This article is meant for the do-it-yourselfers, those of you who have decided to do your own books. Or, since DIY accounting is the default position, it also includes people who never decided to have their books done by someone else.
So, we say to you DIY-ers: It’s November now. Have you looked at your books since February? If the answer is no, then perhaps it’s time to contact us and schedule a clean-up. It’s what we do, and we can save you quite a lot of headache for a very reasonable price.
Maintaining your books regularly is important for many reasons, but we’ll go over the top three: legal compliance, saving time, and assessing your business’s health.
First and perhaps most importantly, maintaining clean books is critical for keeping up on legal compliance. Is your payroll a mess? If so, then how do you know that you filed your quarterlies correctly? You did file all of them, including the newly required Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave remittances right?
Or if you don’t do payroll, are you sure that you calculated your estimated taxes correctly? Mistakes in calculating quarterly taxes can really cost you if you forgot to carry the 2.
The point is, think about all the penalties, interest, and fees that you could end up paying when these things are not filed correctly or on time. Compare that to how much it would cost you to just sit back and let someone else do it. Even if you are competent and perfectly capable of making all of your filings, is it really worth your time?
Speaking of time, de-cluttering your books is like de-cluttering your house. If you do it at least every month, then there’s an upper limit to how messy it can get. On the other hand, if you haven’t de-cluttered since February, you could end up on that show “A&E’s Hoarders” (or if it’s your books, “M&E’s Hoarders.” Ok, I won’t quit my day job).
If you de-clutter once a year, it will take you way longer than it would have if you decluttered 12 times that year. There are many reasons for this: You won’t remember everything you did in January, you will face terrifyingly large lists of transactions that will make you want to pull a blanket over your head, and there probably will be errors from early in the year that have a cascading effect on the entire rest of the year.
We at TL;DR have a lot of experience untangling neglected books, but let us assure you that it’s much easier bit-by-bit.
Health of the Business
If you don’t know how healthy your books are, then do you really know how healthy your business is? If you have a bunch of uncategorized expenses looming over your Profit & Loss, how do you know which kinds of expenses you need to reduce? If your banks aren’t reconciled, then you may not have a good understanding of whether or not you can fund all the checks you sent out last week.
Beyond all this, when you take a bird’s-eye view of your business, poorly-kept books are going to cloud your view from the top. This can negatively affect your 3-year plans, your 5-year plans, and your ultra-long-term plans. (You do have plans that extend beyond next week, right? If not, we can help you with that too.)