Time for tax preparation

bookkeepingIt’s amazing the relief that people feel once tax season has been completed. A burden has been lifted and now they can catch their breath. Ironically, now is the best time to start your tax preparation for next year. Think about it – you have just completed the bookkeeper tasks that you need for your accountant, plus you realize the time it takes to get your accounting reports prepared.

Bookkeeping can be simple. For lots of users its categorizing the expenses and income is where there is a disconnect. By using software applications like QuickBooks online and Xero your existing bank and credit cards can be synced automatically. Now you don’t have to enter the numbers but simply match them up using a preset format that will assign accounts to your transactions. There are bookkeeping services that will set up QuickBooks and provide online QuickBooks training and routine bookkeeping services.

One of the best bookkeeping tips is start now! It may seem intimidating but its easy to automate your bookkeeping. QuickBooks offers application integration with most banking institutions. A little bookkeeping training will go along way in helping you save time by automating your data entry. If you start your bookkeeping services now when your accountant asks for for your annual tax information it will be a few clicks on the mouse and youre done….now that is a relief!

Traveling with Technology

traveltechWith the travel season quickly approaching, many people wonder what to bring with them to stay connected. After a recent trip to Bali, I am amazed with the ability to access the rest of the world from an underdeveloped country. Wi-Fi is in nearly all hotels and most public locations. The biggest questions are figuring out which gadgets to bring.

 

Portability and ease of use are the two most important factors. Laptops, tablets, smart phones and e-readers are the most common devices travelers are taking with them. Most travelers bring a couple devices so here is a quick guide for travel:

 

Laptops – Choose something small, under 13”, and it must be durable so aluminum or a high density plastic is a great option. You might not need lots of storage but a minimum 128 GB will store any media needed while you’re on the road. Solid state hard drives are the best because there are less moving parts which could break, but can be more expensive. SD memory slot is a nice feature which prevents you brining an extra cord to transfer pictures from a camera. Don’t spend more than $1000

 

Tablets – For those not getting as much work done a tablet is an ideal option -slim, light, and long battery life. They are great for web browsing, watching movies, listening to music, and emailing. There are pretty slick solar Bluetooth keyboard devices that improve functionality and help to protect the device while getting bumped around in your bag. iPads are most popular these days but if you have a limited budget there are plenty of android devices which offer similar functionality. Be sure to go into a store and actually get your hands on one prior to buying it, half of the user experience is in the ergonomics.

 

Smart Phones – Most travelers these days already have a smart phone, so use it. International rates can be high so if you don’t have an unlocked version and swap out your sim card be sure to notify your provider and change the phone settings to avoid using cellular data outside the network. You’ll find WiFi everywhere and using apps like skype, viber, google translate you can use your phone just like your at home – call whenever, snap a photo, reply to an email, etc.

 

E-reader – If you don’t have one yet, an E-reader is a great way to minimize your load and maximize your options. Battery life lasts weeks, you can store dozens of books, connect nearly anywhere, and if you purchase one with a web browser you’ll have access to emails and the internet.

 

Security should be considered also. Fortunately many hospitality locations depend on providing a safe facility to keep people coming back; a single theft or bad review on tripadvisor.com could drive patrons away. The days of the maid stealing a computer are nearly past. However, physical theft is always a concern so be sure you are smart and pick a location that has good online reviews and an environment you feel secure in. Don’t flash your gadgets in public places like bus stops with high levels of traffic.

 

With public WiFi be sure to limit entering passwords and usernames, and keep your private browsing of banks, credit cards, administrative tasks to a minimum. Paypal security key is helpful for online transactions.   Backups make you feel safe about not losing pictures or data from your trip so look into an online service like Crashplan, Google drive, or Carbonite. Try to coordinate all your devices and if you have similar cords and adapters, condense or buy a universal adapter to keep things simple. Don’t forget some sites like FaceBook, Pandora, and Twitter are not able to be accessed from outside the country so be aware it’s not the hotel internet causing the problem.

 

Traveling today is easier than it’s ever been. You can book hotels and day excursions after reading all about it from the group who posted a review the day before. Technology does make it better. If you looking to get some work done cloud and remote access to QuickBooks online or your CRM will allow you to do your bookkeeping and keep sales active.  Be resourceful and plan out your trip but remember things are a bit different than here in Carlsbad. The internet might be slow or the person at the front desk might not know why you are not able to connect. It’s all about the experience, safe travels!

 

 

Cloud Computing

cloudcomputing

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal
management effort or service provider interaction.”

- The National Institute of Standards and Technology

The “cloud” is a general term used to describe the Internet.  “Cloud Computing” can be
defined many ways, but in its simplest form it is the ability to access files and use software applications hosted on and accessed via the Internet.

The cloud has evolved to provide small businesses shared hardware and software resources for low cost. Cloud computing service providers can afford to do this because the capital costs required to provide the services are spread across thousands of customers.

Some examples of cloud computing technologies include:

  • QuickBooks Online – Hosted Accounting Software for bookkeeping
  • SalesForce.com – Hosted Customer Relationship Manager (CRM)
  • DropBox – Hosted File Sharing
  • Google Docs – Basic Word Processing, Spreadsheet and Slide Presentation Software
  • Hosted Exchange Accounts – Shared Email/Contacts/Calendars/Tasks for use with Outlook, iPhones, iPads, and smart phones.

The most obvious consideration and end user benefit focusing a cloud based service, also known as “Software as a Service” (SaaS), is the low upfront costs.  Cloud based services generally require a monthly subscription and an initial set up fee.  Because cloud services are based on consumption, monthly fees will vary with the amount of data stored and number of users accessing it.  The benefit is that the end user is not required to have anything more than an Internet browser and a basic computer.  No software or server hardware is purchased or installed at the end user’s office.

On the other hand, low cost cloud based services have several drawbacks.  The Internet itself has a cost to access and it isn’t always as fast or responsive as you would like.  End users waiting for their screens to refresh or data to download or upload can be time consuming and make for a less friendly and less efficient user experience.  Most cloud based software applications have fewer features than a competing product that is installed locally on the end user’s computer.  This is mainly because an Internet browser isn’t as sophisticated and has less capabilities than a traditional locally installed application. Web applications such as Google Docs are great for basic office document
functions but are incapable of doing more complicated word processing or spreadsheet
tasks.  Many cloud based services are also a “one size fits all” model.  Very few SaaS vendors allow you to customize their services to meet your specific organization’s needs.

To bridge the gap, some companies are blending the use of hosted hardware infrastructure with traditional software installations and many non cloud based applications now offer cloud capabilities.  This provides the best of both worlds – a hosted application which can be accessed either locally or through the internet with the capability to customize it for your business.

Utilizing cloud computing has already become a regular tool for many companies.  The key is to identify and understand which tool is the right one for the job.