January 27, 2010

W-2s are out

I’ve just dug myself out from mountains of paperwork. W2s went out yesterday which feels great.

You know the amount of paperwork a small business has to take care of is staggering. People kept telling me I would need to hire a book keeper. I haven’t yet. One part because I don’t want to spend money on that. But if I’m honest I’ve probably made almost enough mistakes to pay for a book keeper. The more important reason to do the books myself is that I want to understand this stuff and know what is going on. I want to know how our money is spent, but I also want to know how these processes work. Too often administrative stuff is dealt with by hiring somebody to hide it. That’s how costs grow out of control.

So I’ve streamlined the staffing and scheduling function, that works pretty well for us. And I’ve streamlined payroll, which is great. It’s really really fast now. And I’ve set up taxes for online payments with reminders and stuff, so that’s taking care of itself for the most part. Well, until Massachusetts changes the rules again. This deserves another post, but I have more than a few things to say about a new system called QUEST. Bill pay is online or by credit card and pretty fast. If you can get a vendor to take credit card it is great because it adds another 30 days from a cash flow perspective, and you can earn points that can help your business.

We’ve been improving our accounting for receipts, though it’s still not where it needs to be. Clover buys each manager an iPhone. They email photos of any receipts to a “receipts” email address. And voila, instant receipt record keeping electronically. Still requires somebody to go through and enter everything into Quickbooks (one of the worst UIs I’ve ever seen).Quickbooks is dreadful and super super slow.

I haven’t yet figured out a good system for managing licenses etc. There are dozens of these and it’s really easy to get behind on the re-applications. And we need a more integrated system to manage inventory, ordering, and sales. It would be great to find a way to tie these altogether without a massive SAP install.

This stuff is all a bit nitty gritty, but it’s essential to keeping a business running smoothly. In our case all this stuff has to happen if you’re going to get your Chickpea fritter.

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