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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This doesn't have anything to do with the Ag sector but small business records keeping..

I have a small side business and I now have all the state & fed licensees to be legal. Now I need to be able to keep track of expenses and tax info.

Can anyone recommend accounting software for a beginner, I have looked at "quick books", ebay has older versions cheap with a working key, is their any differences in software or makers?

Thanks

Chris
 

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Years ago I bought Quickbooks Pro and did not like it. I thought it was to complicated for me to use at the time. I then picked up a copy of Quicken, and that was more to what I needed. All I keep track of is my checkbook, and i also use it to bill with. For my small construction business it was just what I needed, and is simple to use. Every year I make a backup to a flash drive and give that to my accountant. It seems to work for what I want.
 

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Chris,

This is what I would do (and I presently do), take a look at a Schedule C, (attached?). Set up an Excel spreadsheet, using YOUR headings that work and line up somewhat closely with the Schedule C. Weekly or sometimes more/less often, depending upon work load/time constraints, enter your info into the spread sheet(s).

My column headings are somewhat in the order of the Schedule C (part II), eg., Advertising (Line 8), Car expenses (L9), Insurance (L15), Rent (L20), Repairs (L21), Taxes L23), Meals (L24), Utilities (L25),etc.

I actual have a spreadsheet page per month for my business expenses (the thirteenth page totals all the columns and the next spreadsheet page just reduces the spreadsheet page to a one-page printout of my expenses (that I give my CPA).

Part I of the Schedule C would have your income info broke down (Excel spreadsheet again?).

Either you spend time trying to adapt Quicken, QuickBooks to fit your operation or create something that does fit by creating your own spreadsheet is the $64 question. Naturally, you can see that I prefer sitting up a spreadsheet that fits my operation, verses trying to adapt something that might not fit. I do enough of what are called 'work arounds' on the farm, I didn't need any more aggravation at the office. ;)

One other tid-bit that I use, this might be a little old fashion, but it works.

Take 12 envelopes (at least 6" x 9"), put the months on them (Jan, Feb, Mar, etc.). Every time you get/pay a bill/invoice, put that receipt into the corresponding monthly envelope.

If you take this one step farther and write on the outside of that envelope the info, eg 'electric bill $22.57, insurance $325, advertising $112, etc.'. You might like yourself much better at tax preparation time. You don't need to dig for the receipt/info it's right on the outside of the envelope.

I do the first part of this (the 12 envelopes), being I use spreadsheets (one per month), I don't do the writing on the outside of the envelopes anymore.

No matter what direction you head good luck and keep good records, you will be miles ahead in the long run, IMHO.

HTH,

Larry
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks everyone, I don't know how to make a spread sheet so I may just do the folder every month, I don't have a lot at this time so we aren't talking a lot of record keeping yet..
 

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I use an Excel spreadsheet for my recordkeeping as well. One technique I use that I find helpful is to create a "data entry" sheet in which all the numbers are input and then use the Pivot Tables feature to create reports for Profit / Loss and tax reporting. The recurring items are copied and pasted into the datasheet and then all I do is input the numbers. Saves a lot of typing. I've even created a macro to semi-automate this process.

The QuickBooks series of bookkeeping applications are probably the most widely used accounting software for small businesses. I bought it years ago and tried using it. Never got the hang of it and just kept using the spreadsheets.
 

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If you have only a few things to track, now is the time to get involved with Excel. NO ONE will be able to make a program as good as you can for your own business.

I did not know what I was doing when I first started either, but after I bought an expensive system online, and the download got messed up, I had to do something. It started small, but now is pretty substantial, and so I add my expenses on a weekly basis, and it stays right up to date, taxes and everything.

It does not sound like much, but my bank (who administers the Small Business Administration here in Maine) love the fact that I keep everything straight. When they ask for numbers, I have them, and can prove where I got them from. (I even added those stupid crop reports for the USDA so when they ask, I already have the data they want).

I named mine Fiscal Flock because I have sheep...
 
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MS Excel.

I took a 6 week course Monday nights when I was young, you can do wonders with a good spreadsheet.

I download my bank statement into CSV format (xls) and then just shuffle the values over to the various expense columns.

PS I'm an accountant.
 

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I know this answer comes a bit late, but for others who might have the same question, I would recommend checking out Wave Accounting. It's a great option for small business owners, and it's completely free to use. You can track your expenses, invoices and even connect your bank accounts to automatically import transactions. However, if you're able to find an older version with a working key for a good price, that could be a great option too. In any case, keeping track of your expenses and tax information is important for any small business, so it's great that you're getting started on that. And if you're ever in need of succession planning advice, I've discovered a helpful resource at successionresource.com. Cheers!
 
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