Accounting, Bookkeeping, and QuickBooks Tips for Small Businesses

Posts in category Peachtree

SageOne Review

SageOne - Online Bookkeeping for Small Busienss Owners

This week I took a look at SageOne, a new online accounting tool from Sage Software. I really enjoy working with Peachtree, now known as Sage50. So I was thrilled to see Sage’s announcement of offering online bookkeeping software. Sadly, I was extremely disappointed with SageOne. It is easy to use and has a beautiful screen appearance. However, the software’s simplicity is too basic and is missing a lot of important accounting features that have become the norm with other cloud based accounting software providers. As I played around with SageOne, I kept thinking this is very similar to FreshBooks, yet FreshBooks is one hundred times better. I have hope for SageOne and believe it will improve with future developments. I think there is future potential for SageOne, but Sage needs to quickly get the ball rolling if they want to have a chance to compete in the online accounting software market. The competition is fierce.

Cost: $29/month, Free Trial

What I Love:

  • The online accounting interface is very pretty and easy to navigate.
  • Very simple to set up and get started. They offer a video tutorial to walk you through a couple of steps, then you’re up and running. Piece of cake.
  • The ability to track Projects and Tasks is a cool idea and has lots of potential. SageOne lets you create projects, assign tasks to employees, track hours spent on the tasks, has a message center to communicate with your employees, and you can attach files. The collaboration tools are a great way to keep track of your team and the work being done.
  • Invoicing customers is easy. You can enter the amount to bill, or pull hours worked from the project and task center. You can add your own logo and have a choice of a couple different invoice layouts. Invoices can be emailed from SageOne and sent to customers as attached PDF documents.
  • Easy to manually enter your expenses to keep track of where you spend money. There was an option to link the expenses to your projects. This seems like a great idea, but you can’t pull up these linked expenses later to invoice to the customer, there were no reports to see profit/loss per project, it didn’t show up on the project window to compare against your estimated project expenses, etc. So I’m not sure why this option was there, except for future development maybe?
  • Easily record transfers between bank accounts.
  • Standard bank reconciliation feature, which is a great double check that you recorded all of your deposits and expenses. It was easy to add missing deposits, checks, and a link for accountants to make an adjusting entry.
  • The dashboard offers a graph so small business owners can see their profit/loss during the year. You can also easily see which customers owe you money and track your projects from your dashboard.
  • I’ve heard rumors of an accountant portal coming later this year. This would be a great tool so SageOne could keep a basic interface for small business owners, while giving accountants, bookkeepers, and CPAs more advanced tools.
  • SageOne offers the ability to set up email notifications to be reminded of past due invoices, upcoming project due dates, and when you receive project messages from your team members. Don’t want a lot of emails? You can opt for the daily digest email and get all notifications in one email instead.
  • My Wish List:

    • A sad array of reports. Yes, they offer the top 3 reports, but that’s it. Currently SageOne only offers a balance sheet, income statement, and aged receivables (money owed from customers) reports.
    • What, you can not download your bank transactions? SageOne doesn’t automatically connect to your bank accounts, credit card accounts, and PayPal? Seriously? Isn’t this industry standard? Very disappointing. Data entry is a thing of the past, this alone could kill their product.
    • I guess they’re trying to offer a more cash based accounting model. When you enter an invoice, the income does not appear as income on the profit/loss (Income Statement). Instead, it shows up on your balance sheet as “potential sales” under your liabilities. I found it interesting when creating an invoice, you don’t have the ability to record the sales to an income account. Then, when you record payment from your customer, you get the option to post the sales to an income account. Therefore, after you receive and record the customer payment, then the work shows up as income on the profit/loss statement. I understand most very small businesses operate on a cash basis (or checkbook accounting as I like to call it), but this makes it really difficult to track how much money you’re actually making each month. Not to mention, would I remember a month later what services where for each invoice, especially if I work with a lot of clients?
    • Along the same lines as above, you can not record one customer payment against various income accounts. For example if you run a landscaping company, you might invoice your customer for landscape design services and installation. On the invoice, you can break out different projects. However, you can not record income from these two services to different income accounts when your check arrives.
    • No online payments from customers available.
    • SageOne does not integrate with any of the other Sage products.
    • There is no import/export function.
    • SageOne does not support payroll. This is really surprising since their projects and tasks are built to support employees and team members working together. So, if you have employees, you will need another accounting program to account for payroll.
    • Small business owners can not enter bills and keep track of money owed to vendors, utilities, rent, etc. Only cash expenses can be entered in SageOne.
    • I would love to see the Projects/Tasks tracking features expanded. It’s nice you can enter estimated hours to complete, estimated expenses, and estimated billable fees. However, it would be great to easily see how much you’ve actually spent on expenses and billed for the project/tasks as compared to your estimates. SageOne will compare your estimated time against the time already spent. However, tracking hours is a manual task and there is not a time clock.
    • I don’t believe SageOne has an iPhone, Droid, or other smartphone apps.

    I’m sad to report that at this time I would not recommend SageOne to my customers. It’s very similar to FreshBooks, but FreshBooks offers a lot more services and at a better price. For that matter, at $29/mo you could also use Xero and get a full accounting package. I’m disappointed with Sage. It’s almost as if they threw together an online accounting software so they could say they offer cloud based accounting solutions. I have a feeling they hoped customers would not see past the pretty interface and user friendly application. SageOne has some good ideas, but has a long way to go to be competitive with other cloud based accounting solutions that are currently on the market. I’ve heard rumors Sage is continuing to develop this product, so hopefully the future will bring better news for this poorly created cloud based accounting tool.

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    Michelle Edwards, CPA - QuickBooks Consultant Written by Michelle Edwards, CPA
    Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

    Michelle Edwards, CPA is the owner of Trailhead Accounting Solutions CPA, LLC, an Erie, CO based CPA firm focused on providing small and mid-sized businesses with day-to-day accounting, bookkeeping, and Virtual CFO solutions. Michelle is a CFO turned consultant who loves working with small businesses and entrepreneurs. When she’s not crunching numbers, she can be found hiking, remote camping, gardening, home brewing, quilting, and hanging out with her family.


Top 8 Things You Need to Do When Starting A Business

Starting A Business

Entrepreneurship is reaching record highs these days. A combination of people wanting to create their own destiny, people desiring a flexible schedule, and the unemployed that need to start working again fuels this entrepreneurship growth. If you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, here are the top 10 things you need to do when starting a business.

  1. Create a Business Plan
    Business plans are a great way to organize your ideas and put your dreams on paper. Business plans force you to evaluate every angle of your business, helping you decide whether or not your business ideas might work. Business plans help you research your competition, price your product, create a marketing strategy, generate a budget, and think about an exit strategy. They are also required if your business is going to need outside funding. Don’t get me wrong, a business plan will not guarantee success, but it will lead you in the right direction and will alert you to potential troubles once your business is up and running.

    Tip: a good business plan grows and changes with your business. Once your business is up and running, make a habit of reviewing your business plan on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. See if you are on track to reach your initial goals and update areas where you business took a different direction.

  2. Decide on a Business Structure
    You will need to decide the type of business entity you would like to create. Your business structure choices are: Sole Proprietorship, Limited Liability Company (LLC), Partnership, Corporation, or an S Corporation. Choosing a business structure is not a task to be taken lightly. It is important that you understand the pros and cons to each structure. Some structures offer better tax benefits, while others are much more simpler to operate. Some structures are better for individuals while other structures offer better benefits for business partners. The IRS has lots of information on their website about the various business structures. Individual states also have their own requirements and conditions for business structures. I advise you to contact your CPA to assist in helping you decide on a business structure that best fits your specific and unique needs.
  3. Employer Identification Number (EIN)
    Contact the IRS to obtain your EIN (Employer Identification Number). You will need to fill out Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number, which can easily be done at IRS.gov. Even if you plan to operate as a sole proprietor, I recommend obtaining an EIN so you don’t have to use your Social Security Number on your business transactions.

    If you plan to hire employees, you will need to register with your state(s) to obtain an Employer Unemployment Insurance Tax ID and a state wage withholding ID. Check with your state’s Department of Labor and Department of Revenue for information about your state’s employer identification number requirements.

  4. Register Your Business with the State
    Corporations, s corps, limited liability companies (LLC), partnerships, sole proprietors, and non-profits need to be registered with the state(s) you plan to operate in. You can register your Trade Name and Doing Business As (DBA) with your State’s Secretary of State’s office as well.
  5. Sales and Use Tax License
    Businesses that sell products, goods, food, etc. need to apply for a sales tax license from the state(s) in which you plan to operate. Some states even tax services. You can check with the state’s Department of Revenue for specific information pertaining your individual business. Contrary to popular belief, internet businesses are required to collect and submit sales tax as well. With the state governments strapped for cash, many states are starting to enforce collection of sales tax on internet transactions. Sales tax can be a tricky subject and gets complicated quickly when nexus comes into place. I recommend you contact your CPA to help figuring out what state(s) your business is required to collect and submit sales tax.

    Use Tax – Depending on the state(s) and county(s) in which you live and/or operate a business, consumer use tax can be required to be paid by businesses and residents on purchases that were not taxed when purchased. Some examples include Internet, mail, and/or phone orders. Check with your CPA or your state to determine whether you owe use tax.

  6. Local Business License and Permits
    Many cities, towns, and counties require businesses to register and obtain general business licenses. In addition, building permits, liquor licenses, contractor licenses, professional licenses, home occupational licenses, special event permits, etc. may be required by your state, city, town, and/or county as well. Don’t forget to look into these additional licenses and permits to ensure your business is operating legally.
  7. Insurance
    Business insurance is a necessity to help protect you and your assets. In general, you will want to carry a general business liability insurance policy. If you have employees or hire subcontractors, you will also be required to carry a Workman’s Compensation Insurance policy. An insurance broker is a great resource and can help you get your business insurance set up.
  8. Set Up a Bookkeeping System
    As your business starts making and spending money, you will want to have a system in place to track your income, expenses, bills to be paid, receivables, loan payments, cash, etc. With today’s technology, there are several great and inexpensive bookkeeping software options available. Check out QuickBooks, Sage Peachtree, Outright, FreshBooks, and Wave Accounting.

Keep in mind this list of the top 8 things you need to do when starting a business is a general list. Every business is unique and has individual needs. Please consult with professional advisors regarding your individual business. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your entrepreneurial adventure!

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Michelle Edwards, CPA - QuickBooks Consultant Written by Michelle Edwards, CPA
Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

Michelle is the owner of Trailhead Accounting Solutions CPA, LLC, an Erie, CO based CPA firm focused on providing small and mid-sized businesses with day-to-day accounting, bookkeeping, and business solutions. Michelle is a CFO turned consultant who loves working with small businesses and entrepreneurs. When she’s not crunching numbers, she can be found hiking, remote camping, gardening, quilting, and hanging out with her family.


Month End Bookkeeping Tasks

Shoebox Accounting Month End BookkeepingClosing your books every month is an important bookkeeping task that should be part of your monthly bookkeeping routine. By closing your books on a monthly basis will help you have cleaner books, be more organized, and you will have an easier time preparing your books to give to your tax preparer at the end of the year. Here is a 12 Step process to follow when you close your monthly accounting records.

  1. Accounts Receivable
      Verify all clients have been invoiced for work completed during the month.
      Double check your deposits and monies received have been posted to QuickBooks.
      Reconcile your Aging Accounts Receivables report against your Balance Sheet and against your General Ledger. Make any changes or adjustments to ensure all records match.
  2. Accounts Payable
      Make sure all bills have been paid.
      Double check all automatic bill payments and any recurring payments have been posted to QuickBooks (example – loan payments, monthly car insurance payments, etc).
      Post any outstanding bills to Accounts Payable so you can track what needs to be paid next month.
      Reconcile your outstanding vendor bills and vendor statements against your Accounts Payable Reports and your Balance Sheet. Make sure your records match those of your vendors. Make any adjustments or changes.
  3. Monthly Reconciliations
      Reconcile Bank Accounts – Reconcile all bank accounts using your monthly bank statements and monthly credit card merchant statements. Print and file the reconciliation reports and bank statements when finished.
      Reconcile Loan Balances and Lines of Credit – Reconcile your loan balances and lines of credit against your monthly statements. Print and file the reconciliation reports.
  4. Track your Fixed Assets
      Record your monthly depreciation.
  5. Prepaid Income and Expenses Adjustments
      Record your monthly journal entries to allocate your prepaid income and expenses.
  6. Write Off Bad Debt
      Write off any uncollectable invoices to bad debt. In QuickBooks, this can be done using a Credit Memo.
  7. Verify all Checks and Invoice Numbers are Accounted For
    Checks and Invoices are generated in numerical order. If any check numbers or invoice numbers are missing, figure out why and record the missing transactions. If they were voided or deleted, make sure you keep a record as to why they were voided and/or deleted.
  8. Review Financial Statements
    Look for any unusual balances, missing items, or mistakes. If anything looks or feels “off” look into it and figure out why the balance seems odd to you. Make any corrections or necessary adjustments.
  9. Update Budget
    Update your budget and review your budget vs. actual numbers. Determine why some budget amounts are off for the month. Feel free to adjust your budget as needed.
  10. Print and File Financial Statements and Financial Reports
  11. Close Books
    If you’re using QuickBooks, use the “Closing Date” feature. This great feature allows you to lock previous months and protect with a password. This keeps yourself and your bookkeepers from accidentally changing previous months. The “Closing Date” feature can be found under the company drop down menu. If you find any errors later on, those errors need to be corrected in the current period.
  12. Back Up
    Back up your QuickBooks, Peachtree, or other accounting software.

There you have it – 12 steps to follow to close your books at the end of each month. Adding these tasks to your monthly bookkeeping routine will help you have cleaner books, be more organized, and you’ll have an easier time preparing your books to give to your tax preparer at the end of the year.

____________________________________________________________

Michelle Edwards, CPA - QuickBooks Consultant Written by Michelle Edwards, CPA
Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

Michelle is the owner of Trailhead Accounting Solutions CPA, LLC, an Erie, CO based CPA firm focused on providing small and mid-sized businesses with day-to-day accounting, bookkeeping, and business solutions. Michelle is a CFO turned consultant who loves working with small businesses and entrepreneurs. When she’s not crunching numbers, she can be found hiking, remote camping, gardening, quilting, and hanging out with her family.


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