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Filtering by Tag: entrepreneur

Intro to Estimated Taxes: Do I owe these and when are they due?

Jessica Mishra

Many entrepreneurs don't know about estimated taxes because as an employee you typically aren't responsible for submitting periodic tax payments to the IRS. Your company does that for you by withholding on your behalf. 

As a self-employed person, you could be responsible for submitting period estimated tax payments. These are payments you submit quarterly. Basically instead of paying all of your taxes at year-end, you break them up into 4 payments. It is important to know the rules here because if you do not submit on time and you were required to do so, you could owe late penalties. 

How do I know if I owe?

Always remember to check in with your accountant or CPA on the tax rules as they specifically apply to your business, but I want to give you a general rule for estimated taxes.

You will typically owe estimated tax payments if you expect to owe at least $1,000 in tax (this is the amount of tax you owe not your profit or revenue) for a certain tax year. States have their own requirements so remember to ask your accountant or look this up for your specific state. This is the rule for individuals. Corporations have a different requirement. 

When do I pay?

The deadlines change slightly each year. To see the deadlines each year just google "1040-ES" (this is the tax form for estimated tax payments) and click on the form from the IRS website. The deadlines are listed in the instructions there. For 2017 see the deadlines below:

1st Payment.............April 18, 2017 

2nd Payment...........June 15, 2017

3rd Payment............Sept. 15, 2017

4th Payment............Jan. 16, 2018

How to pay?

There are several ways to submit payment. I personally prefer the electronic submittal. It is very easy! To see the options go to the How to Pay Estimated Tax section here

Please reach out if you have any questions!

Increase your productivity and focus

Jessica Mishra

As an entrepreneur, productivity can be a challenge. We have flexible work schedules, we work from home or coffee shops, and we have control over some or all deadlines. I personally love the flexibility of being able to do what I want, when I want. With ultimate flexibility, though, can come distractions and inefficiencies. Throughout the years of being an entrepreneur, I have learned some tips that help me to stay focused and be as productive as possible.

Set a Weekly Work Outline

A to-do list for the week is a good place to start, but I recommend taking this a step further. Have a general outline of what tasks you will work on each day. Assign approximate amounts of time for each task. Be sure to leave time in the day for checking emails and responding to requests/firedrills so you don’t feel stressed when they pop up (because of course they will). Also, know that you will probably flex items on your outline throughout the week, but at least you are starting with a framework.

I find that I feel happy when I am able to hit all the items on my task list for the day. It drives me to be productive and if I get everything done for the day I will either reward myself by stopping early or get a jump on the next day’s tasks (which makes me feel ahead of the game).

Notice Your Productivity Rhythms

Start to notice when you are most productive during the day and when you are least productive. When I am feeling like I am in a lower productivity mode or am feeling tired, I typically try to do the tasks that take the least amount of energy. For example, I might do repetitive, data entry type tasks at that time because I can churn those out with minimal effort.

When I notice I am feeling more focused and productive, I take on tasks that are more challenging and use more brain power, like research or learning a new accounting concept. It can also be helpful to lump tasks of a similar type together. You can fall into a groove when you work on tasks of the same type instead of switching around throughout the day.

Limit Email Checking and Social Media

We are so connected these days. There are many ways we communicate with each other. Email, Facebook, Slack or other chat service, phone, text, and the list goes on. You may not realize it but every time you interrupt your focused work to say check email or take a peek at Facebook, you are affecting your productivity. Your brain switches to focusing on something else, and then you have to get refocused when you switch back to your work task. I find it helpful to limit the number of times I check email or social media during the day.

If this feels too structured, you can simply set a goal to not check email until you finish a designated task. For example, if I am working on writing a blog post, I tell myself I cannot check any email or social media until I have a first draft done. That way my head stays in the game and I don’t get distracted.

Other suggestions:

· Turn your phone to silent and flip the screen to face down so you are not constantly distracted by incoming calls or texts.

· Turn off sounds and limit alerts or other notifications on your computer. Little windows or “dings” constantly going off are distracting.

· Let your clients or employees know when you will be checking email. I have seen people put this in their email signature. They craft a polite message just informing those that email when they can expect a response.

Reward Yourself

The human brain loves reward! All work and no play makes you a dull boy/girl. You can set mini-deadlines for yourself during the day, and then reward yourself when you meet that deadline. You could call your best friend once you finish up one of your deadlines, go for your favorite workout, or spend time with your sweet kitty or pup. Take a coffee or tea break or grab a healthy snack. I say healthy snack because sugar is the enemy of productivity, but moderation in all things of course. My latest favorite is a chocolate banana peanut butter smoothie break. I also love breaking for a noon-time yoga class. My productivity is usually increased after class as an added bonus.

Set Boundaries

Have structured hours in which you work. This is different for each of us, but I find that the brain stays more focused when it knows what the end time is. This can be flexible. Say you typically keep office hours from 9-5 and then one day you work until 6 or 7. That is totally fine, I just think keeping some kind of boundaries can help you be more productive during the times that you have set to work.

It is also important for the brain to have rest and relaxation time. If you are an athlete, you know you need proper recovery time after a workout. This is the same for the brain. If you have the appropriate amount of rest, then your brain will be ready to work once you go back to it.

I know this one is a struggle for many people and may not even be possible with your particular type of work, but as much as possible try not to check emails into the evening hours. Give your brain a chance to disconnect and I promise you will see the rewards. Your clients will also learn that you check emails when you are in the office and won’t expect a late night response.

As an added bonus tip, did you know that starring at a screen an hour or two before bed can impact your sleep? The blue light released from a screen can affect your melatonin production. Less quality sleep leads to less productivity. If possible, try to not look at your phone too much an hour before bed.

I hope these tips were helpful. Please share your favorite tips for being productive!

Why hiring a bookkeeper can actually save you money

Jessica Mishra

I want to share with you some real world experiences I have had with clients, in which, if they had hired a bookkeeping firm they might have avoided costly mistakes. I don’t mean to say this was their fault. They are entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs do their best to cut costs as much as they can. However, there is a point where it is more helpful than not to have some key experts on your team.

I will be the first to tell you that I don’t like how many accounting software companies out there try to empower business owners to hit the ground running and use their software with minimal training. To me this is like if you decided to build a house and just sort of threw together some blueprints without working with an architect. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are required to meet certain accounting education requirements, obtain work experience hours under an experienced CPA, must pass a grueling 4-part exam, and maintain continuing education annually. I don’t say this to make us sound overly important, I just want to make the point that accounting is not easy and it takes time to learn all the ins and outs of maintaining the finances for a business.

I am going to tell you why an experienced bookkeeping firm (led by a CPA) is a must for business owners at a certain point in their business development. Let’s talk about the areas where costs can pop up that can easily be avoided.

Tax penalties due to missed deadlines

These come in all sorts of types and sizes. I have had clients who incur penalties related to late payroll tax filings, late sales tax filings, or late estimated tax payment filings. Let’s face it taxes are complicated. If you are a business owner, you are focused on running your business and it is easy for deadlines to slip your mind.

Tax penalties due to changes in tax law

Tax law in constantly in flux. Sales and payroll taxes are one of the more complex areas when it comes to tax filings and payments. Letting an expert handle these payments frees you up to handle the other important functions of your business. You might spend countless hours researching changes in tax law or making sure you are up-to-date. Letting an expert like an accountant handle this will save you so much time and ensure it is done properly.

Accounting mistakes resulting in underpaid income taxes

If accounting it not done correctly it can significantly impact the tax liability owed for a company. In other words, I have seen several clients do something wrong in their record keeping and later find out that they owe thousands of dollars in taxes that they previously did not think they owed (and that also comes with tax penalities).

To give a real world example this certain type of error happened to 3 of my clients. Without getting into too many details, this error involved liability accounts. My clients booked what they thought were expenses to an expense account instead of back to the appropriate liability account. This basically serves to overstate expenses and as a result understate income in a previous tax year. That means a larger tax liability is owed than what was paid.

My heart drops when I have to tell clients about this. It is very frustrating and again no fault of the business owner. They were doing the best they could and did not study accounting in school. So, back to the point. Hire an expert to help you with this stuff. It may seem like a cost you can’t afford now, but the cost of high tax penalties or major mistakes in your tax filings is way worse.

Start the conversation and at least talk with a bookkeeping firm. They can tell you if it is the right time to start with their services. Don’t forget to ask if the firm is led by a Certified Public Accountant. If you are very small and just starting out, you may not face some of these more complex issues, but in time I recommend building your team of experts. It is an insurance policy you will not regret!




Quickie QuickBooks Tutorial #1: Run a Profit & Loss Report

Jessica Mishra

Welcome to my new series: Quickie QuickBooks Online Tutorials, woot! Little snippets highlighting some of the cool features in QuickBooks Online (no that is not an oxymoron, they really are cool). These tutorials will not be complicated, but will show you how to use the system to best benefit your business. Today we start with Reporting. I will show you how to run a simple report that will give you oodles of info about your business. From there you can understand trends, make decisions backed up by actual numbers, and monitor the growth of your business. 

Tell me the report already!

This report is called the Profit and Loss Statement. Almost anyone (banks, accountants, etc) that wants to see financial info from your business will ask for this statement. This report shows you one of the most important things from your business: your profit! It is a rather simple report, actually. First it lists your income, next your expenses, and finally your profit (income minus expenses). 

You will see the income and expenses listed by type and you can even customize the report to show each type of income or expense as a percentage of the total (this can help to highlight the services or products that produce the most income or the categories of expenses where maybe you can cut back). 

How do I run it?

Two ways:

1. Go to Reports on the left side bar. Under Recommended Reports you should see Profit and Loss. Click there and it will pull up an initial report. Before getting all excited or anxious about the results, make sure you are looking at the right time period. At the top you will see Transaction Date. You can chose a date from the drop down menu here or enter in a period/range manually. I most frequently use either Year-to-Date (shows you everything that has happened so far this year) or I run a report just for the month. You may also want to look at last month or last year. Once you select the date, don't forget to hit Run Report. This will reload your new report. 

This will create a pretty basic report showing the totals in each category. If you want to sort your info in different ways, hit the Customize button at the top left of the screen. We will keep it simple for the sake of this first post, but here are a couple things you may want to do to slice and dice the numbers on your report (I mean hey let's get a little cray). Under Rows/Columns I like to select Months. This allows you to see your income, expenses, and profit by month.

A little further down there is the option to "Add Subcolumns for Comparison". I like the % of Income and % of Expenses options. These will show you each type of income and expenses as a percentage of the total. For example, maybe you offer 4 types of products/services. You might see that your eBook sales were 65% of your total income. That means you are doing great with eBook sales and could maybe put even more effort there (this is a hot seller). Or, perhaps you see that your one-one-one consulting income is only 10%. You could make the decision to either spend more time marketing this, or drop it off to focus on more profitable products. See how this works? Don't forget to hit Run Report at the bottom of the Customize screen so it saves the changes. 

2. The second way to get to your Profit and Loss report is through the home page. Under the Profit and Loss section on the Home Page, you can click directly on the Net Income number. Voila, it runs your report. You can change dates and customize from there. 

Final Notes

I tell my clients to run this report at regular intervals to keep in touch with the health of their business. You could do this at month-end or quarter-end. Just make it a regular thing so you don't forget (calendar it for goodness sake). 

You can export any report to Excel or to email if you want to share with others (lenders, partners, your Mom - she is so proud). 

You can save your customizations if you think you will want to use them again. Just click on Save Customizations in the top menu and you can then save the report to a group. 

Key Takeaways from this blog post:

  • Periodically run a Profit and Loss report, it will help you stay in touch with the health of your business.
  • Visit the Reports section of QuickBooks to run this report, be sure to set the appropriate time period at the top, and feel free to customize the report to your liking. 
  • Import to excel or email reports to share with others. This can be the start of a very fruitful conversation. 

Was this post helpful? Let me know your thoughts or post your QuickBooks Online questions. I would love to hear from you!

***Disclaimer: This post was written on May 12, 2015. Intuit makes periodic updates to the QuickBooks Online software. Be sure to check with your financial advisor or tax professionals if it appears that any changes have been made or to discuss the specific circumstances of your unique business.***

QuickBooks Online: A breath of fresh air for your biz

Jessica Mishra

Does any of this sound familiar? You are a small business owner. You are currently using spreadsheets to track your income and expenses. Or, maybe you are simply scrolling through bank statements at year-end and trying to pull out any income and expenses that might be related to your business. You feel overwhelmed by all things finance, and you maybe even put off the organization of your finances to focus on, well anything else. Setting up a new record keeping system and/or learning a new software seems daunting. We've all been there, but it's time to take control. No more procrastination, just time to make a choice and act on it. 

This post is designed to tell you about some of the benefits of signing up for QuickBooks Online. I write this post from first-hand experience. Yes, I am a Pro-Advisor for Intuit QuickBooks, but this post comes from direct interactions with the software. I use it to manage my own business, and the truth is, I love it. Clients tell me the same thing! I hope to provide some clarity regarding the potential switch!

Access it from anywhere

Yep, that's right. You could be on a beach in Hawaii working on your QuickBooks (although I hope if you are on a beach you are not working on QB). This software sets you up for financial freedom. You can manage your QuickBooks account from your laptop at any time from any place. There is also a great QuickBooks app that can make your life easier on-the-go. In addition, there are several other apps that interface with QuickBooks that can help you with expense tracking, creating a mileage log (how many of you are currently tracking your business mileage accurately?), and can take pictures of receipts and store them for you. QuickBooks Online is the wave of the future. Further, if you have an admin or other employee that you would like to have access to your account, no problem at all. They can access from anywhere too!

Easy access for your accountant

Sharing info with your tax accountant or financial advisor used to be clunky. You might be sending a file back and forth or your accountant had to come to you at your place of work. Now, by simply entering your accountant's email in the right place, you give them access to your QuickBooks - again from any place or at any time. If you eventually want to hire a bookeeper, they can work remotely as well. No more scheduling issues or coordinating who will work in the file when. Ahhhh, simplicity. 


QuickBooks Online stores your data using the type of encryption that most banks use. Many people worry about storing data on the Cloud, but you can rest easy. Before you may have stored data on your laptop hardrive which can either be hacked or physically stolen. The cloud can offer a security that you may not have had before. You can also exchange financial documents with your bookkeeper or tax accountant through QuickBooks Online. No need to send these files through email anymore (which as you know can be quite risky these days). 

Invoicing like a dream

This section is for any of you that invoice your clients or customers. Speaking for myself, this process for me used to be very time consuming. I would manually create an invoice, had no good numbering system, had to enter each piece of information each time I created an invoice, and had no good way of tracking customer data or outstanding invoices.

With QBO, you can auto-fill all of your customer's data just by chosing their name from a menu. You can also auto-populate your products and services so you don't have to enter the description of the product/service, rate, and even tax info each time. You can even set the account that will record the income for each product/service automatically, and you can automate invoices if you have a need for regularly occuring invoices. I can now create an invoice for a client in about 2 minutes and send it directly to their email. I can also see how many invoices are outstanding at any given time (so I know to send a friendly reminder if it has been a while). So easy it almost seems too good to be true. 

A LOT less data entry (this is a big one)

Do you like free time? Well QBO is about to give you more of it. Features like QBO's bank feed, automation of invoicing/bill pay, and QuickBooks payments can all be huge time savers. Let's take the bank feed for example. QBO allows you to link any of your banks, credit cards, even Paypal accounts. All the data feeds seamlessly into QBO and all you have to do is review, code, and approve each transaction. No more manual entry of each check or expense that you receive or incur. QBO also allows you to create rules so that it will remember repeat transactions. I am telling you, this is a HUGE time saver. 

More insight into your business

As soon as you hit the homepage of QBO, you are being told about outstanding invoices, the types of expenses you have incurred recently, what your profit is looking like for the month, and data is displayed regarding the reconciliation of your bank accounts. Further, there are a series of helpful reports that are very easy to run if you are looking to understand your business profit from month-to-month or want to investigate a missing payment, for example. Having more clarity as to the working of your business allows you to make informed decisions regarding future growth. 

Support - you are not alone in this

QuickBooks online even offers a support hotline. Have a question on how to add another column on your invoice? Call them. Want to know how to run a customized report? Call them. Want to know why you are seeing a certain error message? You guessed it, call them! If you are feel hesitant about learning a new software, don't worry because they will support you through the transition. I myself have them on speed dial. 

I hope this post takes away some of your hesitation. If you want a guide through the financial frontier, I offer QuickBooks training sessions (which can easily be done remotely). Shoot me a note if you are interested. Further if you have QBO set up and want someone to manage it for you, I also offer bookkeeping services. As I always say, don't hesitate, automate!