It has pretty much become a tradition for me to start my year-end right on New Years’ Eve and into New Years’ Day. This does not mean I sit in my office and spend all of the evening crunching numbers and working on a tax return while ringing in the New Year. I just get things started and finalize some things to wrap up another year in the word business. I will send a few emails in order to obtain a further electronic paper trail if necessary and verify some numbers with people such as my insurance representative. This is just to verify what I paid on my property insurance for the year. An important number to have since most writers operate their businesses from home.
Having done this several years in a row now, the great thing I have learned is how important efficiency in small business is. The more on top of things you are with your business, you are left with significant more time to research, read, write and work. Personally, I dread the idea of leaving everything until the last minute and filing a tax return too close to or on the day of the deadline. Like a writing assignment, a deadline for your business is something that you would not want to miss. It can reflect negatively back on yourself personally and professionally. Regardless of how many small business owners feel about the branches of government that collects taxes, it is vitally important to the survival of your business (whether writing or otherwise) that you maintain every piece of information and keep track of everything. It also has simple formulas entered to keep total of everything. Because I use PayPal for receiving payments on a regular basis, I have a category for transfer fees. In Canada, this is an allowable deduction for business! I suspect it is in other places as well.
Several years ago I developed a basic Excel Spreadsheet where I can easily track payments and expenses. In a future post I will attempt to pull together an example for your benefit. If you know how to use Excel, you will find it is very easy to come up with something that will work. In fact, every year I find a new way to improve upon the existing framework of what I have written. Sometimes it has been something as simple as a heading revision or a new category to summarize expenses. It improves every year.
Commitment to the business is just as important as commitment to the creative side of the work. If you find yourself staying on top of things or even ahead of them, you will discover more time for the creative process and everything else in life.
A bit of efficiency on the business side can translate into great product on the page and screen. It is best to be on top of your everything you need to keep track of so your business activities and information remain consistent and concise.
Remember regardless of where you are to consider investing in appropriate legal and accounting advice when it comes to understanding what your proper business expenses might be. Even an hour’s worth of time consulting with a professional in these areas can save you significant further costs in the future.