Category: Entrepreneur

Closing the Books | End of Year Record Keeping

Have you been asking yourself where 2022 went?  In this blog, we’ll talk about year end record keeping and some easy steps to help you close out the year.

It’s time to close out the books!

But what does it mean: “Close the books?” As a small business owner, “The Books” are a record of your revenue, expense and income summary reports. At Paris SBDC, we encourage you to produce these reports once a month – it really helps you know where you are financially. At the end of the year, business owners can close their books by zeroing out their income and expense accounts and moving the numbers to the balance sheet.

It’s all about moving numbers:

Accounting software has become a necessity for any size small business, so we would strongly encourage you to get a program that fits your business needs. While we can’t recommend one program over another, we can tell you several places to look to find accounting software that may meet your needs.  Here are several to consider:

  • Quickbooks: They have a free on-line version, too! Great for any business.
  • Quickbooks Self-Employed: Many free-lance or contract workers like this program
  • QuickBooks Online – See their video and article.
  • Quicken Deluxe: A great over-all software at a reasonable price.
  • Freshbooks: Great for a service-based business.
  • Excel Bookkeeping: If you are already familiar with Excel products, this would be a simple transition.

The best thing about accounting software is with a few simple steps, the program will close your books for you, create your balance sheet, income and loss statements, and prepare documents that you’ll need for taxes.  Suggest you get end of year entries from your CPA before you do the year end closing. Types of accounts to watch for? Suggest reconciling your notes payable and confirm you recorded the principal/interest payments; your CPA likely has depreciation to record; update your inventory; review your accounts, write off bad debts.  These are just to name a few, contact your CPA for feedback; it is best practice to have your books match what you file for your income tax return.

Is closing out the books absolutely necessary?

It really is a necessary part of business to close out the books for the year and keep records for yourself and for your tax return. You will need the information to file taxes and it will make April and tax season far less complicated and intimidating. Depending on the accounting software tool you use, it may also improve the application efficiency and data storage.

How do I close the books?

There are a few simple steps to closing your books that are both easy to do and rewarding when finished. You’ll know exactly how profitable you were, if you can afford employee bonuses, and if you have what you need for tax season.  Here are a few steps for the closing of your books:

  • Send invoices and invoice reminders.
  • Collect past-due invoices and decide which invoices you may need to write off or consider a loss.
  • Gather and analyze financial data:
    • Monthly balance sheet
      • Assets, Liabilities, Equity
    • Profit and loss – Income Statement
      • Revenue, Tax Expense, Operating costs, Cost of goods sold, Depreciation, Net income or loss (EBITA)
    • Cash Flow statement
  • Complete an inventory
  • Organize and log business receipts (don’t just put them in a shoe box, to be sorted by your CPA)
  • Complete bank and credit card reconciliations
  • Pay outstanding invoices
  • Back-up your information and run hard copies of documents you will need (See our blog on keeping paper in a paperless world.)
  • Compile tax documents:
    • Financial statements
    • Bank and credit card statements
    • Petty cash records
    • Invoices and receipts
    • Sales records
    • Payroll records
    • Loan information

Tips to make year-end close easier:

There’s no reason to dread year-end close!  There are several on-line resources that provide printable checklists of what to do and how to complete a year end close for small business. Here are a few more tips:

  • Work on your year-end close just one hour a day (complete it in small pieces)
  • Talk to your CPA about what is needed
  • Get help – delegate filing of receipts and tax records
  • Make inventory fun – have an after-hours counting party
  • Reward yourself when you are finished: Think vacations, time off, or that chocolate bar you’ve been hiding in your desk!

For additional information on how to close your year-end and what records you should keep for your small business, contact us at the Small Business Development Center – SBDC – Serving Paris area:  Lamar, Hunt, Hopkins, Delta, and Red River counties.

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How to Find a Great CPA

If you live in the “real” and “normal” world, you probably can’t imagine income in the millions or billions of dollars – although it would be nice! And sure, it would be great if you had a CPA to manage those millions. However, for some small businesses, it can be an effort just to break even, especially when self-employed or when beginning a new business. You might wonder if you really need a CPA, if you can afford one, or if you can manage the numbers of your business on your own. In this blog we’ll talk about why having a CPA is a necessity for a small business owner, rather you are making millions…or just thousands.

Why do I need a CPA?

Think of hiring a CPA as hiring a member of your team. A CPA does more than prepare your business tax documents and file your return, they can actually save you money. A good CPA can advise you on ways to reduce your tax liability and how to find creative tax breaks. They can also stay up to date on the myriad of tax changes that occur each year and will represent you if you are audited by the IRS.  Business financials can be difficult to understand and having a CPA will add a knowledgeable guide to help with all of the financial aspects of your small business.

CPA’s are most knows for filing quarterly and yearly tax documents, but they can do so much more for you and your small business. Here are some things your CPA can handle:

  • Counsel you on ways to increase profits and decrease expenses
  • Give advice on individual investments or retirement planning
  • Help with bookkeeping, payroll and monthly or quarterly reports
  • Forensic accounting (tracing where money comes and goes)

How do I find a great CPA?

First, I would suggest checking your local chamber of commerce business directory.  Our local chambers serving our PJC areas are vested in our business community and a great resource.  Your local SBDC will give you a resource list of local CPA’s.

Next, remember is not every CPA is alike. CPA’s specialize in different industries. Some CPA’s only do industrial management, while others take care of financial matters related to government entities or even non-profit organizations. Take into consideration the type of CPA you are looking for: one who specializes in your small business-type. Here is a list of things to do when finding your own great CPA:

  • Determine their specialty
  • Look up their license: All CPA’s are required to be licensed.
  • Verity their tax ID number: The IRS requires CPAs who prepare taxes to register with the IRS and have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). To verify that a CPA is registered with a PTIN, simply search the IRS Return Preparer Office Directory. 
  • Ask about their experience: Have they filed electronically? Can they manage spreadsheets and different types of software?
  • Will they sign your tax returns? Consider it a red flag if they won’t sign your returns as the preparer.
  • Check their Yelp and Google reviews.
  • Check your local Better Business Bureau
  • Ask your friends and business associates: They may have a CPA that they love and trust
  • Determine their fees: Are they in line with other CPAs? Do they have a fee schedule they share with prospective clients?
  • Conduct your own interview: Make an appointment and sit down with your prospective CPA. If you can ask questions and get answers, while feeling comfortable and confident in their knowledge (and the way they respond to your needs) that will go a long way in helping you determine the best CPA for your small business.

What should a CPA cost?

CPA’s have different costs for different tasks and their fees can vary. Below is an example (only) of “normal” CPA fees in the state of Texas. Please keep in mind that the more specialize your business, the bigger range of fees. In general, the average prices in Texas are:

  • Tax preparation
    • $250 for Form 1040 without itemized deductions.
    • $300 – $500 for an itemized Form 1040 with Schedule A and C.
    • $900 for Form 1120S – S corporation
  • Hourly rate: *Be careful of hourly fees and get a maximum amount ahead of time.
    • $50+ average
  • Quarterly tax documents
    • $50 – $200, depending on complexity

How to save money on a CPA:

CPA’s are necessary for things like tax documentation and filing returns, however you might ask your CPA if they have accountants on hand within their firm. An accountant can often do bookkeeping and prepare financial statements at a lower cost than a CPA.

For additional information how to find a great CPA, or on how to maximize your small business dollar by using an accountant along with a CPA, please contact us at the Small Business Development Center – SBDC – Serving Paris area:  Lamar, Hunt, Hopkins, Delta, and Red River counties.

Money Smart for Small Business

Money Smart for Small Business Training August 2 to September 27th, 2022 Tuesdays @ Noon – 1pm

Click to Register for the zoom link 

A Financial Education Program by the FDIC and SBA.   Benefits:

  • Build a business and create wealth
  • Understand skills required in a start-up
  • Learn skills in business management and operations

Download participant guide to use each week.  We will not be giving a test during this online class, however the pretest in each booklet will help you assess your knowledge and guide questions you may want to address during the weekly session.  See the materials per week:

Week 1:   Is Owning A Business A Good Fit For You?

Week 2: 0809_SB_Planning_for_a_Healthy_Business_PG

Week 3: 0816_SB_Financial_Management_PG

  • Jim Struwe, SBDC Advisor
  • Jennifer Johnston, SBDC Director

Week 4:  0823_SB_Managing_Cash_Flow_PG

Cash Flow Worksheet using Wired Cup example – practice changes to improve the cash flow

  • Jennifer Johnston, SBDC Director

Week 5:  0830_SB_Building_Credit_PG     Extra Resource: FTC Guide on Credit Repair

  • Martin Orrostieta, SBDC Advisor
  • Lender

Week 6:  Happy Labor Day, we will not meet on 9/6/22.

Week 7: 0913_SB_Insurance_PG  we will continue with the banking discussion as well as addressing insurance/risk management.

Week 8: 0920_SB_Tax_Planning_and_Reporting_PG

Week 9: 0927 SB_Selling_Your_Business_and_Succession_Planning_PG

 

Please provide feedback on the course with the SBA-Training-Evaluation-Form  upload to Click here  or email: Jennifer Johnston, jjohnston@parisjc.edu

If you have any questions, contact us at 903.782.0224

#ParisTX #GreenvilleTX  #SulphurSpringsTX #CooperTX #ClarksvilleTX

Are You Ready for the Shark Tank? Pitching Your Business to Investors

** Look at the FREE information we have for you online here with Paris SBDC: Finding and attracting investors

 

Why would you need investors in your small business?

An investor can make a difference that often leads to success for a small business or an inventor looking to promote a distinctive idea or product.

Imagine having a product or unique business that is a Rockstar in the community and you are finding it nearly impossible to keep up with the demand for what you do. The very thought of adding more locations might sound like a slow death sentence by overworking. An investor with the right connections could be the answer to growing your company without increasing your workload. Perhaps that hot sauce your friends and neighbors have promised their first born in exchange for the recipe needs a steady money supply to become a commercial product. This too could happen with the right investor.

For Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle restaurants, family and friends were the investors he sourced the eighty-five thousand dollars he used to open his Mexican grill. While taco shops are nothing new, Chipotle’s fresh grill inspiration came from street vendors in San Francisco. Even today new and interesting taco shops are consistently opening. However, it was Ells’ concept of promoting naturally grown foods that saw it generate seven plus billion dollars of revenue in 2021. That is a lot of tacos and burritos.

 

How do you find investors?

There are many different types of investors for a small business owner to consider. Above all, it comes down to research and finding the right fit for your company. Here are a few options.

-Crowd funding.

Somewhat like a bake sale to help a sick or needy child, this type of funding can also be sophisticated. A concept that relies on a large group of small investors, often the company provides incentives or perks in return. In equity crowdfunding, private company securities are offered to a group of several investors in return for financial backing.

-Bootstrapping.

Bootstrapping, a method of finance by reinvesting your company’s revenue, is how Mrs. Field’s grew her cookie business in the nineteen-seventies. With the concept of selling freshly baked homestyle cookies, they opened several stores and eventually started franchising. Along the way, they purchased other companies offering franchises for those stores as well. Relying on revenue from your company may not be the best for long-term growth. However, investors tend to be keen on businesses willing to put up their own money as part of any potential investment.

-Friends and family.

Those who know your business as well as you do, are often friends or family members. While this may be less complicated than sourcing traditional investors it can come with high expectations that may jeopardize the relationship. If you should decide this is the only method of fundraising, treat the potential investors as you would any other professional. Provide a portfolio and a business outline. Define the when, where and how’s of returns on the investment. Make certain your relationship is sold beforehand, otherwise this may not end well.

-Angel investors.

Angel investors are not from heaven. They are wealthy investors often in your community that are willing to put money into a new business in exchange for equity. Network close to home to find willing angel investors. Go to local startup events, chamber of commerce meetings, even fundraisers. Also, check the internet for places like these:

-Venture Capital.

Venture capital is a private equity form of investment, often sourced during later stages of a grown business startup. Venture capital firms often look for massive growth potential in a company. Think Chipotle Mexican grill after the friends and family investment. Later as the company grew, it was necessary to secure venture capital to finance further expansion across the country. Do your research. Connect with Venture capital companies on LinkedIn or attend a pitch event.

 

What are investors looking for? 

While not all investors have the same end goal, a good return is often a common interest. Otherwise, investors often look for the following.

  • A company or industry they are familiar with
  • Solid data and a strong business plan
  • A management team they can get behind and believe in
  • A unique concept or idea with a large market and competitive advantage
  • A growing company with momentum and solid footing in the marketplace
  • An idea that will generate cash flow with a clear investment strategy

 

Pitching your business to investors

 A business pitch is a persuasive argument to convince a person or investors to invest into your business. Pitches can be as short as twenty second or up to an hour so long as you keep the investors interested. A presentation should include:

  • Correct information including the value of your proposition
  • Specific benefits of your unique product or idea
  • What advantages you have over your competitors
  • Target market, demographics and why customers should choose your product
  • Sales strategies and revenue projections
  • Team members
  • Exit strategy
  • Amount of funding needed

A great business pitch tells a story. Much like the stories of Steve Ells and Mrs. Field found earlier in this blog, these are things easily remembered. In telling your story, draw upon your own experience tying in how your business resolved a relevant problem or solved a need.

Be sure to provide contact information. Should you pitch to an audience, this will help them find you.

Remember to plan for various situations. Slow down, be confident and practice, practice, practice, so that your pitch sounds professional. Be respectful and prepare for difficult questions. Often investors are looking for a resolution to a problem that will make them money.

Be sure to follow up afterward with a brief email or phone call that reminds them of you and your product. Also ask for feedback and correct any issues for any potential future pitches.

 

Do you own a small business and would like additional investors? We can give you the resources you’ll need to pitch your business to investors. Please contact us at the Small Business Development Center – SBDC – Serving Paris area:  Lamar, Hunt, Hopkins, Delta, and Red River counties.