Common Business Expenses that Can Make or Break Your Business

It is important for businesses both big and small to keep track of their expenses. Even a very small business with only a few employees should understand its financial situation. Ignorance, after all, is not bliss. It’s just expensive.

To help keep track of where money is going to, it can help to map out expenses by category. This will not only help any business plan for the future, but it will also be a big help when it comes to tax time.

While you can’t foresee every single business expense, you can definitely pick out some of the more common ones. These are the biggest expenses, and the costs that reoccur.

Which expenditures am I talking about? Read on to find out.

Location Costs

Businesses come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but even the smallest one has location costs. This might include the mortgage or lease on a property, the cost of utilities like electricity, heat, and water, and services like internet, phone, and even property maintenance. These services may be more difficult to record when the business is run out of a home office, but you can calculate a business expense deduction based on the area of the home that is used exclusively for work. Professionals offering bookkeeping services can help entrepreneurs sort these issues out.

Wages, Salaries, & Benefits

A significant portion of a business’s expenses can be the wages, salaries, and benefits of its employees. Because there are different types of employees who may be salaried, or paid by the hour, and eligible for different types of benefits, it can be an intricate puzzle sorting this out. There are business services for entrepreneurs that can be a big help in tracking the complexities of employees wages, salaries, and benefits.

Office Expenses

All businesses need some office supplies. Paper, printer ink, equipment rental, post office expenses, and cleaning supplies are a few of the more common expenses that most businesses will acquire. Depending on your business, there will be other expenses you will need to track that are specific to your industry. If this seems like an overwhelming task, a virtual office assistant can not only help you determine types of expenses but track them as well.

Advertising & Marketing

Marketing your business can make up a significant portion of your business expenses. This might include print or digital advertising, like newspaper, magazine, or online ads, or promotional materials and products. If you attend seminars or trade shows, there will be business expenses to track there. Be sure to consider all aspects of advertising like free samples and even website costs.

Loans, Lines of Credit, & Taxes

Don’t forget to account for loan repayment and maintenance, as well as lines of credit, credit cards, and bank fees. Bookkeeping services can be invaluable help in tracking your expenses in this area. You might also need to consider other fees, like professional associations or trade groups. All of this should be included in your business expenses.

At The End Of The Day

Of course, there will be expenses that you incur that are specific to your industry and instance; however, regardless of your circumstances, it is essential that you track expenses so you can understand the financial health of your business. It also makes tax time much easier. But don’t panic if this seems like an impossible task. Consider the help of professional bookkeeping services or virtual office assistant who offer business services for entrepreneurs. They can not only free up your time so you can focus in on the parts that matter most to you, but they can also help you save money and headache in the long run.

Need help streamlining your business expenses and creating a more robust bottom line? Drop me a line! From administration to bookkeeping, my specialized services for professionals can help.

Should you Use Cloud-Based Accounting Software?

Did you know that almost half of small business owners and executives consider bookkeeping and taxes to be the least enjoyable part of running a business?

Despite this dislike, 20% of small business owners still do their bookkeeping by hand, while 46% continue to depend on traditional desktop software, rather than try cloud-based accounting. Some studies have even found that small businesses have been more hesitant to move to cloud-based solutions for accounting than for any other business operation.

It’s true that bookkeeping and accounting can be expensive, complex, time-consuming, and the source of various administrative frustrations. But with the advent of cloud-based accounting software, some of those frustrations could be alleviated.

So, read on to find out whether cloud-based accounting software could make your business more efficient and relieve the burden of bookkeeping from your shoulders.

What is Cloud-Based Accounting Software?

Do you use online banking? Have you ever stored files on Google Drive? If so, you’re already familiar with the cloud. It is a system that allows for the storage of data and software online, instead of on your computer’s hard drive.

The more experience you have with websites and Internet-based software, the less time it will take for you to master the system, especially as many cloud-based accounting solutions are designed to be simple and user-friendly. So, what does cloud-based accounting software do?

Cloud-based accounting software handles your basic bookkeeping and accounting functions. All of the major players in cloud-based accounting software perform the same basic functions: tracking accounts payable and receivable, invoicing, customer and vendor profiles, bank synchronization and reconciliation, bill management, financial reporting, and cash flow snapshots. Many also offer payroll, inventory, quotes, and other services as add-ons, or as part of a package.

Accountants and Software: The Perfect Match

Did you know that ranks accounting/taxes as the #1 task entrepreneurs should outsource to professionals? I couldn’t agree more!
Both business owners and executives agree that accountants are the most important professionals used by small businesses, supplanting attorneys, and bankers.

You might be wondering if accountants are afraid that cloud-based software will replace them. Surely they would see it as a threat? Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Accountants and bookkeepers play a huge role in encouraging small businesses to adopt cloud software. In fact, software companies often market directly to accountants and bookkeepers.

Bookkeepers and accountants tout cloud-based software for so many great reasons. For one, they no longer have to worry about constant software updates/maintenance. Two, it provides business continuity and quick disaster recovery. And three, the biggest benefit often championed by professionals in the field is improved productivity.

By replacing the monotony of data entry and manual reporting with automated solutions and real-time collaboration, bookkeepers and accountants can focus on giving sound business advice to their clients. Cloud-based bookkeeping allows for business owners to have more control and flexibility in their accounting solutions!

Who Are The Major Players?

The most popular cloud-based accounting solutions are Intuit QuickBooks Online, Xero, and Wave. Each option varies in terms of pricing and features, thus some options are appropriate for certain businesses, but not others. This is the reason why ratings for all three tend to be inconsistent, across various reviewers.

Competitors include FreshBooks, which focuses on invoicing and is very popular among freelancers and sole proprietors; Zoho Books, although this software lacks payroll integration; KashFlow, NutCache; and FreeAgent. There are also more advanced and expensive solutions such as Intacct, NetSuite, Financial Force, and Sellsy.

Today, Intuit QuickBooks Online drives 89% of traffic, with Xero and Wave at almost 5% and 4%, respectively. Here at Milky Way VAS, I am a certified QuickBooks Proadvisor, as well as a Xero Certified Proadvisor.

Which Solution is Right For You?

In order to make the proper decision about which cloud-based accounting software is right for your business, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is your budget for accounting?
  • How many invoices do you create every month?
  • Does the software need to scale with your business?
  • How many users need to access the system?
  • What reports do you need, and to what degree will customization be required?
  • Do you need payroll services? How many employees do you have?
  • Do you want inventory solutions within your accounting solution?
  • What other software are you already using that you’ll need to integrate with?
  • Do you use a smartphone for business?

As long as you choose an option that suits your business, switching to cloud-based software should make the financial management of your business so much easier.

The Benefits of Cloud-Based Accounting Software for Small Businesses

Access it Anywhere

All you need is an internet connection and a mobile device to access your cloud-based accounting software from anywhere in the world. You can even grant access to multiple employees, meaning team members can quickly and easily complete their work regardless of their physical location. Whether a sales rep needs to add expense receipts, or a project manager needs to check an invoice for a supplier, having cloud-based tools in place makes organizing and accessing important information as easy as taking a picture of a document or searching by vendor, amount, or date.

Added Security

Many people believe that having online-only software is risky, but in fact using cloud-based software actually reduces risk when compared to the average computer-based software program. Why? Well, reputable cloud providers protect your data through the use of passwords and advanced encryption techniques. They also facilitate the dissemination of that data over multiple, highly secured servers. When it comes to PC-based programs, they are more vulnerable to data loss through file corruption and system crashes, and your sensitive information is always at risk whenever it’s stored or transferred externally from one source or physical location to another.

Maintain your Business’ Reputation

As a small business owner, you’re probably very aware of how damaging a software glitch or error can be to your professional credibility. Thus, working in the cloud assuages the downside of service delays and data loss. A host of qualified cloud providers and software developers are always on hand to oversee and resolve any possible issues with their online programs. Not only does this allow you to seamlessly get on with business as usual, but in most cases, it also translates into a significant time and cost savings where program maintenance and repairs are concerned.

The Most Up-to-Date Information is Always at Hand

By using cloud-based accounting software, entries are progressively updated in real time. This means you’ll always be able to retrieve the most up-to-date information available for your business, whether it’s related to payroll, taxes, or cyclical reports. As a small business owner, I’m sure you already see the value in that! Being able to access accurate and timely data is one of the most important factors for making better business decisions.

The Bottom Line

Should you use cloud-based accounting software for your small business? The answer is yes! But if you truly want the most efficient, hassle-free way to handle your small business’ financials, then you’ll not only want proper cloud-based accounting software but also a professional to be in charge of using that software.

At Milky Way VAS, you can rest assured that your business’ books are in the hands of a true professional who actually cares about the success and growth of your business. As a certified QuickBooks Proadvisor and Xero Certified Proadvisor, I make it a point to handle all your bookkeeping needs. From bookkeeping set up, to payroll, to customer invoicing, to tax preparation and filing, your business is sure to benefit from my experience!

I believe in building a relationship with you and your books so that I can understand your business and help advise you about the best choices for your finances. So, if you’re a small business owner in Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area, don’t hesitate to reach out to Milky Way VAS. I am always happy to answer your questions and figure out all your bookkeeping needs!

Bookkeeping: How and What to Delegate

Did you know a recent study by a U.S. Bank found that 82% of the time, small businesses fail due to poor cash flow management or poor understanding of cash flow? Wow, that’s a really big number!

As a small business owner in a busy urban center like Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area, it’s no surprise that you are used to kicking butt all by yourself – handling anything and everything, from creating your sales funnel, to managing your social media. But as your business expands, you may find yourself overwhelmed by all the tasks piling up on your to-do list.

If that sounds like you, then maybe it’s time to think about delegating some of those tasks. And you know what the best place to start with is? That’s right, it’s best to start by delegating your bookkeeping!

Why? Because chances are you are a creative, passionate, hardworking solopreneur, but not exactly a stellar numbers person. As we saw from the above survey, having a professional manage your books can mean the difference between a successful business or going bust within five years.

Plus, now that accounting software has moved to the cloud, it’s easier than ever to outsource your bookkeeping without hiring a full-time employee to do so. That means you’ll get the advantage of hiring a professional without paying as much in employee benefits, sick days, etc. Can you say winning?

Entrusting your bookkeeping responsibilities to an external service provider will help ease business-related stress while freeing up time for you to focus on what is most important: growing your business.

Here are five examples of how and what to delegate to an outsourced bookkeeper so that your business can grow and succeed:

1. Weekly/Monthly Transaction Entry

Although this may seem like a simple task, it’s a crucial one! Making a mistake on your sales entries can cost your business, big time. Not to mention that, as the boss of your own business, tedious and recurring tasks are just keeping you bogged down. Free up your precious time by delegating this area to a professional bookkeeper and watch your business grow!

2. Customer Invoicing

Invoices are obviously essential to your business. Without invoicing, you wouldn’t get paid, so it’s extra important to ensure that all your invoices are clear, concise, and accurate. By letting a professional bookkeeper handle customer invoicing, you’ll be able to relax knowing that your invoices are being sent out on time and correctly, as well as being followed up on to ensure prompt payment on time.

3. Payroll

Payroll can get complicated and it’s not something you can afford to make a mistake on if you want to ensure a happy team! Why risk it when you can hire a professional bookkeeper with experience in this area? From timesheet entries, to government remittance forms, to CRA audit support, hiring a professional bookkeeper can really free up your precious time and reduce the logistical stress of having to pay a large team of employees.

4. Reporting

Although reports may seem boring, they’re incredibly important when it comes to painting the bigger financial picture for your business. If you don’t excel in this area, you’ll never be able to harness the true power of accurate reporting. Hire a professional bookkeeper to set up proper reports and handle your year-end reporting. This way, you’ll not only free up your time but you’ll get a second set of eyes to help catch things about your business you may have missed by trying to do it all alone.

5. Taxes

Like they say, there’s only two things that are guaranteed in life – death and taxes. Tax season is going to come, whether you like it or not, so why make it a bigger headache then it has to be? By having a professional bookkeeper keeping track of all your finances, tax time won’t actually be that stressful! Many bookkeepers will handle both federal and provincial filing, and help you with tax preparation. Even if you have an accountant going over the final return, they’re sure to thank you for having a bookkeeper who kept your finances neat and organized all year round!

So now that you know what to delegate to a good bookkeeper, how should you go about finding one?

First, you need to clearly define your bookkeeping needs, then interview on those terms. It’s important to make sure all applicants have experience with your accounting software of choice, or can recommend an accounting software that’s right for your business. Once you have some candidates in mind, check their professional qualifications and memberships, ask for references, and make sure their availability suits your business requirements.

Or instead of going to all of that time-consuming trouble, you can simplify the whole process by hiring Milky Way VAS! Not only do I handle basic bookkeeping tasks, but I got your business covered when it comes to payroll, customer invoicing, financial reports, tax preparation, and even tax filing! I am a QuickBooks ProAdvisor and a Xero Certified Advisor who offers professional cloud-based outsourced bookkeeping.

Not only am I results driven and responsible, but I truly care about each and every one of my clients. If you’re successful, it means I’m successful too!

So what are you waiting for? Contact Milky Way VAS today! I am more than happy to answer all your questions and truly get to know your business, in order to provide the best financial advice and support.

What’s the Difference Between an Accountant and a Bookkeeper?

Are you running a small business in Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area? If so, you may be looking to outsource some of your administrative work to a bookkeeper or accountant. But do you know which one your company requires more?

When most people think about bookkeeping and accounting, they would be hard-pressed to describe the differences between each role. It’s true that bookkeepers and accountants do share common goals of supporting your business in different stages of the financial cycle. However, bookkeeping is more transactional and administrative, while accounting is more subjective. Bookkeepers are primarily concerned with recording and tracking your financial transactions. Accountants generally offer you business insights based on the bookkeeping information.

Read on to find out the functional differences between accounting and bookkeeping, as well as the differences between the roles of bookkeepers and accountants. With this information, you will be able to make an informed decision about who you need to hire for your small business!

The Role of a Bookkeeper

Bookkeeping is the process of recording daily transactions in a consistent way that’s crucial to building a financially successful business.

Bookkeeping consists of:

  • Recording financial transactions
  • Posting debits and credits
  • Producing invoices
  • Maintaining and balancing subsidiaries, general ledgers, and historical accounts
  • Completing payroll

Keeping a general ledger is one of the main parts of bookkeeping. The general ledger is a basic document where a bookkeeper records the amounts from sale and expense receipts. This is known as posting. The more sales that are completed, the more often the ledger is posted. A ledger can be created with specialized software, a computer spreadsheet, or the old-fashioned way – on paper.

When it comes to choosing the type of bookkeeping system you need, it often depends on the size of your business and the number of transactions that are completed daily, weekly, and monthly. All sales and purchases made by your business need to be recorded in the ledger, with certain items needing supporting documents.

Here at Milky Way VAS, I am a QuickBooks ProAdvisor and a Xero Certified Advisor. I use these cloud-based programs to offer your business professional outsourced bookkeeping.

The Role of an Accountant

Accounting is a process that takes the financial information organized by a bookkeeper or business owner and uses it to generate financial models. The process of accounting is more subjective than bookkeeping, which is mostly transactional.

Accounting consists of:

  • Preparing adjusting entries (recording expenses that have occurred but aren’t yet recorded in the bookkeeping process)
  • Preparing company financial statements
  • Analyzing costs of operations
  • Completing income tax returns
  • Aiding the business owner in understanding the impact of financial decisions

The process of accounting provides reports that bring crucial financial indicators together. The result is a better understanding of actual profitability and an awareness of cash flow in the business. Accounting turns the information from the ledger into statements that uncover the bigger picture of your business and the path it is on. Business owners will often look to accountants for help with strategic tax planning, financial forecasting, and tax filing.

A Cross-Over in Roles

Since the advent of accounting and bookkeeping software, some parts of the accounting process have simply been absorbed into the bookkeeping process. For instance, here at Milky Way VAS, I don’t just handle the basic bookkeeping. I do it all! From accounts payable, accounts receivable, and bookkeeping set up, to tax filing and tax preparation – when you hire Milky Way VAS, you’re getting a complete, efficient service that doesn’t require multiple people for the job.

But you know what else?

I care about each and every one of my clients.

I believe in building a relationship with you and your books so that I can understand your business and go the extra mile to offer advice about the best choices for your finances. Your success is my success, and I’ll go above and beyond to ensure that you’re making all of the best choices when it comes to your small business in Toronto.

The Bottom Line

Organized financial records and properly balanced finances are the key to any successful business. In fact, 30% of small businesses fail within two years because their expenses far outweigh their profits. When you hire Milky Way VAS, you’re basically saving money because we’ll stay on top of your books to make sure that never happens to your small business.

So, if you were sitting there debating between an accountant or a bookkeeper, why not hire Milky Way VAS and get the best of both worlds? I’ll be happy to handle payroll, customer invoicing, and so much more! Even if you already have an accountant on staff, I’m more than happy to liaison with them.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Milky Way VAS. I am more than happy to answer your questions and build a plan for all your financial needs.

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