiscal year even more profitable.

 

Every emerging company wants to grow, but many don’t establish the procedures that are required to make growth happen. So, take action before the end of the year and tick these procedures off your checklist. Not only will this help your business scale, but you’ll also be better prepared when tax time rolls around.

We Can Help

If you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to get your business ready for the holidays and New Years, don’t worry! An accountant can really help!

If you find that you don’t have the time, need a second pair of eyes, or would like a more detailed review of what all the numbers mean, we’d be more than happy to work with you!

Get in touch with us today! We’ll help review your financial position and make sure your business is prepared for the end of the year.

Is your Business Prepared for the Holiday Season?

Is your Business Prepared for the Holiday Season?

Did your business have a good summer? Hope so, because winter is fast on its way!

As the cold weather starts to set in, we’re reminded that the holidays are just around the corner. And although it’s not quite December yet, as a business owner, the festive season can take up a considerable chunk of your time – and your money! So it’s important to start preparing for the holiday season well in advance.

Maybe you’ve already begun stocking your shelves full of candy canes and tinsel, in preparation for the holiday cheer. Or perhaps you’ve noticed the need for extra inventory to get ready for your sales, discounts, and promotions. Whatever your usual holiday prep, here are five tips to make sure your business is more than prepared for this year’s holiday season!

1. Keep on Top of Your Cash Flow

It’s no surprise that the financial health of a company is one of its most vital aspects for any small business owner or entrepreneur. By understanding your business’ cash-flow, you’ll be able to properly budget for your added holiday inventory, as well as forecast for the new year.

It’s amazing how quickly the last six weeks of the calendar year can slip away from busy business owners. Even if you’re busy preparing for the upcoming festive season, it’s important to take the time now to go through your accounting ledgers and see where your business stands.

This is where an accountant can really help! If you’re too busy, need a second pair of eyes, or would like a more detailed understanding of what the numbers mean, give us a call! We’d be happy to help review your financial position to ensure that your business is adequately prepared for the holidays.

2. Stay Organized

Getting ready for the holiday season means organizing your books! Be sure to have all of your receipts and expenses filed neatly in preparation for the upcoming tax season. You may also wish to do some winter organizing in your filing cabinet or digital filing system.

Trust us. If you take the time to do this now, you’ll be stress-free in a few months when you need to budget and forecast for the new year. It will also free up time to focus on a strategy for your holiday inventory (more on that in tips #3 and #4.)

Most importantly, now is the time to double- and triple-check that all your invoices have been paid and anyone who owes you money is paying up! You’ll want to catch any clients with overdue invoices before they go on their Christmas break.

3. Strategize Your Sales

Now is the perfect time to do some research on your customer’s preferences so that, when the holiday season arrives, you’ll be stocked up on precisely what your target audience wants to buy.

Carve out some time to engage more meaningfully with your customers by asking them what they like—or dislike—about your business’ current products or services.

Collect customer feedback by going through the comments and criticisms left on your website or social media channels, being sure to track and log this feedback in your company’s CRM or customer database. To gain additional data, you could even conduct an online survey with a holiday incentive for completing it!

4. Expand Your Offerings

The holidays are a perfect time to introduce a new product or service! Don’t underestimate the power of innovation. As a small business owner, you know that taking risks by offering new products or services can often be rewarded with increased sales and customer growth. Wouldn’t that a great gift for the holidays?

So, take some time now to strategically think about how you can expand your company’s offerings. Use tip #3 and consult your customers to find out what additional products they would like your business to offer throughout the holiday season and into the new year.

5. Budget for Discounts and Promotions

The holidays aren’t only synonymous with gift-giving; they’re also closely associated with discounts, promotions, and sales! By offering special holiday promotions, you’re sure to increase sales and attract more customers. However, if you don’t start preparing now, putting on these sales could end up putting you in the red. Yikes!

If you followed tip #1 and took the time to meet with an accountant, you should have a good idea of the types of discounts you can afford to offer. Whether it be 40% off the regular price, a “Buy One, Get One Free” special, or merely adding a small bonus like a free sticker with purchase of $20 or more, make sure that your business will be taking advantage of this holiday period to increase sales. Really, just let your customers know that you care by giving them a little extra!

Bonus Tip: Don’t forget about your hardworking staff!

Ask your accountant to review your financials so you can budget for a little holiday bonus or a sweet holiday office party! Remember, your business is only as good as the team who helps run it. So don’t forget to show your team how much you appreciate them during this time of love and sharing.

Now that you’ve begun to prepare your business well in advance of the holiday season, you shouldn’t feel stressed or overwhelmed. But if you still need a little help, that’s more than ok! I’d be happy to be your one-stop-shop for all your accounting needs. Let’s connect and get started making this upcoming holiday season your best one yet!

Getting Your Business Ready Well *Before* Tax Season

Getting Your Business Ready Well *Before* Tax Season

Did you know that a survey conducted by The National Small Business Association (NSBA) discovered that 33 percent of small business owners spend over 80 hours on federal taxes? That adds up to two full weeks!

Although getting your papers in order so you can file your taxes isn’t very exciting, it’s one of the most important things you can do for your business. Believe it or not, tax time doesn’t have to be a burden so long as you start to prepare well in advance.

So here are four things you need to know to get your business ready and help ease the stress of filing your taxes come April:

What Will My Accountant Need Come Tax Time?

As a business owner, there are no shortage of important forms and records that your accountant will need to properly file your taxes. Pulling all of these documents together can be one of the most time-consuming parts of their job if you aren’t already properly organized. And, as you know, accountants are usually paid by the hour. So if you want to cut down on accounting fees for your business, preparing well in advance of tax season can make a big difference on how many hours you’re paying for – and, trust us, your accountant will love you for being so organized.

Here’s a list of common business records you’ll need to give your accountant for tax season:

  • All of your business’ financial statements, such as income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.
  • If your business has employees, your accountant will need your payroll information.
  • Your accountant will need the receipts from your travel expenses, advertising expenses, rent, utilities, office supplies, maintenance, telecommunications, internet costs, raw materials, shipping, etc.
  • If you have a company car, you’ll need motor vehicle expense information, such as your business’ use of the vehicle, operating expenses, vehicle driving log with business kilometres driven, etc. 
  • Having asset additions or disposals during the year, including land, buildings, vehicles, machinery, etc. is also crucial.

Lastly, your tax accountant will require your tax records including:

  • Last year’s Notice of Assessment
  • Amounts paid by instalments
  • A copy of your income tax return filed in 2017 (if you’re a new client)

Phew! So now you see why it’s important to get your business ready for tax time before you end up in a time crunch!

By preparing well in advance, you won’t feel the stress of having to gather all this information at the last minute. If you have any questions about these forms or receipts, your accountant will have ample time to answer them before they’re drowning in a mountain of paperwork come March.

How Can I Legally Deduct My Business Expenses?

This is where preparing well ahead of tax season can really benefit you and your business.

In order to maximize your deductions, you must have all your business-related receipts. In fact, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requires that all of your business expenses be backed up by receipts, and you actually need to keep these receipts for at least six years, as the CRA can ask to see them again if needed.  

To prepare your business for tax season early, you should get in the habit of asking for a receipt after every transaction, no matter how small. Train yourself to look at your receipts when you first get them to ensure they clearly show what the purchase was for and that they include a legible vendor’s name and date.

As our experts here at The Number Works know, illegible or incomplete receipts are a hassle when it comes to accurate record-keeping, especially if you or your bookkeeper are trying to record what an incomplete receipt was for months later.

Creating a habit of checking all your receipts as you get them is a crucial first step to maximizing your business income tax deductions.

What Else Should I Do Right Now to Prepare My Business?

Get organized! Being as organized as possible will ensure a stress-free tax filing for both you and your accountant.

If you’re looking for a place to start, try creating a system where you clip groups of receipts together by type, using post-it-notes to show each category of receipt on the top. If your accountant isn’t wasting their time trying to figure out what the receipts are for, you’ll actually be saving money!

It’s essential that all your records are accurately summarized and tallied. Cheques, invoices, and business expenses should all be categorized and totalled. If you have a system where you sort all your information slips by type, you’re bound to save more time come tax season and, therefore, more money!

Ask your accountant what will make their job easier. Trust us, they will have lots of ideas! Together, you can find ways to better organize your records and documents based on the type of business you run. By figuring out potential problems with your accountant in advance, you’re sure to have their full attention and work out any kinks in the system well before it’s too late.  

Remember, your accountant is here to help by giving you tax planning advice such as how to maximize your credits or deductions or ways of restructuring your business finances to reduce your tax exposure. So don’t be shy to pick up the phone!

What Kind of Income Tax Return Does My Business Need to File?

It’s important to determine which form you’ll be filling out well in advance because the paperwork you will need can change based on how your business is structured. For example, if your business is a sole proprietorship or partnership, you must report your business income on your T1 personal income tax form because, in this case, your business is you. For a sole proprietorship or partnership, you’ll want the T1 income tax return package, which includes Form T2125 (Statement of Business or Professional Activities), for you to report your business income.

What if your business is incorporated? In that case, you will report your business income on a T2 corporate income tax return. By law, your incorporated small business is a separate entity, thus it needs to complete and file its own Canadian income tax return. However, don’t forget to file your own separate T1 personal income tax return. If your business is incorporated, then you as a person are a separate legal entity, and that’s why you’ll need to fill out both the T1 and T2 forms.

If your business needs to file a T1 return, your tax accountant will also need your relevant personal information slips and tax-related documents in addition to the business ones.

Some of these forms may include:

  • T4 slips (if you have employment as well as business income)
  • T4A commissions & self-employed
  • T5013 Partnership Income
  • T3 Income from Trusts
  • T5 Investment Income
  • RRSP contribution slips
  • Charitable donations
  • Medical and dental receipts
  • Child care information

How Can I Save Even More on Accounting Fees?

Another great way to prepare your business well before tax season is to start using cloud-based accounting software (if you haven’t already).

With current cloud-based accounting packages, you can have all of your accounting information in one easy to access place, and your accountant can even access it online at any time.

Not only will cloud-based accounting software keep track of your expenses and revenue, it can even do payroll and time and billing, as well as generate income statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets as needed.

By switching over to a cloud-based system now, you’ll have ample time to get used to the new system and test out all its features long before tax season, making tax time even easier!  

The Bottom Line

So, what are you waiting for? If you want to make sure that all of your tax documents will be in order with every form filed on time, don’t hesitate to contact us today! Here at The Number Works, we’re more than happy to answer any and all of your tax-related questions to help you get your business ready well before tax time.