3 Energy Draining Tasks to Systemize If You Want More Time to Wow Your Customers

Running a small business can be brain draining when you have a larger retail store to contend with in your community. Needless to say, cutting down on repetitive tasks that cause you a lot of stress while you focus your time and energy on satisfying existing and new customers isn’t always easy. In this post, Owen McGab Enaohwo from SweetProcess shares with us his three top methods for systemizing your small business or Mom & Pop shop.

This post is brought to you by SweetProcess. SweetProcess allows you to quickly and easily systemize procedures for repetitive tasks in your business so that your employees know what to do and so you can focus on growing your company!

Running a small business can be brain draining when you have a larger retail store to contend with in your community. Needless to say, cutting down on repetitive tasks that cause you a lot of stress while you focus your time and energy on satisfying existing and new customers isn’t always easy.

We’ve put together a list of three time wasting tasks that can and should be systemized.  

1. Reduce Time Spent On Scanning By Digitalizing Important Documents  

With a filled-to-the-brim filling cabinet and an already paper-flooded work table, scanning them yourself just doesn’t work! Your best bet would be to get the work done by others.

Shoeboxed prepaid envelopes help you get this work done. Each month, you can simply fill the envelopes with bills, receipts and other documents and mail it to them. Once your documents are safely received, the Shoeboxed team will scan, digitalize and turn them into useful data for you. This system also works for when you have multi-page documents.

The best part is that you don’t need to waste any more time in front of a scanner. All of your documents are digitalized into an accessible archive. To make life easier for you, there’s also the option of completely shredding and recycling your paper through your Shoeboxed account. That’s a complete paperless lifestyle!

2. Eliminate Headaches from Calculations by Automating Your Expense Reporting With Bench

Trying to calculate your expenses will leave you with little to no willpower left for innovations.

Shoeboxed works with Bench to make your accounting scary easy. With Bench, Shoeboxed is connected with your bank to reconcile expenses and prepare tax-friendly financial statements.

You don’t need to make one single calculation, as the collaboration of these two apps does everything for you. You never have to categorize receipts or reconcile any expenses. There is absolutely no guesswork, and you don’t have to go through the stress of cross-checking each report because you’ll be able to see an image of the relevant document alongside each transaction. That’s enough proof, don’t you think?

3. Satisfy More Customers by Building a Procedure Checklist for Fulfilling Orders with SweetProcess

SweetProcess helps you systemize your business so you stop doing it all by yourself. Acknowledging orders is a repetitive task and with SweetProcess, you can easily document how those repetitive tasks get done. All you have to do is to create a procedure, share it with a teammate, and keep track as assigned tasks get done correctly.

SweetProcess helps you guarantee quality, even before the task is complete. The procedures are easy to follow, so errors in quality are reduced. This way, you can add more value to your business using well-documented Standard Operating Procedures and then ultimately free up your time.

Take action: If you are tired of doing all the tasks required for your mom and pop shop to function all by yourself, then use SweetProcess to document procedures and create checklists for all those repetitive tasks so that your employees would exactly how to fulfill order correctly.

Please share any processes that you systemize with us in the comments section below!

5 Kinds of Receipts Small Businesses Should Take Extra Care to Keep

If you’re a small business owner, you already know that you should hold on to all of your receipts. But which receipts do the IRS scrutinize the most? Our friends over at Bench (who happen to be accountants) have the answers you need to know.

This guest post is brought to you by Bench, the online accountants that use your Shoeboxed receipts to build you tax-ready financial statements.

George Costanza dreamed of a world where all of his receipts could be carried in his pocket. This way, if ever questioned, he would have immediate, unequivocal proof of a purchase.

However impractical the Costanza wallet, business owners can learn something from George. Having detailed receipts for expenses is one of your best defenses in an audit. Receipts also act as a log, allowing you to jot down additional information about the expense if necessary. This provides critical information when collaborating with your tax accountant, bookkeeper, and auditor if the IRS decides to poke around. Of course, not all expenses are created equal, so we’ve compiled a list of five, highly scrutinized expenses for which you’ll want to keep receipts.

1. Meal & Entertainment Receipts

Winning clients and building relationships are two of the many reasons we like to break bread with business contacts. Unfortunately, the line between “contacts” and friends is often blurred making this an expense the IRS likes to scrutinize most. For that reason, it’s best practice to keep receipts handy and properly documented in case of an audit. At Bench, we recommend this even for receipts under $75 (see IRS publication 463 for more information). In practice, the more proof provided the happier an auditor is. Another thing to note is it is required to document who attended the meal and the purpose. This can be written in shorthand, such as including the initials of everyone who attended, followed by a quick description of meeting purpose.

2. Receipts from Out of Town Business Travels

Out of town travel for business generates a ton of receipts from airline tickets, taxis, meals, laundry, lodging and more. Of course, travel can also be for “pleasure”, making this another IRS favorite. Receipts verify what was purchased and also act as a travel log of where time on the business trip was spent. Some important factors that determine eligibility include: how much of the trip was personal in nature, if the trip was away from your tax home and if the amounts are justifiable.

3. Vehicle Related Receipts

“Mixed use” assets, like a vehicle used for both personal and business purposes, require extra care to distinguish when they are being used for business and when they are not. Since only the portion of use that is for business should be counted in the company’s books, keeping clear and detailed records of when, where and why a vehicle is used for business purposes helps to establish what portion of use is business related. That portion of use that is business related (e.g. 20% of use is for business) can then be applied against any vehicle related expenses (maintenance, parts etc).  As such, always have a detailed receipt (as opposed to a credit card statement) that lists what item or service incurred the vehicle related expense.  Remember, if an auditor can’t easily establish that a payment to Costco was for car tires and not for Tide, chances are that vehicle-related expense won’t be considered for business purposes.

4. Receipts for Gifts

Gifts are a thoughtful way to build rapport, however, there are several nuances to be aware of. For example, whether concert or sporting event tickets are considered ‘gifts’ or ‘entertainment’ depends on whether or not the gift giver goes with their client or business prospect. Documenting this kind of information on the gift receipt is key to allowing your accountant to treat the expense correctly for tax purposes.  For more detailed information on gift expense limits and interpretation, check out this publication.

5. Home Office Receipts

Like vehicles, a home office is considered “mixed-use” and the expenses associated with claiming a home office are therefore closely scrutinized. The key to properly accounting for home office expenses is to establish what portion of the home and the home’s expenses the office represents. If the home office makes up 20% of the home’s space, for example, then this proportion of expenses is deemed common to both the home and home office such as rent, electricity, internet to name a few. Keeping the bills and proof of payment for the home expenses with the business’ files is important in case these home office related expenses are challenged. Be sure to read the  IRS publication on home office expenses for more information on what shared use items do or don’t qualify.

Thankfully, in today’s world, Costanza’s dream has come true. With services like Shoeboxed, it is not only easy to store and track business receipts, but also possible to carry them all in your pocket.

Saving receipts, however, is only half the battle.  For accounting purposes, they also need to be reconciled against you bank and credit card statements to ensure paper trail follows the money. Further, keeping them professionally categorized to accounting standard ledgers is also expected. Bookkeeping services like Bench take care of this for you. Finally, when it comes to claiming expenses it’s always best practice to work with a tax accountant, to ensure everything is deductible in the eyes of the IRS.

Regardless of what system you decide to use, getting into the good habit of hanging on to even the small receipts will help ensure you’re giving your business’s books a bit of financial serenity.

Ian is CEO at Bench.co, an online accounting firm that provides monthly, tax-ready financial statements from $100/month. When you work with Bench, your Bench accountant collects your Shoeboxed receipts and bank statements to create your financial statements and remove the pain of bookkeeping from your business life. Shoeboxed customers get a $50 discount on their first month of service.

Image courtesy of: www.theatlanticwire.com

Paperless Small Business Accounting with Shoeboxed & Bench

In this User Success Story, you’ll meet Ryan and Carlos, two guys who run their own web development and business consulting company. Read on to find out how they use Shoeboxed and Bench together for a completely paperless small business accounting solution!

With Shoeboxed, there has never been one “best” way to use our service to stay organized. And after processing over a billion dollars of expense data since 2007, we say that from years of firsthand experience!

Shoeboxed takes enormous pride in serving clients from around the country and across the globe, all of whom use our service in a myriad of ways to fulfill a whole host of organizational needs in both their personal and professional lives.

It’s a super simple and super streamlined way to manage our finances. The Shoeboxed + Bench collaboration is a beautiful example of our own software and workflow philosophy: separate simple, yet powerful tools working together to create an exponentially more powerful solution!

-Ryan & Carlos of ryanandcarlos.com

CarlosIntroducing: Ryan and Carlos

Profession: Business Consultants & Web Developers

Location: New York City

ryanWebsite: ryanandcarlos.com

Shoeboxed: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Ryan and Carlos! Let’s start with you telling us a little about yourselves and your business. How did you get started?

Ryan & Carlos: We were both computer science graduates and working as software engineers when we decided to join forces and utilize our skills to help business owners and entrepreneurs use software to improve their businesses. We have known each other for years, and living amidst NYC’s thriving business and technology community, we knew that there were plenty of people who could make use of our shared expertise. So, at the end of 2010 we started our own company and have been helping others build theirs ever since!

SBX: That’s awesome! Congratulations on taking the plunge and starting your own business. So far, what is your favorite part of your job?

R&C: By far, the best part of the job is the variety of projects and the diversity of people that we get to work with. Every person and every business utilizes technology in a different way, and figuring out how best to help him/her keeps things exciting. Some days we are giving advice to an early-stage startup, other days we are designing and building a software solution for an investment firm. Making sure that we are best serving the needs of our clients can be tricky, but it’s definitely rewarding when we succeed in the end!

SBX: Being customer-centric certainly makes for a successful business, and so does having a solid small business accounting solution in place. Can you tell us a bit about how you use Shoeboxed and Bench to manage your business?

R&C: Shoeboxed and Bench are great tools on their own, but even better in tandem. We are able to scan my receipts, deposit slips, and bank statements directly into Shoeboxed, and our “bookkeeper-in-the-cloud” Luke over at Bench receives them right away after they’ve been processed. He uses those documents to update our financial records, and we are able to see an image of the relevant document alongside each transaction he enters.

It’s a super simple and super streamlined way to manage our finances. The Shoeboxed + Bench collaboration is a beautiful example of our own software and workflow philosophy: separate simple, yet powerful tools working together to create an exponentially more powerful solution!

SBX: That’s quite a rave review, guys — thanks! We’re honored to be a part of your paperless accounting workflow. So, how did you handle your bookkeeping before you started using Shoeboxed and Bench?

R&C: Being a company that builds technology for a living, we were naturally inclined to find a digital way to store our paper receipts and documents. We did not have to look any further than Shoeboxed, as it fit what we were looking for 100%. Despite having our receipt tracking in order, we struggled early on finding an adequate bookkeeping process. In the beginning, we did all the bookkeeping ourselves. This took us hours per week inputting transactions, categorizing them, making sure we didn’t miss anything.

Bench was a perfect fit because it allowed us to delegate this work to a more qualified person and freed us both up to focus on the business itself. Shoeboxed + Bench do for us what all great software solutions should do for any business: help us save time and money!

SBX: We’re so glad to hear that! That’s exactly what we aim to do: save our customers time and money so they can focus on doing what they love. Can you tell us a little bit about the features of Shoeboxed you use?

R&C: We use Shoeboxed to scan and store all of our receipts for tax purposes. At tax time, we print out expense reports and hand them over to our accountant, who is quite happy to receive a nicely formatted report instead of a folder filled with paper receipts. We’re meticulous with every aspect of our business and Shoeboxed helps us keep up that trend!

SBX: Awesome. Have you found any other benefits of using Shoeboxed and Bench together?

R&C: Absolutely! Shoeboxed + Bench has saved us hours upon hours of time each week, and this has allowed us to use that time saved on other important things for the business that help it grow.

Additionally, we’ve gained the peace-of-mind that everything is inputted and tracked correctly, and that our finances are in good shape come tax time. We can’t put a price on the fact that Shoeboxed + Bench helps us rest easy knowing that everything is in order. Every small business should absolutely have a system like this in place — we wish we had implemented it earlier!

SBX: But the important thing is that you’ve established a productive, effective workflow! Many businesses are struggling to get to that point, so congratulations. In closing, do you have any helpful tips for other small business owners that are trying to get organized?

R&C: Yes! We have a couple:

  1. Don’t leave it to the last minute. Stay on top of your finances throughout the year to save yourself trouble and frustration at the end.
  2. Make use of technology! Shoeboxed+Bench is an amazing example of how technology helps businesses run more efficiently, work smarter, and ultimately be more successful. If you aren’t leveraging technology to help your business, why not!? If you don’t know how, ask someone who does. In 2013, there’s no excuse not to :)

SBX: Those are great tips. Thank you so much for talking with us today, Ryan and Carlos, and sharing your small business accounting solution! We’re honored to be a part of your business as it grows and we wish you many years of de-cluttered success!

Are you a Shoeboxed user who has a success story and would like to be featured on our blog? Then we would love to hear from you! Please reach out to Emily at emily@team.shoeboxed.com for more information.

Until then, stay tuned… and stay organized!