How to put more oomph in your Mondays.


Saturday and Sunday pass by way too fast. Then it comes: Monday morning. Does anyone else suffer from sober weekend hangovers? If you do, we guarantee that you are not alone! We did some research and found some good tips from by Michael Cheary, a content and social media manager,  for helping your Monday be just as fabulous as your weekend. And no we’re not talking about the stereotypical advice like getting up earlier, setting an alarm, or eating a good breakfast (although those all certainly help). These are ideas that you may not have considered to add some pep to your Monday morning step (that flows off the tongue well). 

  1. Find a Monday happy place. Make your Monday’s stand out. Think of what makes you spark and try to recreate it on Mondays. Maybe this means lunch with a co-worker, listening to your favorite playlist as you get ready, or bookmarking something interesting to read during your breaks. 
  2. Put things in perspective. Cheary says, “You may be sleepy. You may lack motivation. You may have even forgotten your umbrella on the day you finally brave the suit/short combo. But no matter how bad your day is, it could almost always be worse. If all else fails, hey, at least it’s not Wednesday.”
  3. Remind yourself about other successful Mondays. Ups and downs come, but remember you have had successful Mondays before. Cheary reminds us of some great historical accomplishments on Mondays. For example on a Monday the man first walked on the moon, the UK’s first cinema opened, and the Deathstar was blown up (probably). The list never stops! 
  4. Make someone’s day. We saved the best for last. Everyone is fighting the Monday morning battle. Don’t be that guy or gal that makes it worse for everyone. Smile, invite a friend to lunch (or better yet pay for their lunch), send a thoughtful text, or say hi to coworkers in the office. 

We hope these tips help you put a pep in your step, and now give you something new to think about on Mondays. If you want to hear the super practical tips like setting the alarm and going to bed earlier, we won’t leave you hanging! Check out the rest of the pointers here

And as Cheary says, “Still not convinced? Sometimes it’s not Monday, it’s you. Maybe find a job worth waking up for!” To that we say check out our Facebook page or our website to see if we are hiring. We often are! 

Happy Monday!

Networking…it’s about bringing people together


Last week I was privileged to attend an event, called Bearfoot Boardroom, with our very own, Julie DeLong, COO of Backyard Bookkeeper. We heard from Dana Ball, a small business lawyer, and Julie. Dana started out by teaching us how to protect ourselves and our small businesses. One point that I found useful (because I’m guilty of this) is to make sure you don’t just use Google to create contracts. The importance of having a binding contract specific to your business is essential in protecting yourself, your business, and your assets. Small business owners have a tendency to DIY as much as they possibly can.  However, when it comes to contracts it’s worth the small fee to have it done right initially.

The other point that really stood out was Dana’s standard of communication with clients. She sets a standard to get back to every client within 24 hours. I really appreciated how she emphasized that our clients are the reason for our business.

After Dana spoke, Julie took a turn and spoke about bookkeeping for a small business. She helped us understand the basics of finding a good bookkeeper.  You want to hire a bookkeeper that knows their stuff, saves you time, and gives you valuable information such as balance sheets, profit and loss statements, etc.  She shared tools that make it easier for business owners such as mileage tracking apps. She also stressed the importance of having updated bookkeeping, so you can make educated decisions and know what your return on investment is, etc.

The real benefit from this event was the conversations that happened in between the speakers. Both Dana and Julie brought up several points that had us talking and asking important questions. We connected with each other and opened up in ways that allowed us to improve our current situation. That connection is what events like these are for. The positive interactions we had together, and those “light bulb” moments  allowed me to leave with specific goals. Thanks to Ellen with Empowering Concepts Group for putting this together! I’m looking forward to more events like this in the future.

 

Author Jess Gainer-Office Manager, Customer Service, Tech Support, and Super Hero. She likes doing things well and wants all those she connects with to feel happier when they leave her presence. Her background includes teaching technology, running an office, bookkeeping, and protecting the world from evil one happy moment at a time. Her passions include extreme sports, building and fixing stuff, making music, playing everywhere she is, and learning.

Building a financially sustainable masterpiece


As a bookkeeper, it has been my privilege to work with hundreds of business owners as they follow their passion to build businesses in all kinds of industries. It is exhilarating when they thrive, and can be heartbreaking when they fail. In any endeavor, but especially when building your own masterpiece, it is essential to consider the costs and make sure you have the resources to reach your goals. Since dealing with financial data is my specialty, I’d like to share three practical tips for ensuring your masterpiece business is financially sustainable and will be able to serve the purpose you dreamt for it.

First, understand the true cost of selling your product or service. 

Do you have a handle on what the cost per unit is in your business? If you sell a product, you have a cost associated with making or buying that product, but you have other directly related expenses, too: the time it takes to process or prepare the product, packaging costs, merchant fees, etc. If you are providing a service, you may have some payroll costs, processing fees, perhaps some supplies or travel expenses, and certainly the cost of your own time. What is the true cost per unit for your business? 

When you know the true cost per unit, you can start asking the critical questions for business planning and development. Am I charging enough? Are there ways I could reduce my direct costs? Is my gross profit (revenue – direct costs as calculated above) enough to cover all my other operating expenses? Is it enough for me to pay myself? How many units do I need to sell to pay myself what I want to earn, or reach the goals I have for my business? 

Knowing and understanding these numbers will help you build a solid financial foundation for your masterpiece business.

Review your balance sheet regularly.

It’s a common mistake for business owners to neglect their balance sheet. They are so focused on making profits they don’t consider it very important and just focus on their income statement. However, the balance sheet is where the major bookkeeping errors show up. If you know you have less than $10k in inventory, but your balance sheet shows $100k, then something is wrong. If your balance sheet shows bank or credit card balances that are negative, then something is wrong. If any of the asset or liability accounts don’t make sense or show an amount that seems unreasonable, then something is wrong. Maybe data is missing, maybe data has been entered in duplicate, but these are all signs that the numbers on your income statement can’t be trusted, and you need to get professional help with your bookkeeping.

Another key when looking at financial reports is to review accrual-based reports, even if you are reporting cash basis financials on your tax return. Accrual reports will tell you so much more about the long-term health of your business. Cash reports can only tell you how much money you have right now; they don’t give you any clue whether you will still have money next week, next month, or next year. 

This is why monitoring what’s happening on a regular basis by looking at the right reports is so essential.

Pay yourself – the right way.

Most business owners know they are supposed to keep business and personal separate, but they still treat the business accounts as an extension of their personal and draw money whenever they need it. It is healthier for your business if you treat it as truly separate, and put yourself on a regular payment schedule. If your business is a corporation, then you are likely paying yourself via paycheck and additional distributions. Otherwise, you are probably just taking draws. 

Either way, treat the business as a truly separate entity, with separate goals and budgets. Think of it as your masterpiece, and treat it accordingly! In a way, it has a life of its own, and you need to respect that. It is so easy as a business owner to make the business’ money subject to your personal financial needs, but simply taking a larger draw when you have a higher than normal personal bill to pay, for example, can jeopardize your business’ financial goals. Treat your masterpiece with the respect it deserves, and give it room to achieve its true potential. 

This article was written by Julie DeLong and published by Choice Magazine.

Julie is an experienced bookkeeper and accountant. Since the founding of Backyard Bookkeeper in 2008, she has worked with over 250 different companies in a wide variety of industries, including construction, nonprofit, health care, consulting, retail sales, online sales, legal, entertainment, real estate, and many more.

Julie also does most of the actual number crunching for the business and would rather play on Quickbooks than Facebook. She has a weakness for superhero movies, Rachmaninov, and chocolate, and loves reading in her spare time.


Closing thoughts on the 68 Annual UN conference in SLC


  • Closing thoughts on the 68 Annual UN conference in SLC
  • Closing thoughts on the 68 Annual UN conference in SLC
  • Closing thoughts on the 68 Annual UN conference in SLC
  • Closing thoughts on the 68 Annual UN conference in SLC

The 68th Annual UN Conference in Salt Lake City came to an end today. It was by far the best booth experience we have ever had. Not only was the entry fee affordable but the conference attracted 6,000 registrants! We were so grateful for the new people we met. Lots of companies out there in the world, initiating good and making change! 

As promised, we want to share the last half of the interview. Before we do that, we want to talk about our conference booth display. We decided to portray all of the nonprofits we work and those with a social agenda. Backyard Bookkeeper loves working with nonprofits and organizations whose mission it is to make our world a better place. It is one way we can support worthwhile social agendas. Those agendas are chosen by people who are invested in making their communities a better place. They educate people, raise awareness and funds, campaign, and utilize volunteers.

The nonprofits and social focused companies we work with include USEE, HEAL Utah, the INN Between, CAWS, Midwives College of Utah, The Wave Women, Utahns Against Hunger, and Digital Respons-Ability. Each one builds sustainable and inclusive communities. We are honored to be a part of their well-being in a small way. 

To wrap up, we wanted to share the last part of our interview. Here is a link to the first part of our interview if you wanted to go back and read that.

These questions are way more deep and go into more controversial issues. These are our own opinions, and we would love to hear yours. 

8. How does proper infrastructure benefit the well-being of the people?

We think a good infrastructure not only keeps people safe, but also makes important resources available and accessible to all. It’s not enough to make it possible for anyone to start a business. We also need to inform everyone where to go to find information and support. No matter how great your resources, if not enough people are using them, then it isn’t doing much good.

9. How can public and civil society tap into the power of technology and harness innovation?

We think that technology simplifies many tasks that would otherwise be too cumbersome for one person to handle. Without technology, it takes a single full time accountant to ensure a small business is compliant with all tax and financial requirements. However with AI and software, that same work can be done for a fraction of the cost and time. Technology spreads the benefits of innovation to significantly more people. Whatever can be done to make technology affordable and accessible to as many people as possible is a good thing. Also society can provide education on the proper use of technology.

10. What is impact investing and why is it a powerful tool to build communities?

BB is always proud to be involved with organizations that benefit the community or improve social welfare in any way. We provide accounting services to those organizations at competitive prices—our own form of impact investing.

11. How can local and regional governments collaborate to create a more sustainable and inclusive communities? 

The key is to write laws and implement policies that make it easy for small businesses to operate and remain compliant in all ways. Additionally, a significant effort needs to be made to not just to talk about inclusiveness, but to actually INCLUDE everyone. 

12. How can the public build communities through education? 

As I said above, beyond just educating people, we need to also have decision making processes that INCLUDE all stakeholders. 

13.  What new forms of global cooperation will we need to shape the future we want?

We need to learn to compromise, discuss peacefully, and negotiate. These days we seem to choose political leaders who are increasingly farther away from the center, as if “standing up for your beliefs” without the possibility of compromise were the best thing for a leader to do. But that means nothing of substance can ever get done. Being able to discuss problems peacefully, learning to see and understand another’s point of view, and finding productive ways to compromise is the only way we will ever achieve our goals as a society.

14. How can society recover from conflict and nurture peace?  

We need to address the basic needs of each individual for food, clothing, shelter, and community. This is possible both through charitable work, but it might be even more important to make sure that all people regardless of gender, race, etc, have an equal opportunity to participate in the economy and the community. When people’s basic needs are satisfied, peace becomes possible.

Thanks for following along with us for the 68th annual UN conference! Maybe see you next year, if the UN comes back!

The United Nations is coming to Salt Lake City!


17 Sustainable Development goals of the United Nations

On August 26th-28th Salt Lake City will host the 68th annual United Nations Conference. Salt Lake City is the first state to host the conference, outside of the UN’s home state of New York. The 68th United Nations Conference theme is building inclusive and sustainable communities.

To mix things up a bit, our assistant interviewed the business owners, Alex Mic-Poder and Julie Delong. We are sharing the interview with our Backyard Bookkeeping audience! Backyard Bookkeeper looks forward to being one of the 6,000 attendees at this conference from 120 different countries!  

1.  Why did you decide to be a part of the upcoming UN Conference.?

      “We believe in the mission and goals of the united nations conference, and we believe Backyard Bookkeeper supports that mission. Also, we want to interact with other organizations and companies with similar goals.”

2. How is Backyard Bookkeeper committed to Sustainability and being Inclusive? 

     “We believe small business is the backbone of the economy, and BB helps other businesses succeed, regardless of size or demographic.”

3. How can women be empowered to strengthen communities?

     “Women can strengthen communities when they have opportunities to use their unique talents to contribute and to participate in the local economy. Unfortunately, many women are not able to find appropriate work or business opportunities. However, BB both offers flexible work arrangements for women looking for work. The business owners of BB itself are women as well.”

4. Why do you think the United Nations chose Utah to be the first city to host the UN conference outside of NY headquarters? 

      “Well, the simple answer is because one of our friends campaigned for it! LOL. SLC is a great hub for the United Nations conference. It has international interests and internationally minded people. The city is close to one of the newer tech centers of the country (Silicon Slopes), and it’s a great place for innovative business ideas to get a start.”

5. What do you think youth and young adults can do to create an inclusive and sustainable community?

     “Youth can volunteer, seek employment, or start new ventures.”

6. How can society recover from conflict and nurture peace?

     “We need to address the basic needs of each individual for food, clothing, shelter, and community. Addressing these basic needs, is possible both through charitable work, and ensuring that all people regardless of gender, race, etc, have an equal opportunity to participate in the economy and the community. Peace happens when people’s basic needs are satisfied.   Several exhibitions and workshops at the united nations conference answer this question as well.”

7. How can we create more opportunities and economic success for youth?

      “We create more opportunities for youth, when we emphasize college education less and actual work experience more. Many college degrees don’t impart real job skills and just leave students with crippling debt. Therefore, we need to remove the stigma associated with not getting a college degree and encourage youth to experiment with work study programs and apprenticeships. Consequently youth gain real life experience rather than prolonging an educational experience that prolongs their dependence on others. (This is a controversial topic, these are just our personal views. Not sure how helpful they are here.)”

Please check back the week of the United Nations Conference in Salt Lake City for the second half of our interview! Check out the UN website for more information.

Tax Deductions for 2018


*This article was written by expert accountant Angie DeLong.*

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), passed and signed into law in December 2017, significantly altered the tax deductions that businesses may claim for meals and entertainment expenses.  Some tax deductions remain unchanged under the TCJA, but others have been reduced or entirely eliminated.

 

This chart summarizes the main changes effective for tax years beginning in 2018.

 

Expense Category Old Rules 2018 Rules
Meals and entertainment for current or potential clients, consultants, or other business contacts ·      Meals: 50% deductible.

·      Tickets to sporting events, concerts, etc. and costs of other types of entertainment: 50% deductible.

·      Tickets to qualified charitable events:  100% deductible.

·         Food and beverages purchased separately: 50% deductible.

·         Food and beverages itemized separately on entertainment bill, invoice, or receipts:  50% deductible.

·         Food and beverages not separately charged: not deductible!

·         Entertainment costs: not deductible!

 

Meals provided to employees for the convenience of the employer ·      100% deductible if excluded from employee’s gross income as de minimis fringe benefits.

·      50% deductible otherwise.

 

·         50% deductible during tax years 2018 – 2025.

·         Nondeductible beginning in 2026!

Qualifying de minimis employee food items, such as coffee, snacks, birthday cake, etc. ·      100% deductible. ·         TCJA says 50% deductible, but it appears that this was not Congress’ intent.  IRS technical corrections will likely change to 100% deductible.

 

So what constitutes “entertainment”?  The IRS definition includes any activity generally considered to provide entertainment, amusement, or recreation.  For example, nightclubs, sporting events, concerts, outdoor recreation, and trips may all be considered entertainment.  The cost of providing entertainment experiences for current or potential customers and business contacts is not tax deductible in 2018.

 

Many businesses are used to lumping meals and entertainment into one category, trusting the tax accountant to sort it all out and claim the proper deduction.  That kind of record-keeping is no longer sufficient.  Before closing the books on the 2018 tax year, it’s important to re-examine those meals and entertainment expenses.  You may need to add some new expense categories, make necessary reclassifications, and add clarifying details.  For example, if you can identify separately invoiced or purchased meals that were part of an overall entertainment expense, your client will have a tax deduction that would otherwise have been lost.  You might want to create a QuickBooks expense category specifically for those meals.  You’ll save tax dollars and your tax accountant will thank you!

 

The TCJA left some items untouched.  Tax deductions by businesses for the following meal and entertainment expenses were not changed by the TCJA.

Still 50% deductible:

·         Employee travel meals.  The travel expenses must be an ordinary and necessary cost of traveling away from home for business.  “Away from home” means that business duties require the worker to be away from the general area of his/her tax home for a period substantially longer than a day’s work, and he/she needs to get sleep or rest to meet the demands of work while away from home.

·         Business meetings of employees, stockholders, agents, directors, etc.

·         Expenses for attending a business meeting or convention of a 501(c)(6) organization, business league, chamber of commerce, real estate board, etc.

Still 100% deductible:

·         Meals and entertainment expenses treated as employee compensation;  i.e., the amount is included in the employee’s W-2 income.

·         Meals, entertainment, prizes, and awards includible in the gross income of nonemployees and contractors.

·         Office parties, picnics, summer outings, etc. provided primarily for the for employees.

·         Promotional meals provided to the general public.

continue reading

The Benefits of Staying on Top of Things


I have a friend in the mortgage industry and lately he’s been “complaining” that there is not much to do at work. Complaining is probably not the right word for it, except that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for him to pretend he’s working now that he’s started to bring his guitar to work and is showing off his handstand abilities to his co-workers. Last year at this time, he was complaining because of how much work there was to do. He had to stay late and even work a couple Saturdays to stay on top of the workload. There was no guitar playing or handstanding that year. All joking aside, he had a meeting today that laid out the stats for his department.

 

Here is the important information to know because it will validate my point:

 

2017 2018
Loans to process LOTS (100%) 3% less than LOTS (97%)
Number of people in his department 20 15

That’s right, only 3% less volume of work being done by 25% less people. And yet 2018 is the year their department feels like there is nothing to do.

 

“What made the difference?” you ask…well, that’s what I asked.

 

“Staying on top of things,” he replied. He then went on to explain that in 2017 his department was perpetually 3 days behind. A loan would be ready and it would take 3 days before it was processed. In 2018, their department decided it was time to get caught up. They began working to ensure that loans were processed as soon as they were ready. That changed everything.

Even when the amount of employees working went down, and work volume stayed virtually the same (which actually increased the amount of loans each employee processed if you do the math), they were able to stay ahead of the game. *Cue the guitars and handstands.* The difference came because there were no longer complaint emails and phone calls. And everyone’s stress level went down because they didn’t feel behind. The volume of actual work done increased, but customer service improved and suddenly work became easier. They went from “putting out fires” on last day loans to providing excellent customer service and enjoying their work day more when they forged ahead and stayed ahead.

 

What does this have to do with bookkeeping? Good question. This is, after all, a blog for a bookkeeping company.

 

First of all, it’s a good reminder to us all to stay on top of our bookkeeping. Work has this funny tendency of not going away when you ignore it, and even getting more difficult as time goes on. When you stay on top of your bookkeeping, it’s a lot easier to solve the financial problems that come because you are aware of them. Work doesn’t pile up and finances are easier to interpret when it’s not just a guessing game.

 

Secondly, this is just one more reason to hire Backyard Bookkeeper. I can’t tell you how many phone calls I’ve had with potential clients saying the same basic things: I can’t keep up anymore. I need to take something off my plate. I’m not doing what I love because I’m stuck trying to figure out QuickBooks/CosmoLex/Billy/Xero. When you delegate responsibilities to people who love to do the work, everyone stays on top of things better. We get to enter the numbers and you get to focus on the parts of your business that you love, the things you started your business for. And when you stay on top of business, it does better. Not only that, but you will have more time to play guitar, do handstands, be with your family, or do whatever other hobbies you choose to pick up.

 

So here’s to getting things done efficiently and in a timely manner. Let us know if we can help.

 

Some of the Many Reasons to Hire a Bookkeeper


Top reasons to hire a bookkeeper

Is it worth it to hire a bookkeeper? I believe it is, for many reasons; mostly because it allows a business owner to focus on their business. Knowing I wouldn’t think of all the good reasons to hire a bookkeeper, I polled my co-workers in the ultimate question of their job “Why hire a bookkeeper?” Who better to ask than the people who do the work?

Here are their answers, in no particular order:

  • Classic client answer: so we can “make it all go away”
  • A second pair of eyes. Even the most meticulous people make mistakes sometimes.
  • Because without knowing how much comes in you won’t know how much you can spend
  • My husband says ‘P&L’s? Does that mean we’re having pie & lobster?’*
  • My clients say “I didn’t get into this business to be a bookkeeper, I want to get back to doing MY job.”
  • So tax-time is not full of surprises!

And this list is just a few of our thoughts. We have company full of employees who LOVE their jobs and LOVE bookkeeping. I have heard from several of my co-workers that this is their dream job (mine, too). We love what we do and we would love to be part of your team. As we at Backyard Bookkeeper say, “Let us do your dirty work.”

*P&L stands for Profit and Loss, a report that is vitally important if you own a business and will tell you nothing if your bookkeeping is not accurate. Go Bookeepers!

Meetings are for Morale


If you had taken a glimpse into Backyard Bookkeeper’s most recent in person company meeting, there are a few things you’ll notice that are different than most meetings I’ve been a part of.

  1.       People were smiling and laughing
  2.       Everyone was engaged in what is going on, note taking, listening intently, participating.
  3.       Things got done.
  4.       We all walked away feeling better about our jobs than when we walked in.

I have to admit at this juncture that we have boring meetings just like everyone else, so what made the difference this time? In order to have an effective meeting, it should be purposeful and present relevant information, solve problems, and most importantly boost morale. A happy employee is a productive employee.

At our most recent company meeting, we started by listening to a great presentation from Ryan Beck from Mountain West Advisors. He talked to us about personal finance and steps to getting ourselves in a great financial position. Given our background as bookkeepers, this was helpful on a professional and personal level. We were able to get some great advice on personal finances and also have some valuable tools and contacts to share with our clients.

After Ryan’s presentation, the majority of our time was spent with Angie DeLong, an Enrolled Agent with more than 25 years of experience with tax law.  Our bookkeepers better understood their part of the financial process as they heard from her. Identifying where their job fit in with everything else helped give them insight and more confidence in their place. Even though we keep our bookkeepers from advising on tax issues, it was valuable for them to know about tax law so they can better categorize items. Many of our bookkeepers let us know how helpful it was to better understand their place as bookkeepers within the bigger financial picture of their client’s companies.

Then we ended with a lot of morale boosting talk from Alex and Julie (the owners), reminding us to work as a team and prioritize our lives. They made us feel appreciated and important. We celebrated Backyard Bookkeeper’s 10th anniversary and walked away with personalized gifts.

I use this example of our company meeting as a great structure for any meeting:

  1.       Start with an agenda that is good for your employees on a personal and professional level.
  2.       Show them how their job fits into the big picture and give them the tools they need to fit well as that piece of the puzzle.
  3.       Celebrate your employees, the company, and teamwork. Boost Morale, so when they leave they feel they are supported.

Let Your Job Sponsor Your Life


Let your job sponsor your life: a change in perspective

There’s a moment in everyone’s life where you wake up and think, “Ugh! I have to go to work today.” Even people who love their jobs have this moment every once in a while.

For me a solution that allows me change my perspective on those days is to remind myself that this job is sponsoring my life. It requires some of my time, just like any sponsor does, but I can see physical evidence of the great things my job does for me all around. I live in a house, I have transportation, I have clothing and get to spend time with my family doing the things I love, all because I have a job.

Real life example of what I’m talking about in kid terms: My son really wants to buy some ice cream from the ice cream truck, but I just can’t justify the expense. The other day, he found some money in his room and got really excited, “Mom! If I save my money, I can buy ice cream from the ice cream truck all by myself!”

“You’re right. Go for it.”

When something is important to us, we work for it. What is important to you in your life? What could you have a goal for that would make going to work exciting? For my son, it’s the ice cream truck. If I only focus on the bare minimum, on the things I need to survive, then work becomes about survival. It becomes drudgery, fight or flight. When I think to myself-I’m gonna let my job sponsor my life, I really want __________________________ (fill in the blank with something that would make your life better); suddenly my job is exciting because of the thing I am working for. That thing could be as simple as ice cream, or as big as a vacation, or tool to do thing you’ve always wanted to try.

After writing this, I am going to re-approach my budget and my goals list. I am going to let my job sponsor my life. I have a list of “cool thing I want” that I add to on a regular basis. It’s time to prioritize that list and let my sponsor provide the life I love.

Thank you Backyard Bookkeeper, for sponsoring my life.

1 2 3 4