Friday linkage

In today’s weekly link round, it’s all about cash flow, tax audits, and learning how to think like a chef. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Entrepreneurship: Sometimes Work Is Just Work @ A Practical Wedding: Your passion drove you to start your own small business, but now that you’re here, it can be hard to see the green grass. You haven’t made the wrong choice! Sometimes, work is still just work.

10 Cash-Flow Surprises That Could Kill Your Startup @ Entrepreneur: 90% of small and startup business failures are caused by poor cash flow. Martin Zwilling at Entrepreneur offers ten great tips for small business and startup owners to “maintain a certain reverence for cash”—and make it to the next level.

How to Better Manage Your Cash Flow @ Entrepreneur: A few more words on cash flow today: “Prepare cash flow projections for next year, next quarter and, if you’re on shaky ground, next week. An accurate cash flow projection can alert you to trouble well before it strikes.”

These 6 Things Can Lead to IRS Tax Audit @ YFS Magazine: According to TaxReceipts.com, small business owners are 940% more likely to be audited than W2 wage earners! Here are six easy things you can do to keep your records keep and your audit probability low.

For A More Ordered Life, Organize Like A Chef @ NPR: Americans spend almost $10 billion per year on self-help and organization, but Dan Charnas at NPR says maybe all we need to do is look into the kitchen. In the culinary world, it’s called mise-en-place (put in place), a practice, “a way of life … it’s a way of concentrating your mind to only focus on the aspects that you need to be working on at that moment, to kind of rid yourself of distractions.”

What’s the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant, anyway?

David Letterman once said, “There’s no business like show business, but there are several businesses like accounting.” And one of those several businesses is bookkeeping. So, what’s the big difference between accounting and bookkeeping, anyway?

The good folks at Bench provide a solid starting point by breaking down the tasks of bookkeepers and accountants into the following categories:

  • Bookkeepers “record financial transactions; post debits and credits; produce invoices; maintain and balance subsidiaries, general ledgers, and historical accounts; and complete payroll.”
  • Accountants “prepare adjusting entries (recording expenses that have occurred but aren’t yet recorded in the bookkeeping process); prepare company financial statements; analyze costs of operations; complete income tax returns; aid the business owner in understanding the impact of financial decisions.

To oversimplify the difference—bookkeepers enter data, and accountants (who may also enter data) also provide analysis, tax returns, and other high-level duties. An accountant will often utilize the data provided by the bookkeeper to provide financial reporting and outlooks for a company. As Katie Bunschoten explains on the Intuit Small Business Blog, “Many bookkeepers get their start acting as a data-entry clerk or entry-level bookkeeper for a business and grow, through experience and merit, into being a go-to person for the day-to-day financial recording. […] An accountant may also focus on reporting, business analysis and processes, and possibly advice.”

While these differences may seem minor, they’re important for you to know as a small business owner. Bookkeepers and accountants function similarly, but noting the differences will allow you to ensure that you’re getting the most out of their respective knowledge and expertise. Additionally, recent advancements and efficiencies in accounting and bookkeeping software has allowed for increased crossover between the two areas, which enables accounting professionals to be responsive and adaptable to various demands and expectations.

There are many accounting professionals active in the market that might describe themselves as accountants or bookkeepers, but are otherwise uncertified. While working with a non-certified financial professional might save you a few bucks, accounting is one of the areas you don’t want to skimp—especially because small businesses are far more prone to tax audits than individuals. When you’re working with an accountant, always go with a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), who is state certified after a rigorous round of testing and years of demonstrated experience. And when you’re working with a bookkeeper, look for those with either or all of the following: QuickBooks ProAdvisor certifications, professional certification through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB), and/or certification and training through an established college or university.

While accounting isn’t always as singular or exciting as show business, no business can thrive without good accounting and balanced books.

(PS: If you like what you see here, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter for more tips and advice to help your small business grow.)

Friday linkage

Friday is here! Friday is here! Which means that it’s time for my first weekly link roundup. Click around and enjoy your weekend!

Sarah van Loon Professional Bookeeping

Welcome to my new site!

After a busy summer, I’m pleased to announce that I finally have a new website—welcome to sarahvanloon.com! For the past year, I’ve been focused on building my expertise, growing my own business, and bringing my bookkeeping and training services to my clients here in Chicago. And now I’ll be using this site—and my various social media outlets—to start sharing free advice, tips, and best practices to help your small businesses grow. This is my passion, and through my site I’m continuing my mission to partner with small business owners to create efficiencies and promote organizational growth through personalized bookkeeping and financial solutions.

Take a minute to explore my site to learn more about why I got into bookkeeping, and then head over to the Services section to see how I can help you. Then take a peak at the sidebar (to the right –>) to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, for regular updates and conversation. Through my site I’ll be sharing regular weekly content and a Friday link round up for some easy weekend reading. But nothing too obtrusive or salesy, because who wants that?

In the business and accounting world, there is a lot of assumption and condescension. If you’re a small business owner, you’re spinning a lot of plates. It’s exhausting staying on top of your business’s day-to-day stuff—and staying up to date on relevant trends—and still maintain strategic focus on your Big Picture.

The complexities and confusion of accounting processes and trends can slow you down. And because I specialize in working with small businesses, I understand this. Through my site and my services, my goal is to bring warmth and enthusiasm to these cold and calculated processes. Bookkeeping doesn’t need to be mysterious or boring. With the tips, tricks, and metrics I’ll be sharing, you can learn to streamline your processes so you have time to focus on what’s important for your business—sustainability, profit, and growth.

If you’re curious to learn more, subscribe to my free monthly newsletter where I’ll share extra content, contests, discounts, and other cool stuff. We’re in this together, so let’s go to work!