Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tax Time: Um ... help?

It's that time of year again: The time of year when those of us with small businesses struggle to collect all the data we have been ignoring and pile it into a paper bag or shoebox to take to our tax preparer. It's the time of year when we once again promise ourselves that this year we will record our sales and keep track of our expenses as we go, instead of procrastinating until tax time.

We know that our financial statements shouldn't be something we just print out for the bank or the tax return. They contain vital information that can help us make better decisions about our business, but they are only as current as our bookkeeping input. So we promise ourselves ... again ... this year.

There are many reasons we put off doing the bookkeeping paperwork for our businesses. Even if we are good at organizing our financial information, we don't want to take the time away from making sales, helping our customers, or solving more urgent business problems. Sometimes we put it off because it seems so overwhelming that we just don't know where to start.

Yet we are also reluctant to ask for help with these tasks. We might be too embarrassed to admit that we've fallen behind in such a basic but important part of running our business. We think that contracting with a professional bookkeeper will be too expensive, or too risky. We're concerned about hiring an employee to help us with the bookkeeping, or we're worried about training someone already on staff when we're not sure that we know everything a bookkeeper should do.

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