Tuesday, December 31, 2013

ABC’s of Bookkeeping Web/Blog

ABC's of Bookkeeping, LLP, is a full service bookkeeping firm located in Bellingham, WA.
For more than 20 years, Jan Myers and Kris Halterman have provided bookkeeping services and in 2008  Jan and Kris formed ABC's of Bookkeeping, a business partnership.
ABC’s of Bookkeeping provides professional, high quality, bookkeeping services to individuals and small or medium size businesses, throughout Whatcom County.  ABC’s of Bookkeeping will set-up, clean-up and maintain your financial records. This results in a clear financial picture and aids in the success of your business..
Jan Myers is a 2nd generation, Whatcom County resident with 20 years of experience.  Kris Halterman is a 3rd generation, Whatcom County resident with 25 years of experience.
Kris earned her QuickBooks Pro certification in June of 2008 and continues to expand her knowledge of QuickBooks software and how it helps businesses to grow.
ABC's of Bookkeeping are excited to have this web/blog to interact directly with current and prospective clients.  Let ABC's of Bookkeeping present our package of services through our free consultation.  Contact either Jan Myers or Kris Halterman through our email addresses:
jan@abcofbookkeeping.com or kris@abcofbookkeeping.com
or by phone:
Toll Free (866) 382-4884 ext. 706 (Jan) ext. 700 (Kris) or 
Jan Myers (360) 927-3125 (cell)  Kris Halterman (360) 739-5890 (cell)
It is ABC's of Bookkeeping, LLP's goal is to provide you and your business with a clear financial picture so "you" can focus on your business product and services.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Humor: A Funny Blast to the Past: Accounting Video Series

A Funny Blast to the Past: Accounting Video Series

August 12th 2013 by Mindy King
The abacus was once the most intelligent accounting tool of its time. Then, accountancy evolved to the PC and floppy disks. Of course today, professionals can experience the latest evolution in accounting with QuickBooks® Online. Experience this evolution for yourself in this Intuit “History of Accounting” video series, a humorous blast to the past that is sure to make you smile![divider]

Monday, May 20, 2013

Surviving Healthcare Reform

Does your company have less than 50 full-time employees?

Do you have more than 50 employees, but only a small percentage of them work 30 hours or more?

If you can answer YES to both of those questions, then you are currently under the threshold of the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act, aka “Obamacare.”  If your answer is NO to both of these questions, then I would highly suggest that you not only have a qualified payroll specialist to insure that you are able to provide proper reporting to the IRS, but ask that you purchase and consume “The Obamacare Survival Guide.”


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Prepare for 2013 with an Invitation from Vanguard

Vanguard Investments is an easy, low cost, investment source for anyone who likes to have direct involvement in their investment and retirement portfolios.  Please consider checking our their webcast and get prepared for 2013 and beyond.

~ Kris Halterman

Vanguard homepage

Bill McNabb and Tim Buckley assess the markets and economy

What's ahead for 2013 and beyond
Live video webcast:  Register now Register now

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Tax Man Cometh

The Tax Man Cometh: What to Expect in an IRS Visit

November 27th 2012 by Intuit Staff

For the third year in a row during the 2012 tax return season, the IRS sent letters and scheduled visits with thousands of tax return preparers nationwide. These annual letters and visits are part of the IRS’ ongoing compliance initiative to improve the accuracy and qualify of filed tax returns and to heighten awareness of preparer responsibility. And, while the focus of the letters and visits may change, tax practitioners can anticipate another round of letters and visits during the 2013 filing season.

During both the 2011 and 2012 tax return seasons, the IRS focused on tax return preparers who prepared a large number of individual returns with Schedules A (Itemized Deductions), C (Profit or Loss from Business) or E (Supplemental Income and Loss) in the prior year. In November 2010, the IRS sent more than 10,000 letters to selected preparers and scheduled visits with about 2,500 preparers between December 2010 and the end of April 2011. In November 2011, approximately 25,000 preparers nationwide received missives from the IRS, with about 2,100 visits scheduled through April 15, 2012.

You’ve Got Mail

According to the IRS, the purpose of the preparer letters is to heighten awareness of preparer’s responsibilities, the consequences of filing incorrect returns and tax return preparer requirements. The letters include enclosures that outline common issues preparer’s should be aware of on the targeted schedules.

Preparers are not required to respond to the IRS letters—but may want to prepare for the possibility of an in-office visit.

You’ve Got Company

Based on past experience, upwards of 2,000 preparers who receive letters can expect a visit from the IRS. An IRS agent will call selected tax return preparers in advance to schedule the date and time of the visit. The agent will then send a letter confirming the visit.

Assessing Fraud; Part 1

From The Experts
Tips and Techniques to Assess Fraud, Part 1
November 6th 2012 by Dan Ramey
Would you like to know where an employee might create a scheme to defraud your organization? As much as 7 percent of top-line revenue may be at risk, so how do you fight back against these employees who want to take advantage of your organization?
As mentioned in my previous article, Detecting Fraud: The Tone at the Top, the presence of fraud is prevalent in today’s business, educational, nonprofit, and governmental organizations. A strong internal control environment is one of the main strongholds to reducing the likelihood of fraud in the organization. As these articles continue, other key proactive characteristics of an organization prepared to reduce the occurrence of internal fraud will be addressed.
One of the first steps an organization should take to evaluate its fraud risk is to perform an enterprise-wide fraud risk assessment. A fraud risk assessment allows the organization to identify potential areas where fraud may occur and who the perpetrators might be.
The fraud risk assessment team should consist of employees across many disciplines of the company. This include the following:
  • Accounting and finance individuals from all levels, not just senior management, because they are familiar with the processes of the transactions and existing controls.
  • Individuals in operational-type positions should be included due to the wealth of information they have regarding their day-to-day operations and the opportunities that might exist from external forces and management pressures for performance.
  • Legal and compliance representatives should be included due to their knowledge of the regulations surrounding your individual industry.
  • If an internal audit function exists within the organization, the audit staff is a great source of information of current control weaknesses and opportunities for fraud within the organization. The staff is trained to look for fraud and be aware of the opportunities for fraud.
  • Senior management should be included due to their responsibilities for the overall control environment and are usually keenly aware of fraud issues within the industry. They also have a fiduciary responsibility to the organization’s stakeholders.
  • Lastly, include forensic accounting experts who deal with fraud investigations on a daily basis – they have seen a wide variety of fraud schemes and broken controls which allowed the fraud to occur in the first place.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Supply and Demand of Carving Out a Nonprofit Niche

February 23rd 2011 by Gregg Bossen, CPA

When Intuit first asked me to write an article about working with the nonprofit sector, I was a bit reluctant. You see, those of us who specialize in nonprofits know something other accountants and bookkeepers do not: the nonprofit world is an untapped goldmine, full of benefits.

When looking at which business sectors an accounting firm should concentrate in, nonprofit organizations can, and should, be held up to the same economic lens as any business. In fact, charities, social service agencies, arts organizations, schools, membership associations and even churches are ultimately businesses that happen to have a motive other than making money. Just because they aren’t there to make a profit does not mean that they aren’t a  profitable niche for your firm.

I think it all boils down to supply and demand, one of the basic economic tenets of our society. Let me explain.

The Demand

With more than 1.4 million nonprofits registered with the IRS, the demand for quality, solutions-oriented accounting is huge. Most of these organizations are small, but no matter how small they are, each one has a board of directors requiring monthly financial statements.

This is certainly not true for other businesses who usually don’t show up until April 14 and would never pay for monthly compiled financial statements. Because nonprofits frequently do not have the resources to hire staff to perform these functions, that’s where we come in!

Better still, most of these organizations survive on government and foundation grants that require an annual audit. This is true no matter how small the organization is, which can prove difficult financially. Nevertheless, an audit is a must in order for any nonprofit to be viable. Those of us who went to the trouble of getting those three extra letters after our name – “CPA” – find performing these audits actually quite lucrative and rewarding.

Click here to read the full article here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How to Run a Family Business

Wether you are starting up your own small, medium or large business, it is quite common that family members are involved.  Working with family is a curse and a blessing, depending on how you approach it.  The thing I like about working with family is that there is no window dressing or political correctness when dealing with each other and if we have a passionate discussion, no matter what, we are able to move past it quickly.  The thing I despise about working in a family linked business is the proclivaty to get into heated, passionate discussions at inappropriate times, ie; customers and employees who would rather not see family dynamics in the workplace.  So we are constantly working on that issue and as time goes by, it gets easier to keep business as business and family as family.  So with all of that having been said, I thought this article from Inc.com could be a valuable assistance to the many small/medium/large family businesses out there.  Enjoy!
Regards~  Kris Halterman
(part of my business experience has been operating a family business with parents, siblings and a spouse for the past 20+ years)

Whether you're a third-generation CEO or starting a company with a sibling or spouse, running a family business presents particular challenges and rewards. Here's how to do it right.
By Christine Lagorio |  Mar 5, 2010
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You've heard the statistics: Fewer than 30 percent of family businesses survive to the second generation, and just 10 percent hold on through the third. Sound bleak? It's not. Those are far better survival odds than for small businesses not run by a team of family members.
A tight-knit managerial circle, and the flexibility of related – and deeply invested – employees, has been proven to make a business resilient. It also can confer a significant competitive advantage and impress customers, who appreciate knowing they're dealing with someone who cares deeply, and who has the same surname that's on the letterhead. But family management presents unique and intense challenges, including day-to-day emotional dynamics and big-picture issues such as succession planning.
Inc.com spoke with experts who have firsthand family business experience as well as coaches and consultants who specialize in the psychology and the logistics of running a family business. They shared their research, pointers, and life experience.
Dig Deeper: Resources for Running a Family Business
Running a Family Business: Planning is Everything
It's easy to say any start-up needs a business plan, mission statement, and revenue projections. In a family business, it's not that simple. Nor might those standard documents apply – or even be necessary at first, experts say. In their place, however, a family business must focus instead on drafting agreements, clear expectations, and assigning clean-cut roles to family members.
"What I recommend families to do is to get as many agreements done in advance as possible," says Fernando Lopez, a Toronto-based relationship systems coach who specializes in family business at Bridgespace Consulting. "What are they hoping to achieve? What do they not want it to become? They should have their high dreams and their low dreams, and from there they can see how they want to work together."
Taken together, the expectations set by individuals within a family can form a powerful vision for the future, which will guide a business forward. Ideally, formal documents will codify family members' expectations. At a bare minimum, they must be discussed at the outset in some depth, according to Cheryl Stein, president of Stein Consulting and Coaching in Chicago.
"The families that are really smart about it, that set up rules, are typically the families who do not fall apart and end up never talking to each other again," Stein says. "Setting up rules when you are getting along can save years of heartache - even if you just set up a rough framework."
And she knows from experience. Stein served as a vice president of her family’s multi-generation real estate company, working alongside her siblings, parents and grandparents to sustain their 80-year-old company. But a lack of clear expectations – and unerasable family dynamics – caused her to leave the business.
"While my father was alive, he always treated me like his little girl," Stein says. "I really couldn't work hard in that situation because my brain wasn't in it. So I went back to school."
Stein went on to study the traits of successful and unsuccessful family businesses. What's most important, she says, is taking time to design and discuss a system for long-term planning. It should be done at formal meetings, not piecemeal or around the dinner table.
"Making room for strategic planning is the most essential piece," she says. "Ask everyone: Where do we want to be in five years, as a family? As a business? And as an individual? The answers to those questions will change the whole landscape, because then when opportunities come up, you know they are opportunities."
When drafting a business plan – or even just laying the groundwork by brainstorming collective dreams for your company's future – its important to reflect on what makes you and your family unique, advises Kathy Marshack, a Vancouver and Portland-based psychologist and family business coach who is the author of Entrepreneurial Couples: Making it Work at Work and at Home.
"It's about knowing who you are and what your family style is, and designing your family firm around that," says Marshak. "Maybe you're all super go-getters and want to take your business online and international – good, go for it. Or, if you're content running the business out of your house, and you don't care much about earning millions, that's great – just make sure you're all on the same page."
If you're working only with one partner, and you are in a relationship, whether casual or spousal, it is advisable to document your business relationship in a formal business-partnership agreement. The document should, at a minimum, include duration of the agreement, partners' capital contribution expectations, and divisions of profits and losses. You can also include salaries, job expectations and terms upon which the partnership may be dissolved. If this sounds like a business prenuptual agreement, that's exactly what it should be, says Marchack. But the agreement shouldn't reflect or foment hard feelings: It's designed to protect both partners in the business.
"When you love somebody, when you trust a sweetheart or a spouse, you think you don't need a business partnership agreement – you're afraid the other person will think they're not loved," she says. "But I've seen a lot more heartache come from not having a legal agreement laid out beforehand as to who owns what should partners need to part."
Dig Deeper: Why Some Family Businesses Thrive Generation after Generation
Running a Family Business: Defining the Relationships

Part of setting clear expectations is also in the present. Making sure every employee – er, sibling or child – is content requires not only outlining, but also maintaining every individual's responsibilities in the business. That can be accomplished through implementing some simple human resource tools, such as classic job descriptions. But if you're just starting out, you can let the process begin organically due to the unique and sometimes sensitive nature of family relationships, experts say. After all, everyone involved has a big stake in how the business succeeds.
Stein suggests as a starter, plan family business meetings. Don't rely on discussions around the dinner table to run a business. "What typically happens is you're running the business and you're mired in the business, so you rarely sit down to make a point of discussing what's going on," she says.
Another rule to determine – either collectively as a business or as a CEO making policy – is who, in the present and future, is part of the family business. Decide what qualifications are necessary.
"Do you want them to have outside experience? Do they need to have education? Does everyone in the family get a job here? Or are there boundaries?" she says.
Making an employment policy includes deciding on compensation standards as well as expectations for employees. And before you think about the future, set guidelines for the present.
"One idea that I've often asked people to do is for them all to talk about what they feel they bring to the table, and what they feel the rest of their family members bring to the table," Lopez says. "It helps to decide what roles its best for each member to take on."
If you're a small business without many formal HR policies, it can still help to give everyone a job title, description, and performance standards. Rewards are key – whether it be a certain title that a family member desires (and lives up to) or a certain salary they need.
Marshack says men at the reins of a family business need to especially be aware of the significance of their children, mother or wife's contribution to the business. "People have in their mind a certain amount they believe they are worth. It doesn't matter what that number is, but if you're not paid a certain amount, you have grumpy people," she says. "Even in this day and age, I see businesses where the women are not paid, or are not paid as much, because they are just seen as helping out." There's a difference between casual advice or a friendly coffee run and full-time receptionist duties. If a partner, spouse or child is providing more than occasional task work, they should be fully compensated for their time.
In his book, The Survival Guide for Business Families, Gerald Le Van stresses the importance of fair compensation. Reasonable benefits should come "along with an understanding of money, it's meaning, its potential, its limits, what is involved in making, spending and saving money…" There is a relationship between money and self-esteem, he notes, and as the manager of a family business, that's something you need to be cognizant of nurturing.
Dig Deeper: When an Entrepreneurial Streak Runs in the Family
Running a Family Business: A Focus on Healthy, Productive Communication

It's one thing to say you'll try to communicate better with family members, but it's another thing to actually do it. Experts say this is one of the most difficult parts of running a family business.
If you're willing to set up strict guidelines from the start, the ideal situation is to draw a clear line between family and business discussions. Just as you shouldn't discuss Cousin Terry's wedding shower plans at work, you should not let business intrude upon a family dinner. Doing so would not be fair to work productivity – and it's not conducive to a happy home life either.  To continue reading this article click here.

SBA Offers Training to Female Entrepreneurs

This may be an old article, but there can never be enough help out there for anyone endeavoring to start their own business.
Regards ~ Kris Halterman
The online training course is part of a government-wide initiative to help women-owned businesses win federal contracts.
By Lauren Folino |  Oct 27, 2009

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The Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering a new online training course that caters to women business owners. Entitled 'Winning Federal Contracts: A Guide for Women Entrepreneurs,' the course is designed to help female entrepreneurs learn about the federal procurement process.
Using the course's self-paced scripted and audio guide, women are educated about contract rules, given suggestions on where to find contracts, and offered proposals about how to sell to the government. This initiative is a byproduct of an August announcement by the Obama administration, which asserted that it would be committed to promoting federal contracting opportunities to women- and minority-owned small businesses.
According to Jim O'Connor, director of the SBA's small business training network, the course is designed to "enable women to better understand" the process of obtaining federal contracts. "It's designed not only to provide an overview, but also to provide links to resources," he said. "We covered all the basics in the procurement arena, with particular focus on how to win recovery-based contracts."
Though in 1994, the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (FASA) was established, which set a goal for federal agencies to award at least 5 percent of federal contracts to women-owned small businesses, the actual percentage has not risen above 3.4-percent (representing $14 billion in contracts in FY08).
Barbara Kasoff, who is the president, CEO and co-founder of the non-profit public policy advocacy organization Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), in addition to being a member of the National Women's Business Council (NWBC), said that she would absolutely recommend this training course to women entrepreneurs.
Kasoff explained that WIPP's members are women business owners, and her organization's focus is to work with them on economic issues, like business growth. "That's why this [program] is so critical to us," she said. "We have a vested interest in this, and we work closely with the SBA, and the women's centers, and corporations to put together these tools."
With over 2,300 participants in the first 14 days of the course, O'Connor said his organization is pleased with the positive feedback, so far. He affirmed that the SBA is committed to helping agencies achieve that 5 percent goal for this fiscal year. "We have a number of new outreach programs to help women understand the procurement process through our women's business centers, and we also have a training exercise that will be completed soon," he added.