April is not a great month for me. First off, this year’s spring is exceedingly cold and wet, and I really just want it to be warm already! It’s also a very expensive month for myself and many other small business owners. Taxes are due, GST is due, and to add to all of that, I also have car insurance at the end of the month!
That adds up to a very expensive month.
So, my fellow small business owners, what’s a gal to do? Well, I’ve learned a trick or two through my decade of self-employment, and some of those tricks were at the expense of costly mistakes.
So here are some organizational tips for small businesses to help you keep from loosing your marbles this time of the year (and the rest, too).
- Pay yourself first: I know, I know, that old chestnut. You’ve heard it a millyun times, right? But there’s a reason why every financial advisor I’ve ever worked with has given this piece of advice: it works. A few years back, I started having an automatic withdrawal once a month from my bank account into my RRSP. Now, it’s not a huge amount of money, but I don’t miss it, and over the years, it’s going to add up to something, plus I get tax benefits for doing so. A second thing that I do is put aside a percentage of all my self-employed earnings for taxes and GST. GST is 5% (though I end up paying less than that in reality), so I like to put aside 20% of everything that I make for tax time. This is hard–you want to spend it–but you’ll breathe a sigh of relief when you have to pay your taxes and know that you don’t have to borrow to do so. I set up a formula in Excel to help me calculate, and then move the money inside my account to a separate holding account.
- Maximize your deductions: One of the greatest things about being self-employed is being able to write off things like my phone, internet, a portion of my car, and travel expenses. I also claim all of my hosting service fees, domain registration and special ingredients I need to create recipes. Last year I also bought a camera, and I’ll be claiming that as well. Here’s a list of all the things you can write off on your taxes if you are self-employed. I keep my expenses organized using an Excel spreadsheet.
- Don’t forget hidden expenses: I have two credit cards, one is for personal stuff, and the other is for business expenses. It’s great, because sometimes I don’t save the receipt, or the purchase is done online and doesn’t always come with a receipt (like using the parking app for my car). I use a highlighter and go through all of my credit card statements at the end of the year to discover hidden expenses I may have missed because they didn’t come with a paper receipt.
- Make lots of notes: I always scribble on my receipts who I met with, what it was regarding when I’m having a meeting in a coffee shop. This helps immensely at tax time, and will also be a big help if (god forbid) I got audited.
Here are my Excel spreadsheet templates that I use. May your write-offs be plentiful, and may your tax bill be low.
Blank Small Business Finances Worksheet