New Business? Do these three things first!

New business? Do these three things first! You'll save yourself from a headache later on.There’s so much to do when starting a new business and it can get overwhelming fast. Let’s focus on three important things you should do right now before business picks up.

Already in business? No problem. These can be implemented at any time, it’s just best to get them out of the way first, if you can.

1. Open a separate business bank account

It’s super easy to make business purchases out of your personal account and toss the receipt in your purse, but I promise you’ll thank yourself at tax time if you get rid of this bad habit. If you’re a sole proprietor (the default business structure), you can go to your bank and set up another personal bank account using your social security number.

If you’re any other form of business, be sure to take your business formation documents, federal ID number, and anything else your bank may require. Call the bank or check their website for a list of information you’ll need so you don’t have to make multiple trips. Once you have this account set up, only use it for business.

Click here to see NerdWallet’s list of free business checking accounts.

2. Decide on a bookkeeping tool

There are a bunch of bookkeeping software options available, but my top three faves are Quickbooks Online, Xero, and Wave. With these cloud softwares you can automatically import and categorize your transactions which is a huge time saver when compared to manual entry in a spreadsheet. Once the transactions have imported into whatever system you choose, assign them each an income or expense category. Then you’ll need to do a reconciliation (which is like balancing your checkbook).

If the learning curve of a new bookkeeping software is too much, there’s nothing wrong with using a spreadsheet to organize your financial information. The key is to choose something you’ll do on a consistent basis so you don’t have to add everything up at the end of the year.

3. Research your sales tax obligation

As states try to round up funds, they’re turning their attention to sales tax as the solution. Many states are now requiring sales tax on select services in addition to tangible products, which in past years, had no sales tax requirement. Before you send your first invoice, get clear on whether or not your state wants you to collect sales tax on your products and services. This will save you an awkward conversation with a client later on if you need to add the sales tax and may also save you from paying out-of-pocket for the sales tax.

If you can’t find the answer to whether or not your product/service is taxable, you’ll probably save time by giving your state department of revenue a call. The best time to make this call is early in the week and early in the day. Because, let’s get real: no one answering phones is going to be super excited to get you info on a Friday afternoon!

Take care of business by finding out whether or not you should be collecting sales tax (even on services!)Tweet me!

Getting these three things crossed off your checklist will reduce your stress and set your business up with a good foundation.

Amy Northard, CPA

The Accountant for Creatives
+ taxes + bookkeeping + consulting
+ Hang out with me over on Instagram!

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