week-end report, week 45,2012

Taking my shot at describing, capturing for future, further access, what I learned this week—whether I really understood it, or not.

week 45, 2012, scaffolding city shot 167

[1]  bookkeeping  can change your game

bookkeeping is detailed record-keeping, it's like keeping score in a game, in a sport, where statistics are tracked in more detail than win-lose. In the same way that a coach would use the stats and the tape of the game to improve team performance, that's what you do with your books.

Replay the quarter for yourself as a spectator or the coach, pay attention: what did you see, learn and what will you/won't you do again?

[2] you're always starting in the middle

Whatever you're doing, the conversation, the topic, task or entertainment, when you get there, when you arrive, even it if it's the top of the hour, the intro, prologue, handshake hello: it's the middle. For you, for the others, you're all bringing everything with you—beliefs, expectations, needs, fears, preferences, interests and biases.

Take a look behind you, the beginning isn't anywhere in sight.

[3] then again, you could start over right now

scaffolding city shot 167

scaffolding city shot 167

week-end report, week 43, 2012

Taking my shot at describing, capturing for future, further access, what I learned this week—whether I really understood it, or not.

week 43, 2012
scaffolding city shot 

[1] reverse-engineering what matters

When sorting out the value of something, think in terms of when it's over. The activity, the relationship, the company — when this chapter ends (if it ends) will it have been worth it? If it's quantifiable, how much is it worth? Quantifiable, or not: how will you value it?

[2] explain it to me like I'm a five year old

At most, six. Keep it that simple. Take the time it takes. I'm thinking of the six year old who's got the floor and is not sugar-highed and hyper on stage, I mean the slow-talking, suprisingly lyrical kid getting down to basics, not yet in a perennial rush to get on to the next thing. Explain it to me like that.

[3] there is no such thing as off the books

I know I take things very literally and not everyone does. And, that maybe that's something to reconsider. Still, I can't be moved here. Gray is fine. I like gray. I won't say that anything is necessarily black and white. It's still not off the books. 

You have to identify and account for all of it. One way or another.

scaffolding city, shot 135

scaffolding city, shot 135

week-end report, week 40, 2012

Taking my shot at describing, capturing for future, further access, what I learned this week—whether I really understood it, or not.

week 40, 2012
scaffolding city shot 113

[1] you never know what will be amazing 

You never know what will be amazing to someone else.

Things you take for granted, that are easy to do, or not that exciting for you, for someone else who doesn't have you're experience or skills, relationships or openness (be that a lot or a little), these things that you can, and do, do: they can be AMAZING feats of problem-solving, kindness-compassion—brilliance—for someone else.

[2] the power of v-lookup

If you don't know this formula used in Excel to match-up data in different locations, and you provide reports, or use other people's reports, in Excel (or would like to), learn it now.

Some days, this formula is the difference between a long-ass bout of manual work (which is not only a long and drawn out battle with time, attention and stress, it leads to something that you can never be sure is right, and is not likely to be) and actually getting the thing you need done done.

And, if the different sources of data are not harboring invisible code (artifacts from their trip out of some other application and into Excel) that prevents you from matching them to each other for hours (even though they look exactly alike!), you'll not only get the thing done with integrity to your work, it'll be done quickly. I love that.

[3] what's the worst that'll happen?

Sometimes, in order to figure out how to allot time, resources, mental energy, you start from what's worst possible outcome and see what it would take to ensure that doesn't happen.

That can be about avoiding it,  or it can be about preventing it—completely—removing it from the realm of possible outcomes.

Be careful that you're not setting your operations to avoid problems, to work around them.

Instead, think in terms of what would a perfect scenario look like: easily and clearly executed, satisfying among company insiders, clients and partners. Profitable and worthwhile work.

Maybe start from the best possible outcome and reverse-engineer that.

scaffolding city, shot 113

scaffolding city, shot 113

week-end report, week 39, 2012

Taking my shot at describing, capturing for future, further access, what I learned this week—whether I really understood it, or not.

week 39, 2012

scaffolding city shot 103

[1] the most important skill

It may be that the most important skill to learn is the ability to decide to let go. Small thing or large, to be in charge of saying "That's enough. I'll move on now." In charge of when you say it and that you full-body mean it.

[2] self-service documentation

Is that possible? To be that clear and comprehensive with procedures and related documents that someone new could help herself to the how of what needs to be done? No long winding story about where details can and can't be found, and how it was done last time, though, there was that other thing, too, and on and on. Just a set of instructions, examples and reports.

Also, it needs to have some kind of flexibility, so that it works forward.

[3] paying in cash still counts

Just because you paid someone in cash doesn't mean it doesn't count, or that you don't have to account for it. It can't just disappear off your books. If it's a local handyman that asked to be paid in cash, get a receipt, or give him one and have him sign it for you. Your bookkeeper will enter it under Repairs & Maintenance and it will reduce your income, and your taxes.

If it's a regular thing and you pay someone over $600 for their work in a given year, you are supposed to provide them with a 1099 January of the next year. 

Or, you can code it as Owner's Draw (money you took out of the business for personal use) and it won't decrease your income, and you'll pay the expense without the benefit of it decreasing your income and taxes.**

One way or another it will be recorded on your books. Being a bookkeeper and caring about your business and your time, the quality of your experience, I always want to see you correctly and completely, descriptively and accurately enter every transaction. That kind of consistency makes it easier for me to do your books, and leaves me with fewer questions for you.

As a bonus, correctly and completely recording cash payments as the expenses that they are will make it easier for your accountant doing your taxes — maybe s/he'll charge you less than last time if your books are easy to read and understand. And, every item correctly and completely recorded on your books not only makes your books a useful tool to analyze, understand and improve your business, it also does not increase the likelihood of an audit or fines.

I don't know what increases the likelihood of an audit, but I do know that doing it right the first time doesn't.

The cash was real when you earned it; it was real when you spent it. No less real than if you earned it or spent it via check, credit card, or ACH transaction. It needs to be recorded on your books and on the books of the person spending it or receiving it. Really.

It's not just the right way to do it, it'll be easier that way.

scaffolding city, shot 103

scaffolding city, shot 103

**That works for sole proprietors and LLCs.

week-end report, week 37, 2012

Taking my shot at describing, capturing for future, further access, what I learned this week—whether I really understood it, or not.

week 37, 2012
scaffolding city shot 71

[1] it's not just data entry

Bookkeeping is not just data entry. That's part of it. A big part of the day-to-day of it. Every piece of every transaction needs to be entered, recorded in your books. And if it's not done correctly, completely and consistently, it won't be useful to you.

Data entry is just data entry when the input is more of the same same same day after day after day. Completely defined, consistently executed. That's not true for most businesses.

Is it true for yours?

How much time do you spend on exceptions? 

How easy is it for you to explain what you do? How easy is it for your staff, co-workers & managers?

What do they do all day? I mean could someone else step in and do it if they needed a day off or left the company suddenly? What are the details of the work they do?

And, what's the value of it?

That's the story that your books, when everything is entered, will tell.

[2] looking at a screen all day is tiring

Take breaks. Do eye exercises. Stop to eat lunch.

[3] you don't necessarily have my attention

Nor do I yours. Even though I'm looking at you, we just said hello, and my hands and ears are free of phones, no screens between us, I am not at my desk and you are not at yours. That's a start. That's good. Still, we don't necessarily have each other's attention.

It takes a few minutes (at least!) for me to turn my inner attention outward, to actually listen to you and what you're saying than to interact with what your saying means to me and my inner conversations.

Sometimes, I don't turn my attention to you at all. It's not intentional. I don't even know that I'm not doing it.

How about you? Can you hear what I'm talking about?

scaffolding city, shot 71

scaffolding city, shot 71