Tax season is probably the most dreaded time of the year for most people. You don’t have to enjoy but you can make it little less annoying and manageable this year. Here are some tips from top virtual bookkeeper and accountants that are sure to make this tax season a little better than the last one.
- Go Digital – You have to admit it, living in the digital era does have its perks. Your documents and tasks are a lot easier to manage and more efficient thanks to digitisation. This can be used to your advantage for taxes as well. Your records are organized, easy to track and will make things better for you when you have to file for your taxes.
- Use the Tax Laws to your advantage– Tax laws can be tricky so it would be wise to get professional help- a virtual bookkeeper or an accountant with experience in taxes to handle your taxes. However it is always prudent to have a working knowledge of the tax laws yourself so that you can ensure you don’t miss anything and end up having to pay penalties.
- Maximise Deductions– Who in their right minds would want to pay more taxes than they have to? Maximise on your deductions with the help of your virtual bookkeeper or accountant so that you can file your taxes without it affecting your cash flow too much. Go through the records and documents with utmost diligence so that you do not miss any opportunity for a deduction.
- Be Thorough– You would be surprised to know what kind of errors people make on their tax forms. Take time to fill the forms accurately; be thorough and patient so that you don’t end up making errors.
A lot of people go overboard and claim excessive deductions. This will backfire because the IRS is mindful of this tendency. Any suspicion is sure to trigger an IRS audit.
Handing over your business’ accounts and books to a virtual bookkeeper can and will not be easy. Business owners have a tough time handing over control of any part of their enterprise to anyone, let alone someone they have never even met. What you need to realise however that is everything is virtual these days; if you want to your business to be the best, you need to make use of all the resources that are available for businesses like yours, one of this being virtual bookkeeping services. All you can do to ensure that your business fares well is to find a good reliable bookkeeper and maintain a good relationship with them.
- State Your Financial Needs Clearly – Proper communication plays an important role in the establishment of any good business relationship, which is why it is crucial that you clearly state what you expect from your virtual bookkeeper and what the terms of the contract are. In the best interests of your company, keep no secrets about your books from your bookkeeper.
- Invest in a Secure Document Transfer Program– It goes without saying that there will be a lot of sensitive and non- sensitive documents passing between the both of you. Hence it is important that you have a secure document transfer system in place. You cannot risk your documents being compromised.
- Check in Regularly– The only way to be really sure you are never swindled is to keep an eye on your books and to check in regularly with your accountants and bookkeepers. Establish a point of contact at the virtual bookkeeper firm and a series of weekly and monthly reports so that you can always keep track of what is happening.
- Request Business Insights– No one works as closely with your books as your bookkeeper, so it goes without saying that they know your books best. Request business insights from your virtual bookkeeper – where you are spending too much money, any trends or patterns emerging in your spending patterns, etc. Such insights can help you make informed business decisions. You can easily enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship with your bookkeeper.
All business owners and entrepreneurs, from retail stores to virtual bookkeeper, have faced them, engaged with them, soothed them and sometimes even fought with them- the dreaded angry customers. Customers can be angry for any number of reasons; but eventually the reason is not what matters- they are upset and they want their issue to be addressed immediately. Customers, angry or not, form the backbone of your business- you need them. Even bad experiences can be turned into positive ones if you deal with them right; here is how you can do that.
- Stay Calm– This is important; you will not make it through the exchange unless you stay calm and think with a level head. Your customer is already upset; you will only add fuel to the fire if you do not get off the aggressive mode.
- Allow Your Customer to Vent and Listen– Everyone knows how calming venting is, so let your customer vent. Allow him to blow off steam and listen to his grievances, real or imagined, whether they are a result of your delivery service or virtual bookkeeper. Once the words are out and he knows you understand, the customer will calm down and in a mood to let you talk.
- Apologise– Once your customer is through, apologise sincerely. Try to look at the situation from the customer’s point of view and apologise for all the inconvenience it has caused the client. Apologising can go a long way in repairing the fractured relationship.
- Address the Grievance– It is now time to take action- address the client’s issue. Reverse the error if possible; if not, provide the client with a compensation (refund or a special offer) for the trouble faced. Make sure you have this noted down correctly for your in-house or virtual bookkeeper.
- Make it Happen– Do not fall back on your promise. Make sure that you fulfil your promise to your client. It also helps if you check on your customer once you have taken care of things to ensure that the issue has been resolved.
That wasn’t too hard, was it? Customers are more likely to return if they feel their concerns were heard and addressed. Let their last encounter with you be a pleasant one. While it is no guarantee that the client will come back, this will ensure that you and your client part on a happier note.
At some point of time, every entrepreneur and business owner has to review and renew their business goals. While the ideal time is the start of a new year, if you feel things aren’t going right, you should step back and analyse your business goals and progress to date. The best way to approach this problem is to break this into two steps- first, analyse the past year and how your previous goals have fared and secondly, review all this information in the light of the new year ahead.
Analysing the Past Year
This can be a raw moment for many as it requires reviewing the company’s performance in the past year with honesty and often brutality.
- Review Past Business Goals– What were your goals for the last year? Did you achieve them? If not, where do you stand in relation with these goals? Were your goals unrealistic? Were they underachieving? Conduct an unbiased review with your team.
- Review Actions and Activities– Identify the specific activities and actions that lead you to where you are, positive and negative. Analyse each activity and understand how you can improve on them, whether you should avoid all together etc. Did hiring a virtual bookkeeper make things better for you? Was renting out more space and equipment a bad move?
Planning New Business Goals
Learn from the mistakes of the past year and be wise when planning your business goals; this will set the tone for the year ahead.
- Identify Priorities– List your priorities- is it growth, revenue etc. Once you know what your priorities are, it will be easier for you to formulate achievable realistic business goals.
- List Steps to Achieve Goals– Identify how you will achieve the set business goals. Discuss this with the personnel involved so that everyone is committed to achieving the goals.
Business goals are important for the growth and development of any business. They are vital to determine where your business is headed and to determine if you are moving in the right direction. Involve your in- house or virtual bookkeeper and accountant in relevant discussions, as chances are they might have something useful to contribute. Discussions involving careful planning and thorough analysis are needed if you want to reach well defined and realistic goals that will help you build and maintain a thriving business.
A number of small and mid- size businesses are investing in virtual bookkeeping. This is simply because of the ever increasing demands on the time and resources of the business owners; handing over the accounting and bookkeeping to the professionals makes things a lot easier for the business owners. While virtual bookkeeping is a good option, there are a few things you need to consider before you finalise on a virtual bookkeeper or a virtual bookkeeping company.
- Must have a good understanding of your industry– It is important that your bookkeeper, virtual or not, has a good understanding of your industry, how it works, industry specific language and terminology. This can make the transition easy and smooth and your bookkeeper will be running the show before you know it. Of course, you can hire a bookkeeper who doesn’t know your industry but this will mean that you have to spend more time teaching them, plus the chances of errors are higher.
- Must provide regular reports– For any virtual bookkeeping process to run smoothly, it is important that your bookkeeper provides you with timely reports. Make sure you stipulate a date for which reports and when they have to be provided when hiring your virtual bookkeeper. Analyse these reports thoroughly so that you don’t miss out on anything and know your finances well.
- Must have good communication skills– Your virtual bookkeeper must be able to communicate with you, your workers and represent you before clients and vendors if needed. He must also be able to present bookkeeping data to you in non financial layman terms if needed. Having a clear line of communication with your bookkeeper is important to maintain a healthy business relationship.
- Must be detail oriented, while being capable of looking at the big picture– Attention to detail is vital for good bookkeeping. Your virtual bookkeeper should be able to notice the minute details of your accounts and bookkeeping, while at the same time, be able to analyse the big picture and predict and prepare for future scenarios.
- Must be trustworthy– Last, but definitely not the least, your bookkeeper should be trustworthy. You need to know that your data will be safe in the hands of your virtual bookkeeping provider. It is always recommended that you take steps to protect yourself, like a confidentiality agreement and bond, no matter how trustworthy your bookkeeper is.
Virtual bookkeeping is here to stay. Its benefits outweigh the disadvantages, so make the best of it because this service is definitely good for your business.