(415) 418-0020 info@proteafinancial.com
A Thankful Message from Protea Financial Director Zane Stevens

A Thankful Message from Protea Financial Director Zane Stevens

November is a month to reflect and be grateful for all the good we have in our lives. While we may be thankful for things throughout the year, we don’t always vocalize those thanks. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, though, and I want to put my personal thanks into words. I want to let everyone know how thankful I am for each and every one of you.

Thankful for Our Clients

First, I want to express my gratitude towards all of our clients. When we started Protea, we started with one client. Just one. They were a very small business, too. At that point we had no idea if Protea would even grow much more than that or even have a future.

But grow it did, and now we are consistently motivated and amazed by our diverse and interesting clients. We are focused on the wine industry, and we are very proud of the number of people we can help on a daily basis.

Thank you to each client, past and present, that has put their faith in us. As a company, we are very happy you chose us. We will continue to try and repay your faith by working hard, remaining focused, and growing and improving. We will continue to strive to reach our mission of better accounting for everyone. To each of our clients, thank you for trusting us! We are truly blessed with such amazing clients!

Thankful for Our Team

Next, I’m personally grateful for everyone on the Protea team. Every single one of you is amazing. Whether you’re new to Protea, have been here for years, or have found an opportunity elsewhere, you have contributed to our success. I appreciate all the hard work you put in, even during the times it gets tough. I am thankful and grateful for all the commitment and sacrifices everyone on the Protea team has made. We have a great future ahead, and I look forward to seeing the growth and success of each one of you. Thank you! I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful team. 

Thankful for Our Network

I’m grateful for our supporters and connections. When I first started Protea in 2014, I was new to the country and to the wine industry. Through hard work and a bit of luck, I’ve connected with so many wonderful people. I’ve had the opportunity to create lasting business relationships and, at the same time, cultivated some really good friendships.

I’m thankful to each banker, CPA, and consultant that has trusted Protea with a referral. It’s crazy at times to think you put your trust in us when we were a brand-new business. Thank you! I am blessed to know so many wonderful people and to have had your help in growing this company.

Of course, no post on gratitude would be complete without mentioning my family. I have parents that have always supported me no matter what I decided to do. Knowing that they believed in me gave me the confidence to follow my dreams. I have two wonderful kids who love me and mean the world to me. They keep me motivated and are the reason I strive to be better every single day.

I have the most amazing wife anyone could ever ask for. I do not deserve her. I appreciate her so much and am so thankful for her support, her caring personality, and her love. I am thankful she is my best friend and supports me daily. My family gives me the strength to keep striving to be the best!

I am truly lucky. I am grateful for my team, my supporters, and our clients. Each and every one of you is amazing, and I am fortunate to have your trust and your friendship. You motivate and encourage me daily. Today, and every day, I am so thankful for everything I have been blessed with! Thank you!

What is a W-2?

What is a W-2?

One vital task every business owner must do annually is generate and submit W-2 forms to their employees, the IRS, and other entities. These forms are important because without them, employees cannot complete their tax returns. However, while some parts of the form are fairly self-explanatory, some are not. Understanding what a W-2 is and how to fill one out is necessary. If you fail to send these forms out or make mistakes on them, you can be fined by the IRS or subject to an audit. Let’s look at the basics of a W-2, who needs to receive one, and what information is conveyed so you can always be compliant with IRS regulations and answer any questions your employees may have.

 

W-2 Basics

The W-2 is a form that the IRS requires every employer to file for every employee that has worked for them during the year. This includes employees who have left and employees who may have only worked a few weeks before the end of the year. Your employees need the information on the W-2 to accurately file their taxes. The IRS uses their copy of employees’ W-2 forms to ensure that the employees claimed the correct amount of income and deductions on their returns and that your company withheld the correct amount of taxes, social security, and other withholdings.

Protea Financial What Is a W-2

 

Who Receives a W-2?

Any employee who is on the company’s payroll and paid a minimum of $600 during the year must be issued a W-2 by their employer. Again, it does not matter when the individual worked for the company during the year or if they are currently an employee. The only time the length of an employee’s time with the company affects the need to send a W-2 is if they did not earn at least $600.

You may have paid non-employees to do work for you during the year. These individuals are categorized as contractors or freelancers. Instead of a W-2, you may need to submit a 1099-NEC form. These forms are similar to a W-2 but are designed for non-employees.

Businesses need to submit W-2s in triplicate. One is sent to the employee, one to the IRS, and one to the state the employee pays taxes in (typically their state of residence, but not always). While employee W-2s were traditionally mailed, today companies can make them available online and can submit W-2 information to the government electronically.

 

When Are W-2s Sent?

W-2 forms are sent out early in the new year. Employers must have all W-2s postmarked or made available online by January 31 each year. Employees should have them in hand by the middle of February so they can file their tax returns before the April 15 deadline. Employers who do not mail out the forms timely can be fined.

Employees who have left a job can ask that employer for their W-2 at any time. The employer then has 30 days to generate the form and deliver it to them. If the employee does not request the form, the employer does not have to provide it until January, even if the employee left the job early in the year.

 

Why are W-2s Important?

Without a W-2, employees cannot correctly fill out their annual tax return. They need the information provided on the form to determine their gross wages, what was withheld, and other information. The IRS will use the form to make certain the tax return includes the correct figures.

 

Protea Financial W-2 Boxes

What is Reported on a W-2?

A W-2 form is composed of six lettered boxes, 20 numbered boxes, and several other spaces for information. Some of this is self-explanatory, but other boxes are not as clear. Let’s break down the form into sections and look at what information is reported there.

 

Boxes a-f: Employee and Employer Information

  • Box a contains the employee’s social security number.
  • Boxes b and c are for the employer’s EIN/FEIN and the business’s name, address, and zip code.
  • Box d lists the employer’s control number. Some companies have a specific control number to help identify items in their system. However, smaller businesses likely do not have this. Box d can be left blank in that case.
  • Boxes e and f contain the employee’s name, address, and zip code.

 

Boxes 1 through 6: Income and Withholdings

  • Box 1 includes all of the earnings paid to the employee by the employer. This includes wages, tips, and any other compensation. It does not include anything that is considered a pre-tax benefit like contributions to a 401(k) or life insurance.
  • Box 2 is the amount withheld from the employee’s salary for federal income tax.
  • Box 3 is the amount of wages subject to social security tax. Only a specific amount of earned income is subject to this tax. That amount is multiplied by a specific amount (6.2 percent in 2021) and reported in box 4.
  • Likewise, boxes 5 and 6 list how much of the employee’s income is subject to Medicaid tax and how much was withheld.

 

Boxes 7 through 14: Other Reported Income and Information

This section may not be as clear if you have not dealt with a W-2 before. This is where  having a bookkeeper assist in preparing W-2s can truly help because they understand what qualifies as allocated tips, deferred income, and the other items required here.

 

  • Box 7 is where tips are listed.
  • Box 8 lists allocated tips. These are additional tips given to the employee. Employers are only required to allocate tips in specific situations, so this box may be left blank.
  • Box 9, Verification Code, is no longer used. It should be blank.
  • Box 10 indicates how much was deducted from the employee’s check for insurance for their dependents. These deductions may include matched spending and other benefits.
  • Box 11 is for the total amount of money an employee received from a non-qualified deferred compensation plan.
  • Box 12 will contain one or more letters. These letters are specific codes for types of income. There are four available boxes (12a through 12d).
  • Box 13 is a check box the employer uses to identify if the employee is a statutory employee, contributed to a retirement plan, or received any sick pay from a third-party.
  • Box 14 is essentially a miscellaneous box. It is used to report any income or withholdings that do not fit elsewhere.

 

Boxes 15 through 20: The Remaining Boxes

The bottom line of the form, which includes boxes 15 through 20, is used for state reporting:

  • Box 15 – Employer’s state ID number
  • Box 16 – Employees wages subject to state tax
  • Box 17 – Amount withheld for state tax
  • Box 18 – Wages subject to city or other local/state taxes
  • Box 19 – Amount withheld for these city/local taxes
  • Box 20 – The city/state/other entity that received the taxes from box 19.

 

Other W-series Forms

In addition to the traditional W-2 form, there are a few special variations that some employees may receive. These forms are typically used to report income in U.S. territories. For example, the W-2AS is used by those who live and work in American Samoa. Other forms in the W-series include the W-2CM (used in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), the W-2GU (used in Guam), and the W-2VI (used in the U.S. Virgin Islands. There is also the form W-2c, which is used to submit corrections to a filed W-2.

One solution to avoid filing a large number of W-2c forms is to work with a payroll provider such as Gusto. This full-service provider does more than just ensure that your employees are paid correctly and on time. They also handle all of their clients’ W-2s, 1099s, and other tax forms. If you do not want to worry about filling out W-2s yourself, you may want to consider working with one of these services.

 

Differences Between a W-2 and a W-4

When an employer hires someone, one of the first things this new employee should do is fill out a form W-4. This form is what the employer uses to determine how much to withhold from the employee’s paycheck. The employee will enter their number of dependents on the W-4 plus indicate any additional amount they want withheld from each paycheck. The employee can make changes to their W-4 at any time. For example, it should be updated if the employee gets married, has a child, gets divorced, or if they determine they want to change their additional withholding amount.

 

The W-2 and W-3

In addition to submitting a W-2 to the Social Security Administration, employers also submit a W-3. This form summarizes the employee’s wages and the amount they contributed to social security. It is used by the Social Security Administration to reconcile the amount received. Employees do not receive a copy of this form.

Protea Financial Can Help You Prepare W-2s and Avoid Fines

If you are new to paying employees, you want to make certain your W-2s are generated correctly and made available to employees before the deadline. For that, you need a professional. Protea Financial can assist you in preparing W-2s and with any other bookkeeping need you may have. Contact us today to learn more about virtual bookkeeping and what we can do for you.

Call Protea Financial for Help Understanding Your W-2

For help understanding a W-2, how to fill it out, or what you need it for, please contact us. We are here to help!

Advantages of a Virtual Bookkeeper Over a Physical Bookkeeper

Advantages of a Virtual Bookkeeper Over a Physical Bookkeeper

If you recognize that your business has reached the point of needing a bookkeeper, you have two options: you can hire a local bookkeeper you can meet with in person, or you can hire a virtual bookkeeper. While outsourcing your bookkeeping to a virtual contractor is a fairly new concept, there are a number of benefits to doing so.

 

What is a Virtual Bookkeeper?

Before looking at the advantages a virtual bookkeeper offers, it is important to fully understand what one of these professionals is and what they do. There is no difference in skills or education between a virtual bookkeeper and one you meet with in person. They are full bookkeepers who have the education, knowledge, and training to do the job. They are experts in their field.

Virtual bookkeepers provide all of the same services that an in-person bookkeeper does. In fact, you may be able to find a virtual bookkeeper who is able to provide specialized services related to your specific industry. It may not be as easy to find such services in your local bookkeeper options.

The biggest difference between virtual and physical bookkeepers comes in their location and in how you communicate with them. Virtual bookkeepers can be anywhere around the country. You may, in fact, even find a great virtual bookkeeper who lives outside the U.S. As long as they are familiar with U.S. tax laws and other financial regulations, it truly does not matter where they live. Some virtual bookkeepers may even frequently travel between locations.

These travels will not impact a virtual bookkeeper’s ability to work or communicate with their clients. Instead of meeting at an office, you will communicate with your virtual bookkeeper over the phone, through email, or via online meeting. This may actually not be that different with how you would communicate with a physical bookkeeper. Most of your communication with them may be over the phone or email anyway—you may rarely visit their office. In that case, there is truly no difference between a virtual and a physical bookkeeper.

 

Protea Financial Virtual Bookkeeping

Why Work with a Virtual Bookkeeper?

If you are communicating with your bookkeeper primarily over the phone or email, why not look at the advantages of a full virtual bookkeeper? You may find that these advantages positively impact your budget, the work you receive from your bookkeeper, and your company’s future. Here are just a few of the things virtual bookkeeping has over traditional, in-person bookkeeping.

Finding a virtual bookkeeper is quite easy, too. All you have to do is go online and search for one. However, you will want to carefully check reviews before selecting one. You do not want to work with a bookkeeper who is less than reputable. You should also do some research into the company to determine if they have worked with businesses similar to yours and what kind of social media reputation they have. You can also use social media to ask for recommendations.

 

You Only Pay for the Work You Need

Most virtual bookkeepers offer a pay-as-you-go option. This flexibility means you only pay for the services or work you need done. You do not pay any retaining cost, nor do you have to pay any of the costs associated with hiring your own internal bookkeeper. With an employee, you would pay their salary, benefits, vacation pay, and other direct expenses as well as provide them with office space, equipment, and other tools. All of this can add up very quickly.

With a virtual bookkeeper, you only pay the agreed-upon service costs. You can add or remove services or dedicated hours of work as needed, allowing you to adjust your cost as you go. You may need your virtual bookkeeper more during certain parts of the year or during specific projects. For example, you may initially want a virtual bookkeeper to handle your accounts payable and receivable. Later, however, you determine you could also use their help in tracking orders and inventory. Simply contact your virtual bookkeeper and add these services.

 

Cloud Software and Sharing Makes it Easy for Your Virtual Bookkeeper to Access Information

One thing that may seem to work in favor of physical bookkeepers is that you can meet with them and bring them your physical receipts and other paperwork. However, take a look at your invoices and other paperwork. How much of it are you actually getting in a physical form? More and more vendors are cutting back on providing customers with paper receipts. Instead, they are emailing the paperwork or making it available via an online customer portal. You can download and print this paperwork if you want, but you do not need to.

With a virtual bookkeeper, you simply email these virtual receipts to them or copy them over onto a shared drive such as Dropbox, Google Docs, or Microsoft OneDrive. You can even give your virtual bookkeeper access to your online accounts so they can get these documents straight from the source.

By sharing these documents as you receive them, your bookkeeper is always up to date. This saves them a lot of time, especially around tax season. You do not need to take anything to them. If you do have physical receipts, you can snap photos or scan them. You may not even need to do that if you enter your transactions into a shared accounting program. By using the cloud, you can always access your financial reports, while your bookkeeper can always access your latest financial documents.

 

Protea Financial Virtual Bookkeeping Services

You Can Find the Right Bookkeeper for You

If you only want to work with a local bookkeeper, you may find yourself fairly limited on options. This is especially true if you are in a niche industry. For example, how many local bookkeepers fully understand the winery business? You may not find many that do.

With a virtual bookkeeper, though, you have hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of bookkeepers to select from. You can find the bookkeeper that understands your industry and that is a good fit with you personally. Having a good working relationship with your bookkeeper is just as important as finding one who understands your needs. You need to find someone who knows your niche, is able to provide information in a way you find helpful, and is available to answer your questions. A local bookkeeper may be able to meet these needs in a limited way. By taking your time to find the best virtual bookkeeper, however, you can find a professional who fully provides the services you need.

 

Virtual Bookkeepers Are Flexible

A physical bookkeeper likely has very set hours. If you call or email them outside of their work hours, they may not respond. However, virtual bookkeepers are more likely to offer flexible scheduling. This is because they understand that they are not going to be in the same time zone as all of their clients. They will need to be available to you during your workday. Many are also available outside of your standard business hours or on the weekends. They are often able to work with you to find the best time to meet, even if it is outside of regular working hours.

Virtual bookkeepers are also flexible in the services they offer. You can scale up or down your services as needed. This helps ensure that you protect your budget when needed but that you can also get the level of bookkeeping you may require at certain times of the year.

 

You Can Focus on Your Business

Finally, by outsourcing your bookkeeping to a virtual professional, you can focus on your business. Even if you only spend a few hours on your bookkeeping every week, that is time you could be spending on your company strategy. Only you can lead your business forward, but virtual bookkeepers can handle your finances for you. Why not take advantage of their expertise? 

In addition to freeing you up to grow your business, you may find that the cost of a virtual bookkeeper is much less than you expected. This is because these experts do not need the same amount of time as you do. They have professional accounting software and other tools, in addition to their training, that makes it much easier for them to get the work done.

Having a professional advise you financially also helps you make better business decisions. You will know where you stand profit-wise, your exact expenses, and much more. With this information, you can make informed decisions regarding products, pricing, vendors, and every other aspect of your company.

 

Protea Financial Brings the Benefits of a Virtual Bookkeeper to You

Ready to explore what a virtual bookkeeper could do for your winery? Protea Financial has a team of experienced bookkeepers who understand the industry and have the skills needed to assist you in all of your bookkeeping needs. You don’t need to spend all of your time doing the books when we can provide that service and much more.

Contact Protea Financial today to discuss your bookkeeping needs and how we can help you. 

The Benefits of Hiring a Bookkeeper with QuickBooks Experience

The Benefits of Hiring a Bookkeeper with QuickBooks Experience

Bookkeeping is not a new science. Historical records indicate bookkeeping existed as early as 6000 B.C. Ancient Babylonian kingdoms recorded inventory from crops. Bookkeepers in Greek and Roman societies counted and noted agricultural crops, as well as payments to farmers. While bookkeeping may have been around for thousands of years, they are just as important now as they were in the ancient past.

Not only do bookkeepers remain important, but they have branched into specializations.

In fact, there are many different types of bookkeepers with different specializations. While a general bookkeeper is great for a small business, you may reach a point when you need a bookkeeper with areas of specialization. One area of specialization that bookkeepers can have is with computer technology for bookkeeping, such as QuickBooks. Here is some information on why you want to hire a bookkeeper with QuickBooks experience for your business.

 

Protea Financial What Does a Bookkeeper do?

 

What Does a Bookkeeper Do?

The term bookkeeper is short for bookkeeping clerk. Bookkeepers keep the financial records of a business. In fact, bookkeepers are vital for the history of a business, because it is only when a business’ records are precisely kept can information help a business survive. For example, if you don’t have a bookkeeper, but you vaguely remember paying a vendor for your business, how can you prove it, if you don’t keep accurate records?

One of the most important tasks of a bookkeeper is to keep the accounting books of a business, which means they track the income that comes into the business, as well as outgoing expenses from the business. Usually, this means that a bookkeeper tracks the business’ inventory as well, because inventory can be related to outgoing expenses as well as income from the sale of inventory. Depending on the size of your business, bookkeeping may involve using accounting software, spreadsheets and databases.

Bookkeepers also track all of the money, usually through postings to accounting software, on a daily basis. It is through posting each transaction daily that bookkeepers can regulate the amount of money a business uses to operate. Without a bookkeeper, many business owners would have no idea what their monthly expenses and income is, which prevents any business from growing, developing a budget, forecasting future expenses and income, or even securing additional financing.

While bookkeepers do not deal with hiring, onboarding, or other aspects of Human Resources (or HR), they may process payroll, and they will keep records regarding pay, taxes, and other employee withdrawals on payroll, such as Social Security and Medicaid, insurance and retirement benefits. No matter what the payroll deduction is, a bookkeeper can keep track of it.

Because bookkeepers are record keepers, it is essential that they are versed in how to keep the most accurate records possible. Bookkeepers who are excellent at their chosen profession already know all of the best ways to keep records. In the past, record keeping happened in large ledgers, leather-bound, that bookkeepers stored on shelves behind them for authenticity. Now, the best bookkeepers use accounting software to keep the most accurate records possible. One example of accounting software that bookkeepers use is QuickBooks.

 

What QuickBooks Does

In the early 1980s, two computer software programmers decided to move from designing an individual expenses and accounting program (Quicken) to designing double entry ledger books for small businesses—which became QuickBooks. QuickBooks is the predominant bookkeeping software for businesses, with a 95% saturation in the market.

QuickBooks is an important financial tool. Through the QuickBooks program, bookkeepers can keep track of a ton of business financial information—all in one program. QuickBooks can help businesses manage:

  • Accounting. One of the most important functions of the QuickBooks program is to manage income and expenses daily. With QuickBooks, each line of income and expenses are tracked electronically. The importance of having a daily income and expense tally can’t be overestimated.
  • Payroll. QuickBooks can help businesses track the amount of money outgoing for payroll, taxes and employee benefits. This is extremely important for the state and federal business taxes you owe, either quarterly or yearly.
  • Inventory Management. If you have a business where inventory is important because you are selling a product, you need inventory management. Even if you sell a service instead of a product in your business, you still have to manage inventory such as printer paper, ink, pencils, and cleaning supplies. QuickBooks can help you keep track of your inventory.
  • Taxes. QuickBooks keeps track of the taxes (state, local, and federal) that you have paid in, as well as tracking payroll taxes.
  • Invoices. You can make invoices and send them to client, accept payments, and even pay your invoices via QuickBooks.
  • Bank account tracking and balancing (reconciliation). You no longer need to balance your books, because QuickBooks keeps track of all of your incoming and outgoing expenses and income via your bank accounts. Bank reconciliations are no longer an issue.
  • Budgets and expenses monitoring. Because QuickBooks can manage your incoming and outgoing money, you will find budgeting easy to do electronically, and monitoring your expenses will be less taxing as well.
  • Managing accounts payable and receivable. QuickBooks allows you more control over your accounts payable and receivable by setting reminders and due dates for you to keep your money flowing smoothly.

 

Protea Financial Bookkeeper with QuickBooks Experience

Advantages of Hiring a Bookkeeper

With all of the advantages to a QuickBooks program, why would you need to hire a bookkeeper? The most important reason you need a bookkeeper is for financial record keeping. The larger your business grows, the harder it is to keep accurate, up-to-date records. When you hire a bookkeeper, you are able to turn over all of your financial recordkeeping headaches to them.

Another important reason to hire a bookkeeper is to give you an outside perspective on effectively managing the financial side of your business. You have tons of expertise when it comes to creating a business and making it successful, but the financial needs of your business may not be in your wheelhouse. Bookkeepers have tons of experience on financial record keeping and managing your incoming and outgoing expenses.

Although bookkeepers may cost you money up front, they will save you money in the long run, because they will be able to give you tips to save money on the expense side of your ledger. This may mean everything from trimming your office products budget to regulating the amount of inventory you keep on hand. Bookkeepers are invaluable for money-saving tips.

If you want to have time to really manage your business, concentrate on your clients, and focus on marketing and business growth, you need to hire a bookkeeper. While the bookkeeper focuses on the expenses and income side of your business, you can concentrate on making sure your business stays profitable.

 

Why Your Bookkeeper Needs QuickBooks Skills

Hiring a great bookkeeper is essential to growing your business. If you hire a bookkeeper, you need to make sure your newly-hired employee has QuickBooks skills. There are several reasons your bookkeeper needs to have QuickBooks experience.

First, one of the most important skills a bookkeeper can have is computer literacy. Although bookkeepers used to keep ledgers on income and expenses in ledger books, financial management has been working in the digital age for decades. Your bookkeeper needs to be literate in computers and computer programs, such as QuickBooks. If your new bookkeeper has knowledge of QuickBooks, and uses it regularly, you’ll know they can handle other skills on the computer as well, such as documents and presentations.

Bookkeepers must have numerical literacy as well as computer literacy. In fact, numerical literacy may be just as important as computer literacy for bookkeepers. Because bookkeepers need to have extensive attention to detail, numerical literacy is critical for budgeting and forecasting expenses and income. Your bookkeeper who has QuickBooks knowledge will have the skills to go into the program and problem solve when a mistake occurs with either income or expenses to quickly correct the error.

Bookkeepers sometimes use financial calculators for their business, in order to project future income, expenses by the month or by the year. These calculators will help you forecast when you could make changes to your business, such as adding new products or services, or adding new employees. Although QuickBooks has a ton of features to help business owners, bookkeepers with QuickBooks experience are vital for businesses. Along with financial tools, QuickBooks allows bookkeepers to utilize spreadsheets. Spreadsheets have been a part of a bookkeeper’s experience for decades, because they allow bookkeepers to lay out both past and present expenses. If your bookkeeper has QuickBooks experience, he or she will be able to keep your books accurately.

 

Protea Financial Has a Bookkeeper with QuickBooks Experience for Your Needs

Hiring a bookkeeper is one of the most important hires you will ever make. Be sure that the bookkeeper you hire has QuickBooks skills in addition to the requisite financial recordkeeping knowledge. Not sure how to hire a bookkeeper? You can begin by posting the job on job search websites. You can also ask friends or colleagues for recommendations as well. When you’re ready to hire a bookkeeper, be sure they have all the skills you’re looking for. That way, your business will continue to grow and thrive.

To find out more, reach out to us here at Protea Financial. We can help set up QuickBooks, or we can work with an existing account. Let us know how we can help!

 

Options If You Want To Move Away From Paper Checks

Options If You Want To Move Away From Paper Checks

Researchers have noticed a shift in the last two or three years in the business check writing habits of managers and owners. While the number of people using other forms of payment besides checks has been increasing, the number of businesses relying on paper checks as payment has steadily declined.

There are many reasons why paper checks for business use are continuing to fall. First, paper checks take a long time to go through the banking system. While electronic payments can hit a business’ bank account in a day or two, paper checks can take up to 10 business days to process. That is a lifetime for many small businesses. Second, paper checks are easy to duplicate given today’s technology. This means businesses that are still using paper checks are leaving themselves open to fraud because the account number is clearly written on the check. No one wants to lose money from their business due to fraud.

If you are tired of worrying about paper checks as a business owner, there is software available to help you move paperless payment systems. This has become even more important because many companies have a brick-and-mortar business as well as an online business. You need a payment system that can handle both. Here is more information and ideas for moving away from paperless checks.

 

Things to Consider With a Payment Processing System

When you begin thinking about moving to a paperless payment processing system, there are some criteria you need to consider before making the switch. First, how much will the paperless system cost your business? If the cost is too high, it does not make sense to switch from the system you already have. 

Second, will you have to sign a contract? Many business owners prefer software that allows them to try the service for a few weeks or a month for free. That way, they can decide if they like the service before they purchase it. 

Third, what kind of equipment will you need to operate the service? The less equipment your business needs to move to paperless checks, the better for your business.

Fourth, is there a customer support feature? You will want a service that allows you to contact customer service quickly if a problem arises. Finally, you need to know what forms of payment the system accepts. It needs to match the forms of payment your customers are familiar with.

Protea Financial Move Away from Paper Checks

New Payment Systems

In the past, payment processing systems came in the form of software you could download onto computers. While some payment systems have software downloads, many others are available as an app or as a subscription that is available via cloud technology. Small businesses find apps on phones or tablets helpful because they are able to view their balance sheets and payments from anywhere.

Here are three of the most popular payment systems for businesses if you want to move away from paper check writing.

 

Braintree Payments

One of the popular payment systems for small businesses is Braintree Payments. Braintree Payments began as an independent company, but they have since been purchased by PayPal, which gives them immediate name recognition and PayPal’s good security features.

There are a lot of positives if you choose to go with Braintree Payments for paperless check payments. First, Braintree Payments allow small businesses to take many forms of payment, such as PayPal, ApplePay, AndroidPay, Venmo, and Bitcoin, which puts this service ahead of many paperless payment services. Another great benefit of Braintree Payments is that the system can accept a monthly subscription payment, direct sales, service calls, online sales, and brick and mortar sales. No matter what kind of business you have, Braintree can handle the payments.

The paperless payment plan doesn’t charge a monthly subscription fee, and there are no minimum transactions your company must make monthly. Braintree charges a flat 2.9% fee plus 30 cents per each transaction. Braintree has the same amount of fraud protection as PayPal has, which is great for small businesses. One of the only downsides to Braintree is that the service does not accept American Express as payment.

 

Melio

Another payment system that is popular with businesses is Melio. With Melio you can pay invoices, but you can also receive payments from customers. Melio accepts credit or debit card payments for your invoices or sales, as well as ACH payments available as bank transfers. There are no setup fees for businesses that use Melio, and the payment system can be integrated with the Quickbooks system. You can see both incoming and outgoing payments with your phone or tablet as well as your laptop.

Melio allows you to grow the number of people who have access to your payment system as your business grows. This is great when you have multiple people handling your accounts payable or receivable. Melio charges the standard $2.90 fee per transaction. One of the reasons Melio is so popular is the ease of use. If you cannot figure an aspect of Melio out, customer service is around 24/7 to help you out. One of the only negatives about Melio is that it is not integrated with Zapier, which is a popular workshare application.     

 

Protea Financial Move Away from Paper Checks

Bill.com 

Bill.com is also very popular with businesses. Bill.com works well for both small and medium-sized businesses. The software to use Bill.com works through the cloud, so it is available to download onto a laptop. Like Melio, Bill.com allows you to pay your bills and receive payments for products or services. Bill.com has a budgeting program that gives you the ability to get credit for your business and continue to grow it. Bill.com takes ACH payments as well as international payments for products or services and requires a monthly subscription based on the size of your business. The company is tailored for companies who charge for professional services, such as bookkeeping, counseling or therapy, nonprofit organizations, and other service-oriented businesses. Bill.com can integrate with Quickbooks, Xero, Oracle, Sage, and Microsoft, which gives business owners a lot of options for integration as their businesses grow.

One of the downsides to Bill.com is the amount of the monthly subscription plan. However, if you need specialized accounting software for a consulting or other service-oriented business, Bill.com may be perfect for your needs.

 

Let Protea Financial Help Guide You Away from Paper Checks

No matter which paperless option you choose, you need to get with the future. Because businesses are constantly growing and changing, adding paperless check writing options is a great way for your business to advance with the times. To find out more about how going paperless could help your business, reach out to us here at Protea Financial today!