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OK, I have a couple of issues.

First I am not sure what I should do other than written books for my finances. Is there any free software that you know of so that I don't have to spend $600 plus on the programs?

Second I am wondering what I should do about adding more plows to my business. I have always paid for everything personally, that's how I built my business and how I've added new items everytime. I am now looking that I may need to add at least one plow maybe even two for this year. If you have any suggestions on where to go for company finances please let me know. I'm starting to think with the almanac predictions and the customer base expanding the way it is that I may be in a desperate situation. At least I have two other trained plow drivers in my employment, I may need to use them.

thanks in advance for all your help.
 

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First of all, I'm wondering if you already own a computer? If so, invest in QuickBooks Pro, you can get it online from www.OfficeMax.com for $199, and I'll bet if you shopped around a little you could find it discounted, like at Sam's Club or Costco etc. If you don't have a computer, and you plan on continuing to operate and grow your own business, then you need to get one and learn how to use it or hire someone who does. QuickBooks is really easy to use, and you will be able to run financial reports and keep a good eye on your business that way. There are other accounting programs out there too which are probably just as good - I have always used QB and like it, so that's what I'm recommending.

Second, a great big red flag went up when you said you paid for your plows personally. Maybe you mean you paid cash? If you are getting paid to plow, that is a business, and you need to run it as a business. Even a sole proprietorship is a business and you should be paying for everything out of a business checking account, not your personal account. I may not have the whole picture, this is just responding to the limited information you gave.

For financing, start with your local bank - go in and talk to them about a business loan or line of credit. A lot is going to depend on your financial status and current credit rating. If you have any vehicle titles in hand, your bank may be willing to hold those, along with the plows you are purchasing, as collateral for a loan. There are also some equipment leasing finance companies out there that will do a $1 buyout at the end, so you are actually ending up purchasing the item. A word of caution - we have used these a couple of times in the past as a last option; their terms are more lenient than a bank if your credit isn't great, but they are going to gouge you hard on interest rate. If you can find another way, you'll be better off. Depending on what is there in your area, sometimes a smaller local bank will be more willing to work with you than one of the large national chain banks.

If you are not doing this already, you really need to separate your personal finances from your business. Separate checking account, separate set of books. This is really important.

I know some of the other guys here will have some more great advice for you. Good luck :)
 

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First of all, I'm wondering if you already own a computer?
Basically it starts there. If you want to run a business these days you need to be PC savy......you obvoiusly have enough savy to find LTS. there really isn't any other way to understand the guts of Business other than quickbooks. The only other thing I would suggest is accounting 101 and maybe 201. JMO other than that go with instinct and what has worked so far.

So Welcome! Thanks for joining LTS. you found the right place for some help with plows.....snow.......trucks......computers...Etc. Awesome place for some help....I am a few hundred posts still getting help....:haha :rolling:wink
 

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Well first iam pretty sure you must own a Pc . Like Karen i thought the same thing on how your wording buss, go into a bank without a DBA, Sol Prop and some forum of buss plan and unless like Karen said you can secure your own loan dont count on to much from the banks right now.

If your just truly starting out and want to get on the wagon with buss even if you dont want to invest in QB get at least a Globe Accounting book and it can be hand entered trust me long before Qb this is how i not only learned but did my own accounting.

Alot of Bennys to a young buss being legit, chances are with new equipment purchases you may very well write off your first few years into a tax refund:wink enjoy it why you can has things grow you will learn to hate all 4 Qtrs and April 15th trust me..

One other thing since again iam not fully understanding your question, DONT buy equipment based off a forcast for winter ..... If you have truly signed on new accounts then by all rights make sure you can cover with enough equipment.

So lets start from the begining Explain exactly what your wanting to do alot of things need to be asked back to you like Insurance Lib, and commerical, Etc.
 

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thanks for the great feedback. Yes I mean that my equip. has been paid in cash, no loans needed. I have the insurances and everything needed. I even worked with the SBA and the Chamber Of Commerce in my area to be sure I have been doing everything correctly. I do have a computer but I am not feeling too great about spending too much money on accounting software. I guess I find it concerning since I have to pay to have someone help me with taxes at the end of the year and I want to be sure that I'm getting my monies worth.

I have decided to join this site due to the great responces and wonderful quality of people willing to help out. I do thank you all for your in put and I will def. look into the software since it seems as if everyone is using some form themselves.

As far as the equip. goes I found that last year i was both stretched thin and also at times I was in need of work. I pushed all season to make a name for myself and pride my self on offering services that no one else will. I even clean off your cars for you when I remove snow from your walks and drive ways. I have not done any commercial areas at this point but have been requested to do so. I also may be jumping too early concerned that this winter could make or break me for winter work. I am one that has to work at all times by the way I was raised. I guess I'm afraid of losing too much.

I will continue to look at the software since i have about two months before I am in need of it. The young lady that takes care of stuff for me durring the summer isn't around durring the winter so I'm very confused and overwhelmed by having to do it all my self. not only am I the worlds worst speller, but I'm not good at getting after people that owe me money. Last year I collected per push. This year I would like to invoice. Do you think that is a better idea? Any recomendations that you have I will be thankful for. This will be my second season alone and I'm a bit over concerned.

thanks.
 

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You need to do the following in this order:

1. Hire an accountant
2. Buy Quickbooks pro and work with the accountant about account coding. Record EVERY penny of money in and money out.
3. Hire an attorney to draft contracts.
 

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You should definitely get QuickBooks. It has a lot of features you will find really helpful. For example, you can put in an invoice and make it a template for all your other invoices, and you can also memorize a transaction and it will automatically enter it at whatever later dates and however often you tell it to. I use this for my monthly bills to commercial accounts. Some of them are standard bills, same price each month, so it just enters them automatically and when I open the program a Reminders list pops up that shows me what forms I have ready to be printed out. For invoices that change, I just memorize the template, it enters it automatically (so I don't forget to send someone a bill), and then I just have to enter the details.

It is very user-friendly. And it does have spell-check on all the forms. Something else you can do is type in your contract as an Estimate, customize it and memorize it, then it is all ready to send to your customers, all you have to do is change the price and select them from your customer list, it fills in the address and it's ready to mail in a window envelope.

It's also great for budgeting and paying bills. The blank forms pop up on the screen and look just like a paper form. So for example to write a check, it looks just like a check on the screen, you just fill in the blanks and print it out. You will be able to print profit & loss reports, keep track of expenses and income by job, etc. It's pretty much up to you how simple or detailed you want to get. Plus you can then just give your accountant a copy of the file when tax time comes around.

Since you have a couple of months, if you get it now it will give you time to become familiar with it, so when the snow flies you can be all set up and ready to go. :)

Oh, one other thing. There are several different versions of QB. I've been using QuickBooks Pro, which is the least expensive one, and it does great for what I need. From what you have described, I think it would work good for you too - you don't need the more expensive versions. I'm actually still using the 2002 version. I'll have to upgrade next time I get a new computer, but it's still working just fine for me.
 

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I took a small business course at my county college. I use quick books for my finances. My county college offers night classes for Quick books.
 

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I took a small business course at my county college. I use quick books for my finances. My county college offers night classes for Quick books.
I think this is a must for any buss owner. I grew up into a family buss so probley too old school but just the same my point is this if your debating cost and wanting to stay on the cheap then get a Accounting book at Office Max its 16 bucks and has all the breakdowns for doing your monthly, and scheduled tax's . Make a template with spell check on mircosoft word should be on your pc for a invoice.

Like Karen iam still using QB Pro from 03 and it works fine. Most here will agree that QB is your best choice but iam trying to help you understand before computers this was all done without its truly how i learned the ins and outs of buss and also when it came time to hire a bookeeper i knew what she was doing and not second guessing her.

Like Peter said fine a accountant and build a relationship i have been with mine for 22yrs and trust me we dont always agree but i know hes got my back . This person if good at there job will take a ton of pressure off you has they should take care of the skelly of the money end of your buss you fill out your little 16 dollar globe accounting book take it to him or her and let them take over.

Now as my accountant has told me i not only caused him grey hair but balding, he also knows that 22yrs later iam according to him one of his most profitable accounts he handles. I use to do all of what iam suggesting to you has my buss's grew i handed more and more over to hired help only so much time in the day. The only thing i still do is payroll iam in SOLE custody of the check book, trust is has far as i can see even after knowing someone 22yrs i dont trust anyone when it comes to Money..

A lawyer is handy "Close your eyes and Ears Peter :D" Find a lawyer you trust not one thats only concerned with lining there pockets, mine is a customer in my repair shop and a snow cust and doesnt fit the stero type of a typical Attorn sadly during my divorce because of his relationship with my wife and myself he refered me to a mud shark that taught me its better to just go fine someone you hate and buy them a house,:wink , its the only thing that Mike has done thats disapointed me.

Ok there ya go striaght from Father Fred buss 101 without frills dont worry about the spelling part :wink i have been ragged on here for 5 yrs about it when it comes to people seeing company paperwork and doc's i turn on spell check;). Dont get overwelmed jump in and get your feet wet understand first what your gonna poss ask someone else to do one day when your buss growth allows it.
 

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thanks

Thanks for all the information. I did end up talking to my local private owned computer shop and the suggested quickbooks, or peachtree depending on what my accountant is able to use. I am not closed to anymore advice, I just want people to know for sure that I am thankful for what they have given me so far. I am thinking that QB is the best bet though because after checking out the websites on both not only is qb a better price but is much more user friendly. I def. need something that is easier to use. I'm not good with money. I plan on using the same accountant I use for my personal accounting. I have prefered them for years.

As far as the lawyer is concerned, other than contracts what is it that I would need to pay a shark for? I know that my contracts need to be iron clad, but at the same time I am confused on what else I may need one for.

I also have a good friend of mine who is looking to branch into the winter maintenance end of things. He does not want to compete with me but rather would like to join forces over the winter. What do you suggest would be the best way to handle this? I don't think he'd ever do anything to hurt business with me, but at the same time I don't want to have a "Legal partnership" because I also don't trust many people. Should I just allow him to compete with me and do a better job than him or should we try to get smoething worked out?
 

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I also have a good friend of mine who is looking to branch into the winter maintenance end of things. He does not want to compete with me but rather would like to join forces over the winter. What do you suggest would be the best way to handle this? I don't think he'd ever do anything to hurt business with me, but at the same time I don't want to have a "Legal partnership" because I also don't trust many people. Should I just allow him to compete with me and do a better job than him or should we try to get something worked out?
Why not hire him as a sub contractor? Allot of people do that, I did that last year. As long as you two both have a contract in place with each other outlining no competing for X amount of years everything should be good. Also state his duties as a sub contractor IE start times after you call him out, Equipment, Insurance and lastly total contract amount and any overages.

If however he does decide to compete against you, you are covered and have a leg to stand on as you both signed a legal agreement.

That worked out great for me as he passes me jobs that he does not want anymore or are to small. He is the bigger contractor and a great friend to have as well.

Dave.
 

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We keep our route tight, a very specific area. But I always get calls from people looking for a contractor who are outside that area. So I have a few contractors that I refer to. We have a good working relationship, I refer to them and they refer to me. I even have a page on my web site where I have a link to these other contractors who service areas that I don't. They appreciate the referrals, and refer back to me in return. But we don't have any kind of formal contract. If I decided to expand my route I could, and if they decided to take work in my area, they can. So it's not a real non-compete arrangement, but in reality that's how it works out and it's good for both of us.
 

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I run quick books online. I can do all my work on the road and my accountant can go online and access all my info and keep that end up to date.
I pay under $10 a month for it and the fact he can get in to do his job makes it worth it.
 

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I run quick books online. I can do all my work on the road and my accountant can go online and access all my info and keep that end up to date.
I pay under $10 a month for it and the fact he can get in to do his job makes it worth it.
Thanks for the info, I ended up getting quickbooks, I have no need for the online stuff since I just use Jackson Hewitt for my taxes, no regular accounted, just once a year.
 

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Thanks for the info, I ended up getting quickbooks, I have no need for the online stuff since I just use Jackson Hewitt for my taxes, no regular accounted, just once a year.
I would STRONGLY recommend that you find a good accountant. Those tax shops are far from good accountants. If all you're illing out is a 1040EZ then fine, but people there are part-timers/seasonal fill ins. There's so much that goes in to a tax return, which leaves so much to go wrong. It would be money well spent. A good accountant is going to be proficient in Section 179 limits, different methods of depreciation - double decling balance/straight line, etc.

Without hubris, I have an undergrad in Financial Management, an MBA, have had my own business, my full-time job now is for a mid-size co as head of finance and operations with 50+ employees and $40M+ in annual revenue. Guess what, we still have an outside accountant who does an annual review along with our tax prep and filing.

A good accountant will save you his fee and then some v. going to a corner seasonal part-time tax form filler-outer.
 

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OK, with that in mind what do I want to look for out of an accountant? i mean is there a way to tell if you are going to work with one worth it or not?
 

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Someone who works fulltime doing it most will come from a firm some are independant. Mine came 22yrs ago from a referal from a friend at the time Jim owned several Resturants in Saginaw Mi at that time when we met it was in a booth over a steak sandwich , little did i know he would grow with me from that first meeting, Like John said theres noway i could trust a H&R Block or any company like that handling Schedule C tax work for me. And again like John said i dont care what his fee is its priceless for all the work he does for me during the whole year and tax time , mine handles my sales tax, Qtr, and end of year he has about has much invested into his office and equipment has i do a Carrier the important thing is his phone gets answered 12 months out of the year.

We have had our moments theres been times i felt he was sounding like my Dad , theres been many times i went out of my way to prove i needed a piece of equipment and showed it on sales reports, a good Accountant should be in contact with you and monitor your intake we set down three times a year formally and many phone calls Dec is honeslty the biggy at that time he takes what i have done from a company stand point and projects this has kinda become Christmas cause you either spend some or give it to the feds.

I dont have the knowledge or degrees John has i would like to think i could float on my own somedays but one thing in buss even with QB i wouldnt want to have just QB and a renta chair if i had to set down with the Man...:wink
 

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Fred made some good points above. Do you belong to any local trade organizations, Chamber of Commerce, etc? Like any other business, referrals are the best way to find a qualified tax accountant. Ask other businesses that you frequent who they use. If they've been in business for a while and have had any measure of success, more than likely they have a good accountant. That's how critical this is. You can be the best landscaper, doctor, diesel mechanic, etc. but without someone who knows your business and how to maximize your numbers, none of it matters.

A good accountant should be able to give you a map to get your business to where you want to go. Don't settle for someone who will only review the past quarter's financial information - you need to forecast and look ahead. This will help you to plan for growth, or plan to ride out a down cycle. A byproduct of this is analyzing your tax efficiency. Like Fred said, there are benefits to buying equipment at the right time, etc.

I would ask around and get the names of a few accountants. Then interview the accountants - do they have any other clients in the same business or industry as you, will they advise you on tax planning, will they advise you both short and long term on how to gwo and run your business?

Have you decided on how to legally structure your business? DBA, LLC, Subchapter S, C Corp? They are pros and cons to each. A good accountant can guide you with this critical step as well.
 
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