Tuesday, January 15, 2008

QuickBooks 2008 Highlights and A Couple of Suggestions

This article was written by Dick Ginnaty, CPA

QuickBooks 2008 is out and a couple of the changes are going to be helpful. First, they have added something called the QuickBooks Coach which is designed to get you up and running quicker. It introduces to you to the QuickBooks Learning Center, and offers a new, interactive guidance mode so you can learn about QuickBooks faster. Second, they have improved the online banking setup so in most cases you can establish online banking in three steps. Third, they have created a preformatted Excel spreadsheet that will enable you to more easily import data to QuickBooks, and fourth, they have integrated QuickBooks with Microsoft’s Outlook or Outlook Express to enable you to e-mail invoices and statements to your customers directly from QuickBooks.

Although the changes in QuickBooks 2008 are helpful, they are evolutionary in nature, not revolutionary, which brings me to suggest that as far as updating your existing QuickBooks, I believe that unless a change they are making is so critical to your operation that you must have it right away, I would suggest a bi-annual update plan (i.e. upgrading to the latest version, every two years). This will keep you reasonably updated (Intuit only supports QuickBooks versions that are two years old or less) and not brake your pocketbook.

My other suggestion is to establish a second company in QuickBooks for you to experiment with. By that I mean, set up a second company similar to your “real” company. This “play” company is where you can try out new or unfamiliar QuickBooks procedures to see if they give the right result. Such things as implementing on-line banking or e-mailing of invoices, etc. should be tried out in the “play” company before going live to the actual company. Obviously, any mistakes or redoes in the “play” company will not modify or destroy any “real” data, allowing you freedom to try new features without endangering actual records.

Good luck and here’s hoping it “all adds up” for you.

(If there is any area in accounting or tax that you think needs to be addressed in this newsletter please e-mail Dick at Ginnatycpa@aol.com and if it is of general interest, he will address it in future articles).

Four Essentials for Happiness

This article was written by Brian Tracy, Author

You may have a thousand different goals over the course of your lifetime, but they all will fall into one of four basic categories. Everything you do is an attempt to enhance the quality of your life in one or more of these areas.

The Key to Happiness

The first category is your desire for happy relationships. You want to love and be loved by others. You want to have a happy, harmonious home life. You want to get along well with the people around you and you want to earn the respect of the people you respect. Your involvement in social and community affairs results from your desire to have happy interactions with others and to make a contribution to the society you live in.

Enjoy Your Work

The second category is your desire for interesting and challenging work. You want to make a good living, of course, but more than that, you want to really enjoy your occupation or profession. The very best times of your life are when you are completely absorbed in your work.

Become Financially Independent

The third category is your desire for financial independence. You want to be free from worries about money. You want to have enough money in the bank so you can make decisions without counting your pennies. You want to achieve a certain financial state so you can retire in comfort and never have to be concerned about whether or not you have enough money to support your lifestyle. Financial independence frees you from poverty and a need to depend upon others for your livelihood. If you save and invest regularly throughout your working life, you will eventually reach the point where you will never have to work again.

Enjoy Excellent Health

The fourth and final category is your desire for good health, to be free of pain and illness and to have a continuous flow of energy and feelings of well-being. In fact, your health is so central to your life that you take it for granted until something happens to disrupt it.

Peace of Mind is the Key

Peace of mind is essential for every one of these. The greater your peace of mind, the more relaxed and positive you are, the less stress you suffer, the better is your overall health. The more peace of mind you have, the better are your relationships, the more optimistic, friendly and confident you are with everyone in your life. When you feel good about yourself on the inside, you do your work better and take more pride in it. You are a better boss and coworker. And the greater your overall peace of mind, the more likely you are to earn a good living, save regularly for the future and ultimately achieve financial independence.

Control Your Attention

Life is very much a study of attention. Whatever you dwell upon and think about grows and expands in your life. The more you pay attention to your relationships, the quality and quantity of your work, your finances and your health, the better they will become and the happier you will be.

Action Exercises

Here are three things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action. First, take time on a regular basis to think about what would make you really happy in each of the four areas. Second, set specific, measurable goals for improvement in your relationships, your health, your work and your finances and write them down. Third, resolve to do something every day to increase the quality of some area of your life—and then keep your resolution.

Writing Effective Company Policies

This article was written by Bern Lefson, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

One of the areas of management that frustrates the company is written company policies. If you agree with this, you should find the tips below of value.

Writing effective policies involves several basic steps and considerations. A critical first step is for the manager to have a clear vision of the policy’s objectives. Those objectives should serve as a standard for evaluating each aspect of the policy.

With the purpose of the policy established, the manager can proceed with the following steps:

  • State the purpose in the policy so that employees understand the employer’s viewpoint.
  • Plan and construct the policy to support the company’s objectives.
  • Write with a positive approach and expectation.
  • Anticipate barriers to enforcement such as regulatory constraints or difficulties with tracking and monitoring employee behaviors relevant to the policy, and craft the policy in a way that accounts for those factors.
  • State the rules and procedures of the policy, such as who the policy applies to, what must be done to comply, what is prohibited, any known exceptions, and the consequences of failing to comply.
  • When the policy writing is satisfactorily completed, communicate to all employees the purpose of these policies. Be positive in the communication.

Policies should be applied uniformly.

As with most writing, the writer should leave the policy and return later to review and revise it with a fresher perspective. Further, a critically wise move is to have a disinterested person review the policy and give feedback on how the policy looks to someone who is seeing it for the first time. This will assist the manager making the policy more understandable.

Finally, an employer should have policies reviewed by an attorney before implementing them.