Running a business can feel like a whirlwind of responsibilities! Time is a precious resource for entrepreneurs, and taking shortcuts can be tempting. However, there’s one shortcut we really recommend against: sharing sensitive documents like bank statements, financial reports, tax forms, and more over email.
When safeguarding your valuable information (and that of your customers!), prioritizing security is essential. With cyber threats constantly evolving, email is an increasingly vulnerable method for transmitting confidential data. How should you be sharing your sensitive documents instead? By embracing secure document-sharing portals.
Document-sharing portals like SmartVault employ state-of-the-art encryption techniques to prevent bad actors from accessing your information. They can streamline your workflows, save time, and reduce errors. Most have user-friendly, intuitive interfaces, too, making it easy for you and your team to implement the new tech successfully.
Portals don’t just benefit you and your business, however! They can benefit your customer relationships, too. Adopting a portal can demonstrate a commitment to protecting your customers’ data, safeguard your reputation, and help you comply with data protection regulations.
While attaching a file to an email may feel more convenient in the moment, the tradeoff could be catastrophic. Instead, by taking an extra step to secure your documents, you’re investing in the long-term success of your business. We, as accountants, cannot overstate the importance of robust data security, and we encourage you to embrace the convenience and peace of mind that secure document-sharing portals provide!
Living the dream with the dream team! New Business Directions, LLC had an amazing opportunity to escape the cold New Hampshire winter for a few days in Puerto Rico. This was a great chance for the team to relax, refresh, and come together to create a better work experience.
The team was able to take full advantage of the beautiful Puerto Rican sunshine and catch a break from the everyday hustle and bustle of the office to get intentional with its efforts for the year ahead. While they were there, they were able to plan for the future, strengthen their team dynamic, and come up with creative solutions to improve processes and take advantage of individual strengths. This was an experience that the team will never forget, and they are already looking forward to doing it all again next year!
The IRS announced earlier this month that it has increased the optional #StandardMileageRate used to calculate the deductible costs of operating a vehicle for business. The new rate, effective January 1, 2023, will be 65.5 cents per mile driven, which is an increase of 3 cents from the unusual mid-year increase we saw in 2022.
For full information, including deductible amounts for miles driven in service of charitable organizations, medical, or moving purposes for members of the armed forces, read the full article from Journal of Accountancy linked here: https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/news/2023/jan/business-standard-mileage-rate-increases-2023.html
The Critical Link Between Time Tracking and Labor Costs
Keeping track of how you and your workers spend time is one of the most important things you can do in your business. Labor costs can be a large portion of expenses, and understanding how time is spent can help you manage your business better in a multitude of ways. We touched on labor costs in our recent article, “Breaking Down Direct and Indirect Costs,” and wanted to share more on the topic. Keep reading to learn more.
Benefits of Time Tracking
There are plenty of reasons to track time, some of which we’ve listed below:
- When pricing by the hour, time tracking is mandatory; without it, you won’t be able to invoice your clients accurately.
- Documenting time spent on specific projects helps managers understand how long a task should take, when employees could benefit from training, and where processes and procedures may need improving.
- Project management systems allow users to import detailed time reports, which allows businesses to create more accurate fixed-fee pricing estimates on future jobs and customer proposals.
- For construction companies, time tracking feeds into job costing.
- For manufacturing businesses, time tracking feeds into labor reports.
- For hourly workers, time tracking is used in payroll systems so they can be paid accurately.
- Time tracking can increase accountability among team members as they become more aware of how they spend their working time.
- When time is budgeted in advance, actual hours worked can be compared to see how the budget is used and whether it was too much or too little.
- Time tracking allows managers and business owners to determine when they need to hire additional staff because the backlog has become too large.
What Is Time Tracking?
Time tracking is the recording of how you spend your time. You can use paper, a spreadsheet, or time tracking software like QuickBooks Time (formerly TSheets) to log the task you are working on and the length of time you worked on it. For example, here’s a simplistic example of a spreadsheet time log, aka timesheet, for one day:
Employees may be required to complete timesheets on a daily or weekly basis, which are then turned into their managers and payroll administrators.
Managers can take time tracking to the next level by adding hourly payroll costs as well as the employee’s hourly billing rate to gain insight into further time-tracking financial metrics.
Time Tracking Software
There are many different types of time-tracking software:
- A time clock allows employees to “punch in” when they arrive for work and “punch out” when they leave. This type of machine is mostly used for payroll in a manufacturing setting.
- Time tracking applications like QuickBooks Time allow workers with computers and smartphones to enter their time via the application. Features like biometric time clocks (i.e., requiring a thumbprint to verify the correct individual is clocking in) and geofencing (allowing employees to only clock in from certain locations) can reduce employee time theft.
- Some companies will have their time tracking function embedded into their project management, job costing, or billing system. Employees would then enter their time via those applications.
Getting Employees on Board with Time Tracking
Reporting your hours in a time-tracking system is one of the least favorite tasks of employees and requires managers to spend more time shaping their mindsets and attitudes than any software training. It’s important that employees feel that your policies don’t resemble “Big Brother” when using their time data.
For best results, let employees know how the timesheet data will be used. Allay their fears that they will not get fired or in trouble if they feel something “took too long,” which can often translate into an employee “fudging” their hours on a task where they might have made a mistake. Make sure they know they won’t be penalized in any way for what they report. In other words, remove the risk of penalty for recording their time data accurately.
Communication is key in getting employees to report their time accurately so that managers and owners can receive meaningful information. Have managers tie time tracking to an employee’s personal career goals to increase adoption and reduce resistance.
Personal Time Tracking
Time is our most precious commodity, and tracking your personal time can give you insights into how you are investing in yourself. Some really interesting questions can be considered when you have some time data for yourself.
- How much “downtime” do you need each day in order to live a productive and healthy life?
- How much time are you spending on your goals?
- Are you spending time on what you consider to be important?
Getting Started with Time Tracking
If you’re considering time tracking or would like to take your current time-tracking function to the next level, please contact us [here]. We may be able to help with integration, implementation, the accounting aspect of time-tracking, and financial metrics and reports.
Did you forget your password again? Are you using the same password for multiple log-ins? Have you been locked out of your online banking? Again?
If you answered yes to even one of these questions, keep reading–we have some insight that might help!
At New Business Directions, we take data security very seriously–a compromise of our security system is, quite simply, not an option. That’s why we use LastPass, a game-changing application we think would improve the lives of all of our customers.
LastPass is a password management solution that uses strong encryption algorithms to store and protect your sensitive information while removing the stress of logging in. No more forgotten password runarounds, hacked Facebook accounts, or “this password is too weak” messages.
When you create an account with LastPass and install the app’s browser extension, your log-in credentials will always be current on every web-based platform you utilize. LastPass will auto-fill your credentials on a website, update your records when it sees your credentials have changed, and save your log-in information when it notices you’re signing in to a location that’s not saved in your Vault.
LastPass also makes sharing sensitive data with other people (like your accountant) easier. From the LastPass Vault, you can opt to share a password to another individual with or without their ability to view the password. By using the sharing feature, whenever your passwords are updated in your Vault, they’re also automatically updated for anyone else you’ve shared access to.
The functionality of LastPass extends even further, with options to add information to your password cards like a one-time password or security questions and answers. Plus, their secure password generator can help you create complex passwords that are more secure than the variations on a common theme you might be using. If you’re interested in learning more about LastPass or signing up for your small business, reach out to us. You can also learn more by visiting this link.
Our “Comprehensive COVID-19 Sick Pay and Paid Leave” YouTube tutorial has helped thousands of people since it was released last year, teaching QuickBooks Desktop users how to set up COVID-19 Sick Pay, FMLA, and Health Premiums under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
Recently, the tutorial received some updates. Below, you’ll find helpful screen grabs and instructions with the most up-to-date information about the processes explained in this video. The times mentioned below are all hyperlinked to the video and will route you directly to the timestamp being mentioned for ease of access. For additional helpful information, make sure to view the comments section of the video.
The video can be viewed in its entirety here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8zIiPk3eNI&t=2s
1. At 6:03, we discuss creating a COVID-19 employee sick pay item. The video shows that the social security company tax is checked, which is no longer correct. To revert back to the correct tax settings, select the “default” button. The screenshot below demonstrates the correct tax settings:
2. At 7:17, we discuss creating a family sick pay item. To revert to the correct tax settings, select the “default” button. The correct settings are reflected in the screenshot below:
3. At 8:30, we discuss creating a child care pay item. To revert to the correct tax settings, select the “default” button. The correct settings are reflected in the screenshot below:
4. At 11:48, we discuss setting up a national paid leave credit. A second company contribution for the COVID-19 Medicare credit should have been created; Intuit later released information on this, and while the comments in the video contain this update, we wanted to ensure this information was easily accessible. The seven consecutive screenshots present the correct steps to take.
6. At 17:51, we discuss payroll liabilities. The video shows that the Medicare employee additional tax is checked, however, it should not be. Instead, the following items sh0uld be checked off:
- the federal withholding
- the Medicare company
- the Medicare employee withholding
- the social security company (this should be zero for COVID pay)
- social security employee withholding
Independence is a key concept in accounting, especially in the assurance or auditing area of accounting. Assurance services are services where a licensed CPA reviews an organization’s financial statements and accounting records and provides an opinion about them. This opinion takes the form of a report that can be shared with third parties such as banks and shareholders. Auditing services are one of many forms of assurance services.
Only a licensed CPA can provide assurance services; this is regulated by the states. A CPA who provides certain assurance services must be independent of the business that it is writing an opinion for. Essentially, independence means that the auditor must be able to do their work objectively and with integrity. And it goes further. The auditor must not be perceived as having any kind of bias or connection with the business it is auditing. There must be no perception of any impropriety.
To this end, the auditor must not have a relationship with the company’s executives. A CPA cannot, for example, audit her brother’s company. A CPA cannot be an investor in the company and also be the auditor because of the financial relationship. The audit opinion must not be influenced in any way by a relationship between the auditor and anyone in the company. The CPA must be able to provide an honest, professional, and unbiased opinion when auditing financial statements.
Being independent also means the CPA must have a healthy dose of skepticism. A common phrase in the accounting profession is “Trust, but verify.”
Numerous rules abound to protect auditor independence. For example, an auditor cannot be paid on a contingent or commission basis. All practicing CPAs must complete ethics courses every few years, and these almost always include independence scenarios and case studies.
If you have any questions about independence or assurance, please feel free to reach out any time.
August 18, 2020, North Conway, NH. New Business Directions, LLC is pleased to announce that Rhonda Rosand, CPA has been named a 2020 Top 100 ProAdvisor by Insightful Accountant, an independent news and information source written specifically for the small business advisor to keep up with current technology, trends in the industry and continuing their education.
This list recognizes the leading consultants who have embraced the ProAdvisor program and have leveraged it in order to better serve their clients and grow their own business. “We’d like to congratulate everyone who made this year’s list,” said Insightful Accountant Senior Technical Editor, William “Murph” Murphy.
“This is the seventh year of our ProAdvisor awards,” said Insightful Accountant Publisher and Managing Partner, Gary DeHart. “The ProAdvisors who make this list are the best in the business. Any small business would be well-served working with any one of the winners on this list.
About Insightful Accountant: Insightful Accountant is an independent news and information source written specifically for the small business advisor who needs to stay current on the latest news and offerings in accounting technology; including updates from Intuit, Xero, Sage and the hundreds of add-on products serving the small business ecosystem. With news and insight specifically written to help the advisor better serve their clients while building their firm, Insightful Accountant is unlike any other news source serving this space.
Britney Schaub, Office Assistant and Bookkeeper of New Business Directions, LLC, recently obtained her Associate’s of Science from Granite State College, majoring in Business. She is now pursuing her Bachelor’s degree.