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What Receipts Does the IRS Require You to Keep?

What Receipts Does the IRS Require You to Keep?

When you deduct business expenses on your income tax return, you can usually refer to your records to support the expense. However, you must keep records that meet IRS record-keeping standards in case of an audit. We aim to explain what receipts the IRS requires so that you don’t miss anything when filing your taxes.

The IRS will probably ask for a receipt or another expenditure record if you use cash for business expenses other than wages, depreciation, or car expenses. The rules are more lenient if your business is a sole proprietorship, and all its expenses are subject to the personal property deduction. Here are some of the most important receipts you should keep for your business.

 

Receipts for All Business Expenses Over $75

The IRS requires a written record of all business expenses exceeding $75. In most cases, you must have a receipt for these expenses.

  • If you make a payment that does not require a receipt, you should keep a written record of the payment. The written record can include a computer log, a spreadsheet, or a diary. It must show the payment amount, the business reason for the payment, the business name and address (if different from your own), the date of the payment, and the name of the person or company that you made the payment to.
  • Keep records of all expenses relating to your automobile, such as gasoline, oil changes, repairs, insurance, tires, and maintenance. Business miles driven should be kept separate from personal miles driven. If you drive a car that you own, you can deduct the business miles driven and your actual expenses (gasoline, oil changes, repairs, and maintenance). If you drive a car that you lease, the lease payment and business miles are considered a business expense. If you drive a vehicle that you rent, you can deduct only the business miles driven.
  • Keep records of all expenses relating to your home office, such as electricity, heating fuel, cleaning supplies, telephone, internet, and insurance. You can also deduct the cost of a separate telephone line with a business message on your voicemail. If you have a home office, you must determine whether the office is a deductible expense.

 

Travel and Entertainment

The IRS requires receipts for travel and entertainment (T&E) expenses, such as airfare, hotel bills, meals, and car rentals. The rules are different if the T&E is associated with a business event that meets one or more of the IRS’s T&E rules.

You do not need a receipt to support the T&E expense in these cases. Instead, you must keep a log of the expenses and the business reason for the T&E. You must also keep track of the business purpose, who was present at the event, how much each person spent, and how long the event lasted.

Protea Financial Small Business Receipts

Advertising and Marketing

The IRS requires receipts for all advertising and marketing expenses and some research and development costs. Advertising and marketing expenses include the cost of printing, designing, and mailing promotional materials such as brochures, catalogs, and newsletters.

These also include the cost of internet advertising, website design, and fees for public relations and advertising consultants. Research and development costs include the cost of product testing and experimentation to determine if there is a need for new products and the level of customer demand for existing products. They also include the cost of developing prototypes and formulas.

 

Depreciation

Businesses that use an accrual method of accounting must keep all records. Depreciation records must show the date the equipment was placed in service, the equipment’s original cost, and the depreciation amount each year.

If your business owns its assets, you must depreciate them over a certain period. Real estate records must show the date you purchased the property and the amount of any mortgage. You must keep records of the cost of improvements and repairs to the property.

 

Business Gifts

The IRS requires receipts for all business gifts. Keep records on the following:

  • The date and location of the gift
  • The name of the person receiving the gift
  • The value of the gift
  • The name of the person who gave you the gift
  • The business reason for the gift
  • The business relationship with the person giving you the gift

If you receive a gift, keep records of the gift, the business reason for the gift, and the business relationship with the person who gave you the gift. You must report gifts of more than $25 on your income tax return.

 

Computer Equipment and Software

Businesses that use computers to process their financial data or orders of products and services must keep records of the acquisition cost and depreciation. Computer-related expenses that can be deducted from your income tax return include the cost of:

  • Computers
  • Printers
  • Modems
  • Software
  • Internet service
  • Repairs, upgrades
  • Depreciation

These also include monthly payments for a computer and internet service, computer repair fees, and computer rentals for employees who do not have their own computers. For any software titles, it is best to also add a note as to what it was used for and who used it, in case you ever need to know down the line.

 

Office Supplies

Keep records of the purchase price of all office supplies that you deduct on your income tax return. These include paper, pens, pencils, notebooks, file folders, cleaning supplies, toner for printers, pens, pencils, paper clips, and computer paper and toner.

Warranties for office equipment such as computers and printers are also deductible. You can also deduct the cost of copying and printing services.

Protea Financial Small Business Office Supplies

Mileage and Vehicle Maintenance

Keep records of all vehicle-related business expenses, such as gasoline, new tires, oil changes, necessary repairs, insurance, and all vehicle maintenance. Also, keep records of the business miles driven.

You must keep a mileage log for each business trip and every business-related trip from home. You must report all business miles driven on your income tax return.

 

Outsourced Assistance for Your Business

The IRS requires receipts or written records for all out-of-pocket expenses. You also must keep records of any payments made to independent contractors or outsourced service providers.

In addition to written records, you must maintain a written contract with any individual or company that you hire to perform any part of your business. Keep these records also to protect yourself should an issue come up with those contractors or providers in the future.

 

Let Protea Financial Help You Determine Which Receipts Are Best to Keep for Your Business

The IRS will examine your business expenses if you claim them on your income tax return. You must keep records of all business expenses to prove that they were legitimate business expenses.

Keep records in a way that makes sense to you so that you can quickly identify and locate the information when you need it. This will make tax time much easier.

You should keep these records for as long as you own the business. If you sell your business, you must keep the records for at least three years after the date you sell it.

Are you looking for more information? Contact Protea Financial today and let us help you organize your finances, straighten out your receipts, and be ready ahead of the next tax deadline.

Protea Financial Can Help You Keep the Right Receipts for the IRS

When you contact Protea Financial, you get a team of professionals who can help you with many aspects of your financial record keeping, including knowing which receipts are best for you to keep for tax time. Call now – we are here to help!

Protea Conversations: Yuri Kapilovich

Protea Conversations: Yuri Kapilovich

Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high-quality outsourced accounting at an affordable price.  Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the workforce after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were previously overlooked.  Protea strives to represent people from all backgrounds and provide an environment for them to grow and succeed in a setting that provides the flexibility and acceptance of who they are as people.

We selected the name Protea because is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of this striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.

Protea Conversations in 2022 will focus on positive transformation and representation from all backgrounds. We are broadening our Conversations with the hope that these conversations will continue to create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges leaders face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.

In September 2022, we spent time with Yuri Kapilovich, Kapilovich & Associates LLC (K&A) CPA. Yuri leverages his experience with some of the largest firms in the country (Ernst & Young, Cohn, Reznick, etc.), working with some of the wealthiest individuals in the country to bring high-quality service to his clients.

Yuri’s journey through his life and career has been filled with many moves. Born in Minsk, Belarus, he moved to Israel at the age of 1 and to the US at 12. Moving to the US allowed him to understand the intricacies of culture, language, and the dynamics of people. After graduating college, Yuri began his career with Ernst & Young and then moved around five times before realizing he could not call any of those places home. That is when Kapilovich & Associates was born.

Yuri prides himself in his ability to be a down-to-earth, personable, professional, and fun accountant. He even created a whole movement centered around that on LinkedIn and his webpage The Fun CPA.

Tell us a little more about your decision to start a career in accounting and how you decided to start Kapilovich & Associates LLC.

Interestingly enough growing up I always thought I wanted to be in Finance. When I was going through college, there was a moment when I had to apply to business school and applied as a finance major. One of my pre-requisite classes confused me for another student and gave me a C instead of an A. That messed up my GPA enough to disqualify me from business school altogether. Scrambling around, I reached out to advisors, the teacher, and the business school and rectified the issue, but the finance major was filled. Accounting it was, and I rolled with it.

After college, I had quite a rocky journey in finding a job because my internship between my Junior and Senior year was canceled last minute, and I ended up tutoring instead of working; thus, finding a job was difficult. I finally found a job and got the offer, and two weeks before graduation it was pulled from me and delayed a year. I worked a couple of internships, reapplied, and got into EY Miami; the rest is history. After jumping another five firms, I finally realized it was time to go out on my own and that I was ready; thus, Kapilovich & Associates was born in August 2021.

What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?

The biggest challenge is overcoming the fear of the safety and security of a W-2 job with benefits. Before going out on my own, I was making $145K with medical, dental, and vision insurance for me, my wife, and my son. When kids are in the picture, leaving that job and hopping into self-employment becomes infinitely scarier. Quitting my job was rocky, too; I had a deal lined up to purchase a book of business for $100K, and it fell through 5 days after I gave notice. The temptation to cancel my resignation was quite heavy, but I continued. Beyond that, once the doors to self-employment opened, it’s been a fun ride of doing what I want, trying out my ideas, and rolling forward without looking back.

Protea Financial Self Employed Accounting

What are the short-term goals for your career and yourself?

My short-term goal at the moment is to grow my monthly revenue to a point where I can hire a bookkeeper full-time, pay them VERY well, and completely relinquish all my bookkeeping work to them. They would work a maximum of 40 hours a week and that’s how I want to structure my firm.

As for my personal goals I want to continue to have a relatively light schedule and always be there for my son. That’s the currency, the goal, and the vision. How much money I make is irrelevant to me (within means haha) as long as I can achieve time and freedom to do whatever I want. This philosophy applies to me, and it also applies to anyone working for me.

What is the best advice you have ever received that has helped you succeed?

I am very blessed to have had the experience I did in my career. Hopping firms has taught me what I do not want out of my firm, and, most importantly, it gave me connections with both the staff/seniors/managers at various firms and the clients who stayed in touch. The best advice I ever got came from a client who has become a friend. His net worth is more than $100M, and having the ability to call him up is priceless. His advice resonated with me: “don’t give up, show up, and add value at every step of the way” and “focus on recurring revenue.”

Protea Financial Keep Showing Up

What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting?

The advice I’d give myself a year ago, right before starting, would be “get it in writing, Yuri.” Getting it in writing does not always guarantee anything, but I did not have that buyout contract in writing as it was a handshake deal, and it fell apart. No biggie, though. It’s all good now. A year ago, it was scary.

What advice do you give to others to help them be better leaders?

I frequently chat about this topic in my LinkedIn posts because I am about adding value. My advice to leaders is simple: Staff, not clients, first. Yes, I said it, staff, first. Take care of your people and remember that YOU work for them, not vice versa. When staff sees that you are working for them, taking care of them, and having their best interest in mind will pay you back 100 fold. When I was in the big firm, word would always get out that I take care of my staff and have their back no matter what. The best staff at these firms would want and ask to be with me because they knew they’d learn and they knew they’d be taken care of to the best of my abilities. Yes, even if it meant I was berated by partners for it (and I sure was).

A rude, demeaning, high-paying client has NO space in my business. I do not care if their fee is $30K a year. No one should be treated like this, and the client will be spoken to (that’s right, the client, not the staff), and if it repeats itself, the client is getting fired.

Can you share something interesting about yourself that will provide insight into who you are outside the professional space?

I was born in Belarus, lived in Israel for 11 years, moved to America at the age of 12 then moved around America a bit. This experience of moving around made me appreciate cultures, languages and cherish the differences in people. I love chatting with people and learning about their experiences. I also love aviation, boating, biking, outdoors, and a fun networking event.

*****

As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will donate to Positive Images (https://www.posimages.org/). Positive Images is a grassroots nonprofit organization serving Sonoma County since 1990. Their LGBTQIA+ Community Center hosts multiple weekly support groups, a youth leadership development program, mentorship opportunities, an LGBTQIA+ Library, resource and referral station, and a Transformation Station. They proudly offer a warm, welcoming, and affirming environment for young people to explore their individual identities, develop leadership skills, and contribute to our collective community. Positive Images staff lead LGBTQIA+ Cultural Competency Trainings and presentations that educate the greater community focusing on human connection, compassion, and inclusion. Their goal is a community where all LGBTQIA+ people are valued, compassionate community members, creating a just society.

Protea Conversations Let You Expand Your Network

Grow your network by connecting with the amazing companies and individuals we speak with in our Protea Conversations. If you need help finding the right fit, contact us here! We will do our best to help.

The Pros and Cons Of Bookkeeping in QuickBooks Online For Small Businesses

The Pros and Cons Of Bookkeeping in QuickBooks Online For Small Businesses

Are you thinking of using QuickBooks Online to manage your business’s bookkeeping? If so, you’re not alone. In today’s fast-paced digital world, no business can afford to lag behind, making software an essential component of success. Small businesses, in particular, must be agile to succeed. Fortunately, technology makes it easier than ever for small businesses to connect with potential customers and streamline operations.

Many businesses use QuickBooks Online for their accounting and bookkeeping needs for good reason. It can be an excellent program for managing financial information, streamlining processes, and reporting on performance.

However, there are pros and cons to using QuickBooks Online as your business’s bookkeeping solution. Let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages you should consider before deciding to use QuickBooks Online for your company’s bookkeeping needs.

 

The Pros of Bookkeeping in QuickBooks Online

There are many advantages to using QuickBooks Online as your financial platform. Here are just a few of the biggest pros to using QuickBooks Online:

  • Easy setup – QuickBooks Online has a simple setup process that can be completed in a matter of hours. You should spend plenty of time setting up the system so that it is optimized for your business. The process is straightforward, and plenty of resources are available to help you make the most of your setup.
  • Excellent user interface – One of the best parts of QuickBooks Online is its user interface. It makes using QuickBooks Online easier and more intuitive.
  • Powerful reporting tools – A good accounting solution should allow you to view your financial situation, as well as that of your customers. This can be especially important if you have a subscription-based business model. QuickBooks Online reporting tools allow you to view critical information quickly and easily, allowing you to make smart decisions quickly.
  • Data security – Unfortunately, data breaches are a real problem in today’s business world. QuickBooks Online provides plenty of security features to protect your data. This can help you sleep better, knowing your data is safe from malicious actors.
  • Affordability – QuickBooks Online is one of the more affordable options on the market. If you want to be able to use bookkeeping software that is not going to cause your finances to struggle, this is likely the best option for you.

Protea Financial Bookkeeper with QuickBooks Experience

The Cons of Bookkeeping in QuickBooks Online

Despite the advantages of QuickBooks Online, it isn’t the perfect solution for every business. There are drawbacks to using QuickBooks Online for bookkeeping. Here are a few of the cons to using QuickBooks Online:

  • It is not always the best for growing businesses – While QuickBooks Online is a great solution for small businesses, it may not be the best choice for growing ones. You may need to upgrade your accounting solution as your business grows and expands.
  • Data limitations – While QuickBooks Online has robust reporting, you cannot always use all of it. You cannot use certain features if you have customers governed by specific data laws.
  • Feature limitations – Some small businesses will find that QuickBooks Online lacks features. For example, if your business relies on eCommerce, some features that can help you track purchases may be missing.
  • It doesn’t integrate with everything – Not all software integrates with QuickBooks Online. Some services you may want to use won’t work well with QuickBooks Online, which can create issues for some small businesses.

 

Should You Use QuickBooks Online for Small Business Bookkeeping?

If you are still on the fence about whether QuickBooks Online is the right solution for your business, here are a few factors to consider. Accountants recommend that companies keep their books for at least seven years. If your business is new, it has no history to report, making a new software title a viable option.

If your business is growing, you may need a better solution than QuickBooks Online. If you are unsure if QuickBooks Online is right for your size business, consider reaching out to a bookkeeping specialist here at Protea Financial. Our experts can help you decide whether QuickBooks Online is the right solution for your business today and in the future.

Turning to an experienced bookkeeper can get guidance on reading the different reports and accessing the various financial reports QuickBooks Online offers. Should you decide to use the QuickBooks Online platform, you can either go through the process of setting it up yourself or turn to an outsourced bookkeeper with QuickBooks Online experience for help.

Protea Financial QuickBooks Online

Tips for Deciding if QuickBooks Online is Right for Your Small Business

Here are a few tips to help you decide if QuickBooks Online is the right solution for your business.

  1. Do your research – When you decide to use a new accounting solution, you put a lot of trust in that solution. You want to make sure you’re putting your trust in the right place. Make sure you do plenty of research before settling on QuickBooks Online.
  2. Ask questions – If you are in the process of deciding whether or not QuickBooks Online is the right solution for your business, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You can’t make an informed decision unless you have all the necessary information. Be sure to ask any question you may have to make sure you have all the information you need.
  3. Pick the best option – There are many variations in bookkeeping software, including QuickBooks Online. If you are unsure if the one you are looking at will fit, explore the possibilities. Look at each feature and add-on before deciding on any software title.

You can do a few things to ensure success if you choose to go with QuickBooks Online for your company’s bookkeeping needs.

  • Make sure the data you input is accurate. This can help you make intelligent financial decisions faster.
  • Make sure everyone who needs access to the system has access. This can help reduce the time spent managing the system and allow you to focus on more important things.
  • Make sure QuickBooks Online is integrated with as many services as possible. This will help reduce headaches and keep things running smoothly.

There are many valuable tools within QuickBooks Online. Make sure you take the time to explore it properly to get the most value for your money.

 

Let Protea Financial Help Your Small Business Succeed

Deciding on one specific software for your business can be a daunting task. Thankfully, you do not have to make the decision alone. Turn to the financial experts here at Protea Financial today. We can help guide you toward the best possible bookkeeping software for your business.

You can also turn to us as virtual bookkeepers so you can focus on your business while we track your financial information for you. Put our years of experience to the test. Contact Protea Financial today so you can get your business on the right track.

Protea Financial Can Help You Learn QuickBooks Online for Small Businesses

Here at Protea Financial, we understand that finding the right software solutions is not always easy. If you are considering QuickBooks Online for small businesses, then reach out. We can help!

Is Your Small Business Ready for the Recession?

Is Your Small Business Ready for the Recession?

Small businesses are often hit the hardest when the economy takes a downturn. With fewer customers spending less, many small businesses must cut back in order to stay afloat. In these times, it is more important than ever for small businesses to be as frugal as possible and have a plan for staying afloat during recessions.

Whether your business is just starting out or you’re looking to revamp your company before things get worse, our goal here at Protea Financial is to help you get ready for challenging times ahead. Get acquainted with some common risks that small businesses face during recessions, and learn strategies to safeguard yourself from potential pitfalls. Here are some practical tips on keeping your business safer through this period of instability.

 

What a Recession Can Do to a Small Business

A recession is a time when the economy slows down, and companies experience reduced sales, fewer customers, and higher costs. One of the most common effects of a recession is that it can harm small businesses, and this is because smaller companies may not be able to absorb the impact of reduced sales, so they may have to make significant cuts in their workforce.

If this happens, some employees may leave the company, which could lead to further reductions in staff numbers. Furthermore, if a small business goes through a period of financial difficulty, it may be tempted to take on more debt.

However, when the economy improves, this debt may make it harder for the company to repay its loans. Therefore, it could end up with even deeper problems than it started with.

Protea Financial Getting Ready for the Recession

Protect the Assets That Matter Most to Your Business

If you want your business to weather a recession, you have to be ready for one in advance by maintaining a tight ship. This means cutting discretionary spending so you have a healthy cash flow. You can cut out company-paid snacks, or put someone in charge of finding vendors that may offer better prices.

Carefully track your expenses so you know where your money goes and you can be sure you are not spending unnecessarily. Tracking your business expenses is often best left to your bookkeeper, as they can do it in less time and with more accuracy than you likely can.

Other options you have to protect your assets include:

  • Bolster your relationships with your customers. This can keep business coming in, and sometimes even attract new customers during this unpredictable time.
  • Get insurance policies that can help keep your business safer in the event of an unexpected event or emergency.
  • Place the money you save into a savings account so you have cash reserves should you need them.
  • Keep your company’s employees happy. It costs far more to bring in a new employee than it does to keep your current employees. Turnover is expensive, so make sure you offer options like competitive salaries and health benefits to keep employees with you during these tough times.
  • Protect your company on all fronts, including making sure you have cybersecurity protection in place, as well as proper backups. The expense of losing data is much higher than replacing an up-to-date backup.
  • Always maintain the highest reputation that you can. This allows you to build and maintain strong relationships with customers, who will typically keep buying from the companies they know and trust.

 

Save Where You Can

As you prepare your company for a recession, one of the best ways to stay afloat is to save where you can. This includes cutting unnecessary expenses and setting up automatic savings plans to save for the future.

Start by making a list of your business’s expenses and cutting any unnecessary ones that you can. Look for any areas where you can save, such as by reducing your energy use during business hours or by outsourcing some services if they are not absolutely necessary.

Another way to save money is to open up a savings account where you can store away money for a rainy day. You should also open up an emergency fund where you can store money to help pay for unexpected expenses such as repairs or to help meet payroll when cash flow is low.

 

Stay Flexible

A recession can often come out of nowhere, and it can be easy to be unprepared if you are not keeping an eye on the economy. As you prepare for a recession, you must keep an eye on any potential warning signs that one may be approaching. This includes monitoring major economic indicators and listening to what analysts and experts have to say about current events.

When a recession does hit, one of the most important things to do is to keep working. It’s easy for small businesses to get overwhelmed and paralyzed when a recession hits. By continuing to work, you can ride out the storm and be in a better position to emerge on the other side once the recession is over.

Protea Financial Is Your Business Ready for the Recession

Learn More About Your Finances to Protect Your Small Business

Every aspect of a small business is vulnerable to financial loss, especially during the uncertain times of a recession. Your cash flow, sales, inventory, and more can be affected by unexpected expenses, including the costs of an emergency. Understanding your business’s financial health allows you to protect your business from potential financial losses better.

You can use several tools and financial reports to assess your financial health and identify areas for improvement. Some examples include:

  • A cash flow forecast that shows expected incoming and outgoing cash flows over time.
  • An income statement that shows revenue and expenses over time.
  • A balance sheet that shows assets, liabilities, and owner equity in a single snapshot.
  • A profit and loss statement that shows income and expenses over time.

Watch Your Cash Flow

If your business is tied to the economy’s health, you’ll want to keep an eye on your cash flow. When the economy takes a downturn, customer spending decreases, and you can expect less revenue to come into your business as a result.

It’s important to keep a close eye on your cash flow during these times and make sure you have enough cash on hand to get you through any rough patches. This includes having enough in your savings account to cover payroll and other expenses. It’s also a good idea to have a line of credit or business credit card available in case of emergencies, like sudden drops in revenue.

One important thing to keep in mind is that your customers’ payment timelines may also change during recessions. Credit card companies often extend payment deadlines and give users more time to pay their bills. Your customers may also be more likely to pay in cash during tough times, so you should factor these changes into your business’s cash flow projections.

 

Protea Financial Can Help You Learn Ways to Get Ready for the Recession

A recession can be a trying time for many small businesses. Make sure you are ready for one by keeping a close eye on your expenses, protecting your cash flow, and saving money whenever possible.

Stay focused and keep working during tough times; your business will be better positioned to emerge stronger once the recession ends. For help learning about how you can improve the health of your business or understand where your business stands, contact Protea Financial today!

Get Ready for the Recession with Protea Financial As Your Guide

Getting ready for the recession is a must for small businesses that want to survive. Let us help guide you. Contact us now and let us help!

Protea Conversations: Saja Raoof

Protea Conversations: Saja Raoof

Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high-quality outsourced accounting at an affordable price.  Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the workforce after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were previously overlooked.  Protea strives to represent people from all backgrounds and provide an environment for them to grow and succeed in a setting that provides the flexibility and acceptance of who they are as people.

We selected the name Protea because is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of this striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.

Protea Conversations in 2022 will focus on positive transformation and representation from all backgrounds. We are broadening our Conversations with the hope that these conversations will continue to create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges leaders face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.

In August 2022 we spend time with Saja Raoof.

Saja is the proud daughter of an “Alien of Extraordinary Ability,” a visa classification which recognized her dad Dr. Ameed Raoof’s distinguished career in Medical Education. Her family background is part of the reason she chose to devote her career to serving talented foreign nationals interested in pursuing the American dream through employment-based visas.

As a Business Immigration Attorney, Saja helps companies and foreign-born nationals navigate the increasingly complex field of Immigration Law. Having focused on business immigration since 2006, Saja’s clients have included engineering companies, architecture firms, startups, overseas companies and nonprofits and their talented foreign-born employees.

Her immigration career started with an internship at the National Immigration Project in Boston during first year of law school. She also advocated for immigrants’ civil rights during my internship at the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

Saja’s family is from Iraq, home to the first code of law in history. Before moving to the US she grew up in Scotland and Saudi Arabia. When not working you’ll find Saja kayaking, embroidering, or traveling internationally.

Protea Financial Immigration Law

Tell us a little more about your decision to start a career in immigration law and your journey to running your own practice?

As the eldest of four children my dad tasked me with helping him put our immigration application together when I was about 14 years old. My involvement in that process at a young age made a strong impression on me. I’d gone with law school with the goal of defending human rights. Immigration was a natural venue to fulfill that dream. I set up my own practice in 2012 and it’s been a terrific experience over the past decade. Having been through the immigration journey I can put myself in my clients’ shoes and share a personal understanding of what’s at stake.  

What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?

The limited venues for immigrants and the sometimes heavy-handed application and interpretation of immigration law. It’s frustrating to see politics decide whether companies can grow and foreign-born nationals can pursue their dreams. For example, only 65,000 H-1B visas are granted each year plus 20,000 reserved for foreign-born nationals who have a U.S. Master’s. The number filed every year competing for those visas is sometimes three times the number of visas available, so U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services runs a lottery. Companies should be able to file an H-1B based on need, not luck.

What are your short-term goals of your career and yourself?

I’m working with Mike Doherty (Understanding eCommerce) on updating my marketing. I’m also working on becoming an engaging public speaker.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?

It’s hard to narrow it down to a single piece of advice. The first advice that comes to mind is my business coach Alay Yajnik’s “time is life and life is time.” That line is just a starting point. Alay’s time management system is gold.

What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out?

Delegate. Because we want everything to be perfect, we sometimes prefer to do a given task ourselves rather than explain and entrust it to somebody else. But learning how to effectively delegate and free up one’s time for other things, is priceless.

What advice you give to others to help them be better leaders?

Since early in my career I’ve kept record of notes from my conversations with the lawyers and professionals I’ve admired the most. Out of every 10 people you ask for guidance, maybe only one will respond. But that person’s advice could do wonders for your career. It’s not always comfortable approaching leaders to seek advice but it’s worth it.

Protea Financial Saja Raoof Embroidery

Can you share something interesting about yourself that will provide insight into who you are outside of the professional space?

When my husband and I moved from Michigan to California in 2014 we didn’t know many people here, so I needed a new hobby. My choices came down to either pottery or embroidery. As an introvert I went with the hobby that doesn’t require going to a studio and talking to people. I started out embroidering flowers and birds. And I later realized it could be a meaningful way to connect to people. I embroider personalized gifts for friends and colleagues on their special occasions (weddings, religious occasions, death of loved ones). An embroidered piece makes for a memorable gift and it feels good to create long-lasting beauty.

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As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will donate to Positive Images (https://www.posimages.org/). Positive Images is a grassroots nonprofit organization serving Sonoma County since 1990. Their LGBTQIA+ Community Center hosts multiple weekly support groups, a youth leadership development program, mentorship opportunities, an LGBTQIA+ Library, resource and referral station, and a Transformation Station. They proudly offer a warm, welcoming, and affirming environment for young people to explore their individual identities, develop leadership skills, and contribute to our collective community. Positive Images staff lead LGBTQIA+ Cultural Competency Trainings and presentations that educate the greater community focusing on human connection, compassion, and inclusion. Their goal is a community where all LGBTQIA+ people are valued, compassionate community members, creating a just society.

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