Bookkeepers: not as expensive as you think.

Bookkeepers: not as expensive as you think.

There are more than a few reasons why I didn’t end up with a career in sales. When I sold computers, I had no problem telling a customer that another store had what they needed. I was also prone to underselling someone if I felt it better suited their needs and budget. Most of those customers were happy with the honesty…my employers were not.

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5 Steps to Spring Cleaning Your Home Office

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Based on the view out of my windows today (above), it’s hard to believe that it’s Spring. We just got another round of snow last night, and it’s not showing any signs of letting up today. Yet, despite that, the calendar says that Winter is officially over. If you live somewhere that looks like Southern Alberta, then just close your eyes and pretend with me for a while.

Spring cleaning shouldn’t be reserved for your basement or garage. It doesn’t even need to be exclusive to physical spaces in your life. If you run a home business, this is a great time to get reorganized, and better prepared to have a breakthrough year. Here are 5 areas of your home business you should focus on.

Physical Files


When David Allen talks about GTD, he describes how it’s important to get things out of your head, and into a better system. I believe the opposite is true as well. If your physical workspace is full of clutter, that will get right back into your head and kill your creativity and productivity.

If you haven’t already, take out all of your 2010 files from the cabinet, and place them into proper filing boxes. Keep them around for reference until you’ve got your taxes done. Once that’s behind you, be sure to safely store them somewhere away from your daily workflow. Having a big stack of boxes in your office clutters up the space and your head, so find somewhere else for them to live.

Digital Files


Just because they aren’t falling out of overstuffed folders doesn’t mean your digital files shouldn’t be cleaned up too. First, make sure all of your files are backup up; either online (backup service like CrashPlan or Carbonite) or offsite (hard drive in a safety deposit box or with a friend). Then, transfer all of your 2010 files to a separate folder and away from your current projects. If you feel you will need to access them, then keep them tucked away on your computer. If not, store them on an external drive.

Equipment


This is a great time to give all of your office equipment a good once over. Get a can of compressed air and give all the digital equipment a good cleaning (turn them off first). Check to see if anything needs to be repaired or replaced. Having a broken chair can hurt your body as well as your efficiency. This may also be a good time to replace your keyboard and mouse. Face it, they’re full of germs, and it’s an inexpensive way to feel like you’ve upgraded your equipment.

Supplies


Now that you’ve cleared out your 2010 folders, it’s time to stock up on supplies. Make sure to pick up new folders, pens, paper, labels, and whatever else you use on a regular basis. There’s nothing worse for productivity than having to stop your work because you ran out of stamps or envelopes. Taking one day away from the office to get all of this done will save you a lot of time in the future.

Clean Up


Now that everything is repaired, restocked, and backed up, give the office a thorough cleaning. If you can, find a way to take advantage of the extra sunlight that Spring has to offer. Maybe a plant or two will help you out of the funk that Winter tends to put us in. Oh, and make sure to give your kids back that stack of toys that managed to pile up in the corner. Better yet, finally admit that those are your toys, and put them away yourself. Smile

If the weather where you are looks anything like mine, this is the perfect time to do this. You can have a combination Spring cleaning/Snow Day. When the weather finally comes around, you’ll already have the cleaning done. Then, you can duck out of work early, and get outside to enjoy it. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

I <3 My Business, What About You?

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It’s February 14th, Valentine’s Day here in my part of the world. I hope that you all have someone special to celebrate with today.

While I’ll be spending a considerable portion of the day telling my wife why I love her, I didn’t feel that this was the right venue for that. Instead, I thought I’d take a minute to tell you why I love my business.

Being a bookkeeper has it’s ups and downs. So does working from home. Put them together, though, and what I’ve discovered is that I get a pretty darn good combination of the things I enjoy most about running a business.

1. Helping Others

More specifically, helping others’ businesses. Sure, I like numbers too, but that’s not the main reason I enjoy being a bookkeeper. Everyday I get to help entrepreneurs achieve their goals. Most of the time it’s really basic stuff: make sure the bills get paid, the government remittances are on time, and the employees get their paycheques.

But every once in a while I get to do something more significant. I spot a way to save them a lot of money, or a new direction to take the business. Whatever it may be, I get to take a little pressure off the business owners who just need some time to focus on what made them want to launch their business in the first place. That’s a great feeling.

2. Confrontation-Lite

Running a bookkeeping business (especially from home) comes without a lot of the stresses that other businesses have. I don’t have to argue with vendors over pricing. I don’t have to confront the jerk who keeps taking my parking spot. I don’t have to hire or fire anyone.

I have worked all sorts of jobs in my life. I was even the manager of a retail store for a (very long) year. All of these roles have taught me a lot about myself. I learned that, in a pinch, I could work in a wide variety of roles within a company. More importantly, I learned that what I’m good at is being behind the scenes. I’m a bit (read: a lot) of an introvert. Arguing with someone over the phone about my costs on Widget A is not my idea of fun. Neither is explaining to a customer why their shipment will be 3 weeks late. So, I get to let the owner know about potential problems, and then they get to make the uncomfortable phone calls.

3. Open Schedule

I know some assume that running a home business means you can sleep in and work in your PJ’s. Actually, for the most part, you’d be right. I don’t do either of those things, but I sure could. Bookkeeping in general isn’t really time of day sensitive. Sure, there are lots of deadlines to manage, but unless I need to get a deposit into the bank before it closes, most of my work can be done just as easily at 2am as it can at 2pm.

For example, as I’m writing this, I have a nasty cold. Do I have to drag myself across town to infect an office full of people? Nope, I can sit in bed with a jumbo pack of Halls and get work done while I rest. If my kids have a recital or a dentist appointment, no problem. I’ll be there, and it won’t affect how much work I get done today.

Aren’t there downsides to this?

I suppose. If I was more extroverted, I would miss being able to talk with coworkers. I guess I don’t get the chance to meet potential clients at networking events. But then again, I’ve never met most of you face to face either. Despite that, we’re still able to talk. If you have a question, you can still ask me anything, regardless of whether you’re across town or across the globe.

At the end of the day, I have a great job. Sure, there’s always room for improvement, but that’s the challenge.

So, what about you? Do you love your business? Share your business love in the comments.