Figure 2: Check the boxes here to activate options.
Check/PayCheck. Specify printer options and check style, change the fonts in some fields, designate a partial page printing style (using the envelope feed) and add your company’s name and address, logo and signature image.
4. Be sure that your printer has enough ink or toner before you begin a job.
5. If you print a lot of checks, consider dedicating one printer to that task. But secure your blank checks. Don’t leave them in the printer.
6. Does your printer process pages in reverse order, last page first? This can cause problems when you’re printing multiple checks. You have several options here. You can:
7. QuickBooks supports batch printing. If you’re writing multiple checks that you’ll want to print later, click the Print Later or To be printed link (depending on your version of QuickBooks). When you’re ready, you can either selectFile | Print Forms | Checks or click the Print Checks link on the home page. Both will open this window:
Figure 4: Uncheck any items you don’t want printed to remove them from the batch job.
8. Printing a batch of checks and realize that you’ve set something up wrong? Hit the Esc key to halt it.
9. Double-check to make sure that your numbers match before you launch a print job. Compare the number in theFirst Check Number field to the number of the first check queued up in the printer.
10. Ruin a check or an entire page of them? If you accounting protocol allows you to skip check numbers, just start over by changing the First Check Number so that it corresponds with the starting number on a fresh batch of check blanks. If not, you’ll have to create a check for each one that was ruined, choosing a name and account and an amount of $0.00. Then void the check(s). (Click Banking | Use Register and select the account. Highlights the transaction(s), select the edit option and void.
Check-printing can be tricky, but it must absolutely follow the rules. Let us know if you get stuck or want some guidance upfront — or if you want to switch to online banking and bill-pay.
So before you order your first widget, make sure that your purchase order form is designed to accommodate all of the information you want to record and track, with no unnecessary data fields to confuse staff.
Working With Templates
There aren’t many program preferences to check. If you can open a purchase order, you’re set. If not, go to Edit | Preferences | Items & Inventory and be sure that the box next to Inventory and purchase orders are active is checked.
What you want to find first is the Additional Customization screen for the Custom Purchase Order Template. This is easily accessed from the Create Purchase Order screen itself in QuickBooks 2013, but if you’re using an earlier edition, go to Lists | Templates | Custom Purchase Order Template. Double-click on it to open the Basic Customization page. Here, you can add a logo, change fonts and colors, etc. But go ahead and click on theAdditional Customization button at the bottom of the screen. This window opens:
(Tip: If you want to design multiple purchase order templates, click Manage Templates on the Basic Customization screen, then Copy on the Manage Templates page. Rename the form and make your modifications. This version will always be available as an option when you create purchase orders.)
Making It Yours
Each of this window’s four tabs opens a new screen that gives you customization control over a different element of the purchase order form: the top, bottom and midsection, and printing options. You simply check the boxes next to the fields that you want to add to the current form (be sure to check both columns if you want the fields to appear both onscreen and in your printed versions; sometimes, one is not an option) and uncheck any you want to delete.
If the right pane of this window, a dynamic preview changes to reflect each addition or deletion. And when you’ve finished altering the set of fields, you can see an actual print preview. Close that and keep clicking OK until you get back to the Templateswindow.
This simplicity and ease carries over into the more cosmetic elements of your purchase order. Make sure the template you want to redesign is highlighted and click Templates | Create Form Design. QuickBooks walks you through the process of adding a logo and background, colors and fonts, and a grid style, and it lets you apply this same theme automatically to all of your forms. (You can modify your design similarly on the Basic Customizationpage, minus the wizard-like approach and the background options.)
Simple But Complicated
One more comment about the QuickBooks 2013 purchase order screen. Beyond making your formatting options available in the “ribbon,” it also moves you through purchasing to the receiving process. With the appropriate purchase order open, click Create Item Receipts in the ribbon. This window opens, with the correct vendor name selected. When you click in the Item field, this small window appears:
QuickBooks’ purchasing and receiving tools makes your inventory-tracking job easier, but you still need to understand the workflow. We encourage you to let us work with you as you begin managing inventory – or to contact us if you’re tangled up in what can be a very challenging element of QuickBooks.
Hopefully, you’re already making backups of the data on your business server on a regular basis. It’s simple to set up data backups automatically and then forget about them until you need them. But have you ever looked around to see if there are any gaps in your backup strategy? Here are seven places to look to make sure all your business data is backed up safely.
Do you use an online calendar? If you use a calendar such as Google Calendar, then it’s a good idea to keep a backup in case something happens to it that’s out of your control.
In Google, go to Settings from the Settings menu, click the Calendars tab, and Export your calendar to get your backup.
It’s common for business owners to rely on their webmaster to have a backup of their website, but this is often not within the scope of the webmaster duties. Check with your webmaster to get a backup of your website files so that you are protected against hackers, hosting problems, and more.
If your blog is in the same place, make sure you have a backup of it as well. You may also want to preserve any online profiles you have in the same way.
We are so dependent on our email these days that we should consider backing this file up daily, if not hourly. The location of your email file varies, and some people have more than one. It’s worth double-checking to see if this file is included in your regular backup routine. You may also want to create a separate, more frequent backup routine for this critical file.
If you have an online email account, make sure you have a backup of all those emails in case something goes wrong.
Browser-related data, such as your bookmarks, history, toolbar, and saved passwords are all stored in files, but they can be hard to find and recover. If something happens to your browser data, it may or may not be a big deal. If it is, include these files in your regular backup so you can recover what you need more easily.
5.Online Bank and Vendor Account Information
If you get audited by the IRS, it’s almost always for a year in the distant past. Digging up invoices you might have had online access to but no longer do can be time-consuming and painful. Most banks and vendors have made it super-easy to download PDF versions of your invoices and statements, so be sure you do that before your access to them expires or becomes an extra charge.
6.Local and Cloud Drives
Every business’s technology setup is different. If you have a server, chances are you’re getting it backed up regularly. If you have employees, make sure each of their hard drives are backed up so they don’t lose any files that are not on the server.
If you have your files centralized in the cloud, make sure you have a backup of those files.
One additional place that may not be backed up is your Desktop. It depends on your operating system; sometimes desktop files are excluded if you have your backups set to copy only “My Documents” files and subfolders.
Periodically check the accuracy and effectiveness of your backups and see if you can recover a file or two. If not, you’re back to the drawing board, and it’s better to find out in a non-emergency situation that you have some work to do on your backup and recovery strategy.
Being a business owner is all about taking calculated risks. Having all your important business data backed up helps you reduce your risks and protect what’s perhaps your most important business asset.
As entrepreneurs, we work hard for our money, and the last thing we need is to have it disappear due to fraud, hackers, or identity theft. Some people have called 2013 the year of the hacker, which is worrisome. But you’re far more likely to experience risks with disgruntled or financially desperate employees and contractors. Mistakes happen, too, and when they do it can be costly to get them corrected.
Here are five ways to increase your financial controls so that you can lower your business risks when it comes to the handling of cash and cash equivalents. As you read the list, check to see where you can tighten up controls in your business.
Checking for Checks
Do you have blank checks lying around? If so, reduce the temptation and get them locked up. You can also go a step further and have your accountant run a report each month (or week) of missing check numbers. If any checks are unaccounted for, take action by processing Stop Payment orders at your bank.
Bank on It
If you are still getting your bank reconciliation on paper, where does it get mailed? The business owner should always see the bank reconciliation before anyone else does. Also, make sure the person that performs the reconciliation is not the same person that deposits the checks. Segregation of duties is essential to improve cash controls.
Today, it’s a good idea to do all your banking online, if possible, so that nothing gets mailed. In that way, you have some reduced risk over identity theft.
Some banks offer multiple-user access to your banking account, so that bookkeepers can get the information they need. Lock that user ID down as much as possible, so that the user can only get to what they need to. If they’re honest, they will appreciate the reduced level of responsibility and consider it a smart financial move.
If you have a PayPal account, keep the balance low by transferring funds frequently to your bank account. You can also restrict access to reduce your risk.
Credit Card Control
If you use credit cards in your business, you’ll want to maintain tight control over them. For each employee or contractor that needs to charge items on a credit card, here are a couple of points to consider:
One of the biggest cash outflows for small businesses is payroll. Here, segregation of duties comes into play again. The person preparing the payroll should not be the one who approves it and actually runs it.
You can do this by having different user accounts and controls within your payroll system.
Hopefully, you already have a lot of these ideas in place. If not, add the ideas you like to your to do list so that your business risks will be reduced.
Depending on your location, you’re probably starting to see early signs of spring. The nicer the weather and signs of new life seem to make people want to spruce up their surroundings.
Now would be a good time, too, to clean up your accounting environment. Some of your screens may be unnecessarily cluttered. And your QuickBooks company file probably needs attention, too.
So here are some suggestions for streamlining QuickBooks. You’ll have a tidier workspace, and you’ll save time and frustration.
Make a Clean Start
Intuit did a great job of giving QuickBooks’ home page a fresher, more “open” look in its 2013 versions. But does everything really need to be there? Could you simplify it a bit? There are several things you can do, including:
To reduce the number of feature icons even more, go to the
More Time-Saving Tweaks
These may all seem like cosmetic changes, but youwill save time and frustration over the long run.
The most critical spring cleaning task is company file analysis and maintenance. We can handle this for you. QuickBooks can slow down and start generating error messages when the data file becomes unwieldy and sloppy. Preventing file corruption before it crashes your system is a lot faster and less expensive than a reconstruction project. So if you have any questions about this, give us a call today.
Is email taking up too much time in your workday? If you’re looking to spend less time on email, here are five quick items to test your existing knowledge and fine-tune your organizational skills. We’ll talk specifically about Outlook®, but if you use another package, you may be able to find the same features there.
We all start with several default folders in our email software, such as our inbox, drafts, sent, and deleted email, but if that’s all you use, then this tip might save you time. Consider creating additional folders to file or organize your email.
For example, under your inbox, you could have “hot,” “warm,” and “cold” folders for tasks that need to be done right now, in a few hours, and later today. You may also want to create folders by clients, employees, business functions, products, vendors, important documents, or some combination of the above.
It’s especially useful to group certain emails together so you can work on a string all at once and not as they come in. That way, you can minimize interruptions which can improve your focus throughout the day.
In Outlook, you can find the Folders command as a menu item with many tasks to choose from.
Once you’ve gotten those folders setup, you can create rules to automatically “file” emails that come in. One great example is all those social media emails we all get. Create a folder called “Social Media,” then create several rules to file those emails directly into that folder. For example, all emails from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites you have profiles on can go straight into that folder to be read later. It keeps your inbox much cleaner and lowers that feeling of overwhelm too.
Look for the task bar item, “Rules, Create Rule” to get started.
3. Signature Files
If you haven’t already, create a signature file that looks professional and does a little bit of marketing for you as well. At a minimum, include your name, company name, phone and website address. Consider a short description line about what your company offers, especially if it’s not clear from your company name. Finally, include a very short description about the type of client you’re looking for, a complimentary offer you have, or a brief phrase to encourage referrals.
One more thing to consider: include your full signature on both new emails and replies, just to make your phone number and contact information all that more accessible for prospects and clients.
To get started or to edit your existing signature, go to the File menu, choose Options, Mail, and then locate the Signatures button.
4. Multiple Email Addresses
A great way to cut down on overwhelm is to have at least two email addresses. The second, extra email address can be for email you don’t need to read as often as your client and employee email. Send that email to a completely separate box that you only open once or twice a week. Assign those social media emails, list emails, meeting notice emails, and other subscription emails that just don’t need immediate attention.
You can also use multiple email addresses for special tasks such as hiring. Direct applicants to send their resumes to the separate email account. When you are ready to review the resumes, they will be all in one place with no other email clutter.
A further tool to sort and organize emails is the Categorize feature in Outlook located on the tool bar. You can create categories to group emails that are all in one folder, such as your inbox. Categories might include functions such as accounting or sales, clients or type of clients, urgency, employees, or another grouping that helps you keep related or similar emails together.
Bonus Tip: That Distracting Bell
When new email comes in, does your computer interrupt you and make a sound? Worse, do you stop what you are doing and read the new email? If you do, you will get a huge productivity boost by simply turning off the automated send/receive email feature. Instead, schedule the sending and receiving of your email manually two to three times a day.
In Outlook 2010, go to File, Options, Advanced, Send/Receive, and uncheck “Schedule an automatic Send/Receive every __ minutes.” After you have changed this setting, no more email will come in until you manually click the Send/Receive toolbar button under the Send/Receive menu bar item, so you are now in total control of when you want to be interrupted by email.
You will be shocked how much more productive your day is by implementing this one bonus tip.
Try these tips to boost your productivity with email.
It’s generally a good idea to keep overhead costs low so that your business profits will be higher. This is especially true with items that are easily commoditized and fairly standardized, such as utilities and rent. But there are times when increasing expenses pays off nicely, and here are five areas to consider so you can reap the rewards.
Whether it’s for you or your staff, good training can pay back for years to come. Learning new skills, no matter what our crafts are, will keep our businesses from becoming stagnant. Implementing what we learn will help us grow.
You might get training to increase the mastery of your chosen profession. You might also want to consider general business skills, including technology, marketing, finance, and leadership. Just about everyone can benefit from learning more about project management, communications, and negotiations, to name a few more.
You might also want to consider “human performance” skills such as public speaking. Whatever you choose, training is always a great investment that pays back big dividends.
Without the right tools, the same task can take double the time. It’s a great idea to provide your employees with the most powerful computers and software on the market. The cost of labor outweighs the costs of the computers, so it makes sense to load employees up with the best tools you can. An employee with a slow computer, through no fault of their own, is not giving you their best, and that will cost money in lost productivity.
The same thing goes for owners. You can spend your time fighting with a machine or getting a ton of work done. I’m pretty sure the latter is more profitable.
The most successful companies we work with invest in accounting services in five areas: accounting technology, accurate bookkeeping, thorough reporting, tax minimization, and professional consulting. When we see business owners cutting corners in any of these areas, it usually costs them more money in the long run to clean up the problems that result.
An up-to-date accounting system minimizes maintenance and troubleshooting costs. Making sure the bookkeeping and reconciliations are done properly is essential for compliance reporting and decision-making. A robust set of reports allows a business owner to make smart decisions about running their business, and minimizing taxes helps you keep more of what you make.
Since accountants see thousands of financial reports in their careers, they have developed an eye for opportunities that a business owner may not see. Bringing an outside perspective into your business is a good investment that can help you discover great opportunities in your business.
Whatever you do in your business, you are helping others. You are sharing a skill you have that your clients either don’t have or don’t choose to do for themselves. Being a best-kept secret doesn’t help you share your gifts and talents.
Marketing can help you get the word out to people who need your services but might not know about you. Developing great marketing materials will help you communicate what you do as well as receive fair compensation for what you do. It almost always makes sense to invest in this area of your business.
Employee Perks and Benefits
Keeping employees passionate about your vision and motivated to be productive is a continuing task. One way to do that is to provide employee benefits and perks that make it attractive for employees to work for you.
There are many ways to invest in your employees. Good health insurance, personal time off, extra vacation time, education reimbursement, flex time, and working from home are just a few of the many options you can choose from to enhance employees’ working environments.
Measuring the Payoff
We can help you measure your return in any of these areas; as always, please let us know how we can help.
Adhere to Best Practices
You undoubtedly implement financial best practices in your personal life. You reconcile your accounts. You don’t give your online banking password to anyone. And you glance through your recently-posted transactions on your financial institutions’ websites.
If your company is large enough that you have multiple accounting employees, you probably can’t be as hands-on as you are at home. But you can still set up internal control procedures.
It’s always a good idea to be on the lookout for ways to increase your profits, and luckily, there are many ways to do that. One way is to focus on cost-cutting, and here are five places that are good to periodically review for cost-cutting possibilities.
Re-negotiating with the phone company every one to two years is a really good idea. Many telecommunications companies will often bargain with you or offer you a new deal just for checking in with them.
Has your business changed? Do you need all those extra features you are paying for? Could you do without those extra lines? Would another phone plan save you money on long distance or international calls?
The risk is low: one quick call will let you know if you can save money in this area. It’s worth it to give it a shot, and while you’re at it, you can call your smartphone provider too.
Travel is always a great area to look into for possible ways to save. Are all trips necessary and profitable? Are there any meetings that can be done virtually instead of face-to-face? Virtual tools such as GoToMeeting can make travel unnecessary.
What trips can be cut this year? Can the number of people sent per trip be cut? Can travel arrangements be made early to save money? Are booking dates flexible so you can compare and find the lowest rates? Is a taxi or rent car cheaper?
Dues and Subscriptions
Paying our annual dues for the club or association we’ve belonged to forever may be a habit, but is it beneficial for your business? We might enjoying seeing everyone once or twice a year at the meeting, but we may not necessarily have to have a membership to do that. Sometimes paying the guest rate is more affordable than the member rate if we are attending infrequently enough.
Review a list of organizations and publications you and your employees are part of, and choose which ones you are truly benefiting from. If being an officer in one of your organizations is not getting you any new business, then you may eliminate a time drain by bowing out and letting someone else volunteer.
As your business grows, it can be a challenge to decide who to hire next. The first place to look before you decide should be your existing employees. What tasks are they doing that you are paying them too much for? For example, do you have a manager doing clerical work? If so, you may be able to piece together an administrative job that frees your current staff from all the clerical work they are doing.
It’s worth a look to see where your current employees are being overpaid and find someone to do those parts of the job. You’ll save labor costs and come out ahead in the long run.
Fixed Assets and Equipment
Another place to save money that can be significant is purchases of large items such as furniture, automobiles, and production equipment. It’s a good idea to get three bids from reputable vendors so you have a choice. Going with the lowest bid is not always a good move; going for the highest quality is.
Look in these five places, and let us know how much you find to increase your profits. As always, if we can help, let us know.