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Current Technology Can Streamline Foreign Currency Processing

November 8, 2016 / by Lauren Wilson posted in Boston

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Lauren-Wilson.pngWhat's the key to being a successful accounting professional today? One answer, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants: "Understand emerging technologies."

As the AICPA explains, "It's critical to stay abreast of and utilize new computer applications and systems as necessary."

A great example is the software that's now available to assist companies dealing with foreign currency. In the past, processing foreign currency added time-intensive steps to the accounts payable process. Today's technology is helping to streamline things.

On the Money: Choosing the Right Application
It's important, however, to find the right application for your organization's specific needs. Every company is different, so a solution that can vastly improve efficiency for one may be of little use to another. For instance, some companies deal mainly in U.S. dollars, while others use many foreign currencies, regardless of where the company resides.

Here's a sampling of some of today's most useful technology for foreign currency processing:

  • If your dealings with international vendors are fairly limited and straightforward, Bill.com could be the solution. Bill.com allows you to make all international payments by check. Learn more.
  • Tipalti, which can be used in more than 190 countries and can make payments in 120 currencies, lets clients pay international vendors via global Automated Clearing House (ACH). Sign up for a guided product tour.
  • TransferMate takes another approach. It enables you to upload a payment file from your accounting software into TransferMate and process mass international payments. Also available: a QuickBooks Online add-on for international payments.

So if foreign currency is bogging down your business, don't despair. By doing a little research — or with input from your accounting services provider — you can probably find a digital solution that's just right for you. And that will allow you to dedicate more time to helping your business grow.

 

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Syncing Harvest with QuickBooks Online

October 11, 2016 / by Kelly Rodrigues-Umbelina posted in Boston

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Kelly-Rodrigues-Umbelina-for-web-square.jpgWorking in the bookkeeping services business, I use an array of web-based tools to help my clients. When these programs work well together, keeping organized becomes that much easier. 

While attending a webinar for bookkeeping services providers several weeks ago, the question of product integration was raised regarding two of my favorite software programs: Harvest and QuickBooks Online. 

Harvest is a time tracking and invoicing tool available for your computer and smartphone. It helps to make sure that you’re billing for all time spent working for your clients, as well as to make sure that the bill actually gets sent out. QuickBooks Online is a broader online accounting program that also has an invoicing feature.

So how can bookkeeping services professionals and business owners optimize these programs together? Here’s what you need to know:

Integrate Accounts

First things first, you need to be an admin user within both Harvest and QuickBooks Online in order to integrate the two accounts. Once logged in as an admin within Harvest, go to “Settings,” and click “Account Settings.” Scroll down to “Integrations” and select “Connect to QuickBooks.” This will send you over to your QuickBooks Online account. Once signed in as an admin in QuickBooks Online, you can click “Authorize.”

Now that you’ve integrated the two accounts, when you use Harvest to send out invoices, these will automatically copy over to your QuickBooks Online account. Recurring invoices will be automatically copied over to QuickBooks Online as well. 

Check Names for Accurate Syncing

To make sure this integration goes smoothly, check that the listed name for each customer is the same in both Harvest and QuickBooks Online. This will ensure that the invoice in Harvest will sync over to the correct customer profile in QuickBooks Online. For example, if you have a client listed as “Jennifer Smith,” in Harvest, but listed as “Jen Smith,” in QuickBooks Online, the invoice will be copied over but a new, unnecessary customer profile will be created.

Along these same lines, the “Item Type” category in Harvest will also need to match the “Product/Service” category within your QuickBooks Invoice. When copying an invoice over from Harvest to QBO, Harvest will apply your line items correctly if there is a match between these categories. If there is no match, you will need to select a Default Income Account within Harvest (go to “Settings,” select “Integrations,” and click “QuickBooks Online” to set up with account) to apply the line items to.

Another option is to create these income accounts within QuickBooks Online by selecting “Company Menu,” and clicking “Products and Services.” Here you can see all products and services and set up which Income Account each one will be connected to.

Create Invoices

Once you’ve taken care of that, you can create invoices easily within Harvest based on billable time, or a blank invoice (in the case of a flat fee). It’s not possible to record as much detail about the payment in Harvest as it is in QuickBooks Online so you may have to add detail (check # or reference #) within the QuickBooks Online invoice if this is something that the client requires.

If you want to manually copy an invoice to QuickBooks Online, in Harvest, go to “Invoices,” select “Overview,” and from there select the invoice that you want to copy over to QuickBooks Online. Click on “More Actions,” and select “Copy to QuickBooks Online.” You’ll see the words, “Copied to QuickBooks Online” next to this invoice title when the copy has been completed.

Things to Note

It’s important to remember that if you make changes to your invoice within Harvest, they will not automatically be synced to your QuickBooks Online account and will need to be copied over again. It’s also good to know that Harvest and QuickBooks Online use some different terms. For example, what is called “Client,” in Harvest is “Customer” in QuickBooks Online. Most of these differences, however, are pretty straightforward.

Both of these programs can be wonderful and helpful tools for your business. Syncing them together will help you stay on top of your time tracking and never miss an invoice again.

Note: this integration only works on American and Canadian QuickBooks accounts and does not work with the QuickBooks Self Employed edition.


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The Why, What, and How of Saving Receipts

August 5, 2016 / by Jacquelyn Wong posted in Boston

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jacquelyn-wong-for-web.jpgMany of us are aware that saving receipts is an important way to be prepared not only for the annual tax return, but also for a potential audit… but we don’t know much more than that. What makes a receipt relevant to the IRS? Does any receipt qualify? Do I need to save all my receipts or just some of them? 

When it comes to these specifics, many business owners are unsure what to do. Here are my tips for saving receipts:

  1. Why Should I Save Receipts?
    An audit can be targeted, or it can be a completely random occurrence. That means that even if you are 100% sure that every inch of your tax return is justified, honest and accurate… you might still get audited. Saving your receipts is a good practice to follow. Your accounting services team should include receipts as part of its regular financial recordkeeping operation. 

  1. What is a Receipt?
    You probably think you know what a receipt is, but a receipt won’t be useful unless it has several key pieces of information. Before you file your receipt or give it to your bookkeeper, make sure it has the following information:
    • Name of business
    • Date of transaction
    • Amount of transaction
    • Business purpose
    • If there were multiple attendees, the names of the attendees

  1. What Receipts Should I Save?
    Generally speaking, use the value of $75 to figure out if a receipt is worth saving. If a receipt is over $75, make sure you save it. If you feel the purchase was significant despite being under $75, save the receipt just in case.

    If you’re worried about being overrun with receipts, keep in mind that generally you only need to save them for three years

    In addition to receipts, other documents you should save are bills (medical bills, student loan bills, mortgage bills), receipts for charitable donations, mileage and gas logs, and tax documents. Check out the IRS website for more information about recordkeeping for small businesses and self-employed people.

  1. How Should I Save Receipts?
    The key here is order. Ask your accounting services professional to help you design a system to keep these financial records well organized and easy to search through. Receipts can be stored digitally through a number of applications. The great part about these apps is that they allow you to scan the receipt right when you get it, uploading it into the system for you. This will eliminate the storage issue of actually saving all of that paper, as well as making your receipts visually easy to scan through and search. Also, a digital copy is forever and will not fade or deteriorate like paper receipts.

For more information about electronic document sharing, please read Sandra Bowman’s blog on using Hubdoc.

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Supporting Strategies Client DPLA Featured on White House Blog

July 12, 2016 / by Debra Demeule posted in Boston

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Deb-Demeule-for-web-square.jpgThe latest initiative of the Digital Public Library of America, Inc. (DPLA), a long-time Supporting Strategies client, was recently featured on the official White House blog.

The article discusses the Open eBooks project, a partnership of DPLA, First Book and The New York Public Library offering students free access to $250 million worth of reading material. More than one million students have already received access codes providing them entry into the project.

Since my first days working with DPLA, I've known they were headed for big things. Referred to Supporting Strategies by one of our clients, DPLA brought us on board at the time of their incorporation in 2013, so I've been able to watch them progress and expand — and to grow our services with them.

DPLA is a not-for-profit entity, so much of their work is dependent on grants. Their rapid growth means they have continuously added funding sources that are managed independently of the others, each bringing their own audit requirements and accounting challenges.

Impressing the CPAs

Working with DPLA's audit teams and tax preparers from the outset has given me a window into their changing needs and allowed me to recommend effective documentation systems in conjunction with the DPLA Financial Manager. The CPAs performing those audits have been so impressed with the resulting systems and practices — e.g. having documentation electronically available so they can perform audit functions from their own offices — that they have referred clients to Supporting Strategies themselves.

DPLA has expanded from four employees to 16 in the time I've worked with them. My role includes accounts payable, accounts receivable, expense allocations by grant, and processing their growing payroll and benefits payments. The controls we've built into the process from the ground up provide extra security and confidence as the client's bookkeeping needs have grown more complicated.

DPLA is a virtual company, with employees who work and live remotely. Because they've included me in events and gatherings, I've met nearly every employee in person and truly feel like part of their team. I've been honored to have such a strong and involved partnership with a client committed to doing so much good. They have many more exciting projects ahead of them, and I'm happy to know Supporting Strategies will get to play a role.

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Three Things to Do When Starting Your Own Business

June 24, 2016 / by Danielle Huffstetter posted in Boston

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Danielle-Huffstetter-for-web-square.jpgCongratulations on deciding to start a new business! It is empowering to become your own boss and to pursue your dream of starting a business. However, there is a lot to learn about setting up a business, and there is a lot that needs to be done in the beginning. Here are three tips from a bookkeeping services professional on how to give your business a financial head start:

 

1. Establish a Business Entity

One of your first actions as an entrepreneur should be to establish a business entity–whether it is a Sole Proprietorship, an LLC (Limited Liability Company), or a Corporation. Do your homework and consider consulting a lawyer to find out which type of entity will best serve your business. A Sole Proprietorship is fairly easy to set up, but has more liability than an LLC (which offers protections for the proprietors). Or, it may be preferable to form a corporation, which will better position your company for outside investment. 

2. Open a Separate Bank Account for Your Business

Separating your personal finances from your business finances is a great way to get organized, make tax time easier, and even save money. Set up a bank account that you use exclusively for your business, and also get a credit card that you use only for business expenses. It is helpful to consult with a CPA to learn about business expenses, tax guidelines, and best practices regarding managing your business bank account.

3. Determine How You Will Organize and Track Your Business Income and Expenses

Even before you earn any money with your new business, you should establish how you will be keeping track of your business’ finances. Think not only about your finances now, but about what your finances will look like after a year in business. It will help you in the long run if you take the time to set up a system that is both easy to use and scalable. There are several software programs that help you organize your finances and make it easier for you to stay on top of tracking your income and expenses.

An option that works for many businesses is to hire a bookkeeping services professional or firm. An experienced accounting services firm will be able to advise you on software tools for bookkeeping and time tracking, and when your business grows will be able to respond to your new needs, such as HR, payroll, and healthcare administration. An accounting services firm will help your business where it is, and help get you where you're going.

For more tips on how to set up your business, please read the blogs by my colleagues Dawn Hershik, “Three ways to optimize how you run your business’ books” and Amy Lyons, “My top five favorite business bookkeeping apps.”

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How Technology is Adding More Value to Your Bookkeeping Services

December 9, 2015 / by Anna Sokolinkski posted in Boston, Bookkeeping Services

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Anna-Sokolinski-for-webIn recent years, the accounting industry has been flooded with a wave of new technology solutions that have really shaken up the way we do things. It might seem natural to wonder if these developments are slowly replacing the bookkeeper to the extent that, sometime down the line, computers will do all of the work that bookkeepers have typically done. Speaking on behalf of bookkeeping services providers everywhere, these technologies are something to celebrate rather than to worry about. These new technology solutions are enabling us to automate the experience of routing and entering accounting transactions and have also allowed us to move our clients' books and records to the cloud, which allows us to focus on helping our clients keep their businesses on track and also gives us all real-time access to the information to make decisions and keep the business' operations moving.

For instance, automated data entry software is something that does a lot of the work that bookkeepers used to do manually. When it comes to all that number crunching, we’re happy to let the computer take the wheel. These "robots" are faster and more efficient in routing and recording transactions. The expertise of your bookkeeping services provider, however, is still needed to get those numbers ready for crunching. We act as a data concierge, ensuring that the data is coming in correctly and reconciling the information for accuracy. We also set-up and manage the various data feeds that come in and out the accounting system to keep the trains operating on time and ensuring that all systems are seamlessly working together.

Another area in which your bookkeeping services benefit from a human touch is tax rules. Taxation rules are very complex and are constantly changing. In addition to this, they vary from place to place and are dependent on any number of variables and nuances. There are lots of cases that are not black and white but are rather subject to interpretation. This is when you’ll turn to your bookkeeping services provider or CPA for an informed judgment call. Understanding the nuances of taxation, we’re able to look at your information in context and apply the right exemptions to save you money. A great example of this is the handling of sales tax filings or 1099 preparation and filing. Avalara and Track1099 are excellent cloud accounting tools that in combination with bookkeeping services, helps your business stay in compliance.

If anything, the increase in technological solutions for bookkeeping services has opened up the role of the bookkeepr. When we’re less busy crunching, we’re able to be your financial analysts, strategists, consultants and cheerleaders. Partnering with technology allows us to better partner with you, which is really what it’s all about.

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Bookkeeping Services | My Top 5 Favorite Business Bookkeeping Apps

October 16, 2015 / by Amy Lyons posted in Boston, Bookkeeping Services

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As a provider of bookkeeping services at Supporting Strategies, I’ve had the opportunity to help optimize my client's bookkeeping processes using several great accounting apps.  These tools can save you and your team a lot of hours and effort, freeing up your valuable time to focus on other areas of your business. Your provider of bookkeeping services can show you around these tools and help you decide which ones are best for you.  Here are five of my favorites:

Amy_Lyons

1. Bill.com

Bill.com is a provider of digital business payments and can help simplify how your business processes ACH payments, all while automating and streamlining accounts payable and accounts receivable processes. Bill.com can be a major time saver and also allows businesses to manage accounts payable and accounts receivable from anywhere. Plus it syncs QuickBooks and QBO.

2. Tallie

Tallie is a business expense report software solution that will streamline your entire expense management process – from point of purchase to accounting and reimbursement. This software will integrate with other online bookkeeping services and bill pay services like QuickBooks, QBO, Bill.com, and Xero.

3. Transaction Pro Importer

Transaction Pro Importer can make importing your data into QuickBooks Online easy. It’s an intuitive and highly customizable tool. Whether your data is in text, Excel, Access, or an ODBC compliant database, this tool makes it quick and easy to import your transactions and lists.

4. TSHEETS

TSHEETS allows for easy web-based time tracking, web-based approval, and quick reporting. Instead of letting those billable moments slip through your fingers, you can easily and accurately track and organize your hours.

5. Track1099

Track1099 allows for the easy on-line filing of 1099 – MISC; and syncs up with QuickBooks and QBO. This is a great solution for those tired of sinking needless hours and human resources into IRS-related solutions.

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Accounting Services | Why Your Business Should Be Forecasting

October 7, 2015 / by Paul Audet posted in Boston

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Living in New England, the first thing I do each morning is check the weather forecast. A little forward thinking can go a long way and can be the difference between being caught in that summer storm with an umbrella, or without one. Forward thinking is crucial for your business as well. Preparing a budget will help you predict where your business is going, and a forecast will help you track progress and respond to changes along the way. As a provider of accounting services, I know that running a business can be just as prone to sudden changes as the weather in New England. But if you budget and forecast well, you’ll be able to prepare your business to best handle the weather any unexpected storms.

Paul_Audet

A budget/forecast will also give you both a short-term and a long-term view of your business and help answer questions about future profitability, expenses, how your cash flow will develop, and what your capital needs are. These projections are crucial to management and making day-to-day decisions. Here are some tips to use in creating your budget/forecast:

1. Use Excel

You can create your budget/forecast by using an Excel-based model. Once complete, this budget data can be uploaded onto your business’ accounting services platform (i.e. QuickBooks) and this will make it simple and efficient to check your actuals against your budget on a monthly or quarterly basis.

2. Learn from History

Use historical (prior year) financial data as a baseline to create your model. I recommend starting your model to include your actual profit and loss, balance sheet and statement of cash flow actuals from the prior year.

3. Create a Worksheet for Revenue Assumptions

If you have revenue, you will want to create a separate worksheet in your Excel workbook to project this data based on the key inputs and metrics driving revenue in your business.

4. Create a Worksheet for Expenses

You will want to do the same for your expenses. Forward thinking often involves taking a look backward. So look back at what your expenses, expected and unexpected, were in the previous year as you create your expense forecast model for the future.

5. Consider Your Team

List your headcount with salaries and an assumption for benefits. Work into this your hiring plan if you have one so that you’re projecting not just for the team you have, but those who have yet to come aboard.

6. Tune Into Your Operating Expenses

Lay out your operating expenses by month for all of your expense categories. Take into consideration things like rent, travel and entertainment, and any other consistent expenses not yet covered in your budget.

7. Connect Your Assumptions Into Your Financial Reports

One great thing about Excel is the ability to manage multiple spreadsheets in a single file, and then link them together. The detailed worksheets discussed above should then link to drive the summary numbers on your budgeted Profit & Loss worksheet, so you can see the final results of all of your revenue and expense assumptions. You can then take that budgeted Profit & Loss statement to work on projecting out your future Balance Sheet and Statement of Cash Flows.

8. Figure Out How to Use It

In terms of frequency, I recommend that you create a budget before every fiscal year. You may want to re-forecast throughout the year after establishing your annual budget. In my opinion, it’s most beneficial to update quarterly as your business will evolve as the year progresses, and the assumptions used in the budget should be reviewed to ensure they are still valid. Revenue may be greater or less than expected and maybe your hiring plan has changed. When you re-forecast on a regular basis you will get a clearer picture of the expected operating results for the year. Make sure, when re-forecasting, to include the actuals for the prior months and forecast the remaining months for the fiscal year.

As a provider of outsourced accounting services, I’ve created annual budgets and forecasts for several of my clients throughout the years. I have learned that these tools have added a lot of value, not only for the business owner/manager in terms of decision making, but also for the finance staff and accounting services providers to understand where the business is going and how it operates.

 

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Accounting Services | Is There a Future Accountant in Your Family?

September 16, 2015 / by Shelby Tutty posted in Boston, Accounting Services

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If you ask any child what they want to be when they grow up, you’ll probably hear “firefighter,” “princess,” or “Spiderman.” A little bit older, and they might tell you they want to be a rock star or a video game tester. But if you think you see a future accounting services provider at the table this Thanksgiving, here’s what they need to know going forward.

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1. Why Work In Accounting Services 

There are a few reasons to work as a provider of accounting services. The salary is good, the demand is consistent, it’s highly transferable, and there exists a wide range of options for specialization in the field. For someone who likes working with numbers, it’s a great profession to get into. An accountant may not be Spiderman, but using your expertise to help others manage their finances feels great. Plus, having this expertise means that you’ll always be a valuable asset, wherever you work.

2. Decide If You’re Interested in Becoming an Accountant or a CPA 

An accountant is anyone employed to work on someone else’s business or personal finances. A CPA (Certified Public Accountant), however, has passed a state certification exam and has necessarily completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. CPAs may have a greater range of options in employment as specialists and business consultants, but both non-certified and certified accountants will be able to find meaningful work with clients. Both accountants and CPAs are required to take an exam in order to work with tax returns.

3. How to Become an Accountant 

There are a few different types of degree programs that will prepare you for a career in accounting services.  The knowledge and expertise gained from your program is invaluable and which type of degree program you choose will offer a different perspective and set of skills. You can get an Accounting Degree, which can be pursued at the Associate, Bachelor, Masters and PhD levels. This degree will cover financial recording, non-profit management, business management, income tax and government regulations. There are also more specialized degree programs (generally at the graduate level) in accounting such as Auditing, Finance and Taxation.

4. How to Become a CPA 

To become a CPA you will need, as a minimum, a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. In addition to this, graduate level work can be valuable as well, though it isn’t required to become a CPA. Depending on which state you live in you will have a certain number of instruction hours before you even sit for your certification test. Check to find out what the specific regulations are in your state, as you may be required to complete a number of instruction hours for accounting as well as for business. After that’s done, it’s time to study for your CPA exam, which will cover auditing and attestation, financial accounting and reporting, regulation, as well as business.

5) What’s the Most Important Thing in Accounting? 

I always tell my kids that the most important thing in accounting is accuracy. Accuracy is of course crucial when you’re working with numbers, but it is not the only virtue for an accountant. The next most important thing, then, is passion. This is as true of accounting as it is of all jobs. So if you love working with numbers, are interested in how businesses work, and want a job providing a crucial and highly valued service to clients in need, accounting could be for you.

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Where Boston's Fastest Growing Firms Get Their Bookkeeping Services

August 26, 2015 / by Leslie Jorgensen posted in Boston, Bookkeeping Services

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Supporting Strategies Boston was proud to see several former and current clients highlighted by Inc. Magazine as some of “Boston’s Fastest Growing Firms.  Supporting Strategies, a provider of outsourced bookkeeping services , looks back at their time with these clients.

Carrie_Decatur

Financial Operations Associate Carrie Decatur recalls when Pixability first came to Supporting Strategies in 2009 “when they were a company of just a half-dozen employees producing and editing videos out of a tiny office.” As Pixability has evolved and grown (now providing ad-buying and video marketing services for the likes of Google, Viacome and Gillette) Supporting Strategies has continuously evolved in its approach to serving their dynamic and growing needs for bookkeeping services.

Carrie notes the centrality of the personal relationship she was able to develop with Pixability, as well as flexibility in her approach to their needs. “Pixability’s exponential growth led them to hire in-house HR staff.  We were very engaged in the transition and continue to play a key role while partnering with their staff.  The changes have actually led to more work for us, not less.”

Amy Lyons of Supporting Strategies first started working with Localytics when it was "just a few employees wearing many hats."  This software firm, enabling personalized push and in-app marketing campaigns for mobile apps, was another business singled out by Inc. Magazine for it's remarkable progress.   Localytics came to Supporting Strategies in 2010 for bookkeeping services, and Lyons notes that Localytics "experienced explosive growth and has transformed the way their customers connect with their favorite products and services."  

Diane Fugliniti, a Financial Operations Manager at Supporting Strategies, has been working with Next Step Living, a provider of residential and commercial energy saving solutions, since 2009.  "At that time they had been in business for just over a year and were looking to grow and expand."  Like the rest of the team at Supporting Strategies, Fugliniti was proud to see the Inc. Magazine ranking highlighting their growth.

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