October 28, 2012

Bulk view

Business adventures: Accounting

One of the tough but crucial lessons in growing a business is learning when to part ways. I ended one of my oDesk arrangements with an accountant/bookkeeper when I realized I just wasn’t comfortable working with her. I’d had mixed feelings for a while, so I spent some time sitting down, reviewing her work, and trying to clarify things so that I could get the partnership back on the right track.

When I paid attention to how I felt and what I was worried about, I realized that I’d lost confidence in her and our working relationship, so it was better to make the transition. Fortunately, our digital workflow made it easy. I revoked her access to my shared Dropbox folder, ended the oDesk contract, unshared the password I’d given her through LastPass, and cancelled the authorization on file with the Canada Revenue Agency. It was much less awkward than arranging for the physical transfer of receipts might have been.

I don’t think I’ve learned enough from this to ace future hiring decisions. I’m glad that I set it up as a small, low-risk experiment, working with her for a few months instead of scrambling to find an accountant near my filing deadline. In the future, I might get better at figuring out people’s strengths and avoiding their weaknesses, and paying more attention to niggling doubts.

In the meantime, I want to make sure that I meet all the relevant tax deadlines, so I’ve been crunching the taxes myself. TurboTax turns out to be not that scary to use. I had to figure out the GIFI codes for tax-line mapping and I’m not entirely sure about some of them, but once I got that sorted out, TurboTax imported my Quickbooks transactions.

It’s a good thing I kept my first year of business fiscally simple: no dividends, no salary, no home-office deductions, no creative tax arrangements. I’m probably going to be paying more corporate income tax than I should and I’ll likely be audited at some point, but I think it all works out in the end. Next steps: get my web access code, confirm when I need to file taxes, and see about getting another accountant who can review my books.

Onward and upward (and maybe sideways)!