Did you remember to pay last quarter’s estimated income taxes? Are you sure? This question has probably gone through your mind at least once in your entrepreneurial career. With all the responsibilities you have to keep your business afloat, sometimes even the most obvious duties slip through the cracks.
Thankfully, the answer lies in the palm of your hand. As an avid iPhone user myself, I extract great value from the native “Reminders” feature (sorry, Android users, although I’m sure a similar feature exists on your phones).
So, here are eight recurring reminders that every entrepreneur should set up today.
1. Pay Uncle Sam.
Few things are more important than paying your taxes. Doing so is not only your patriotic duty, but it also helps you avoid any unnecessary correspondence with the IRS. As an entrepreneur, you have the unique responsibility to send quarterly estimated payments to the U.S. Treasury and your state agency. If you own a business that collects sales tax, you may also be required to make estimated sales tax payments. With all these moving parts, remembering to make estimated tax payments can be challenging. Check out the IRS’ “Estimated Taxes” webpage to identify which dates are most appropriate for recurring iPhone reminders.
2. Invoice your clients.
Cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. Whether you’re a consultant or a software company, you likely deal with dozens of different billing arrangements. Some clients prefer to be billed monthly, while others pay on a bi-weekly basis. Some clients may even prefer to pre-pay on a quarterly basis. If you forget to send even one invoice, cash flow will be negatively impacted and may cause you to miss your forecast. So, enable those reminders that fit the needs of your clients -- and your bottom line.
3. Update QuickBooks.
Not every small business has a dedicated in-house bookkeeper. In fact, many entrepreneurs fill this role (among others). Unfortunately, updating QuickBooks can easily fall to the bottom of any to-do list. Personally, I like to update my books monthly, so my iPhone reminds me to do that on the first weekday of each month.
4. Learn something new.
When was the last time you sat down with the intention of learning something new? Has it been a while? Maintaining a monthly reminder for continuous education has greatly benefited my own business. Without it, I would probably just work all the time. By investing time to learn new things, I stay marketable and on top of my game. Once a month is a good start, but learning something new weekly would probably be better.
5. Engage on social media.
Social media is what you make of it. It can be an opportunity to connect with new colleagues and prospective customers. However, it can also be a distraction if you’re not careful. Set a reminder for yourself to spend 30 minutes each week engaging "with intention." If your goal is to position yourself as a thought leader, spend time commenting on relevant group discussions. If you aim to connect with new people, develop a set of desired outcomes and measure your actual results. If you’re the type of entrepreneur who just enjoys being “social,” I would guess that this reminder will work for you, too.
6. Close out your books for the year.
Just because you have a CPA who “does” your taxes doesn’t mean that your work is done. To ensure that your returns are prepared properly, it is important that you validate your incoming 1099s, gather accurate data for outgoing 1099s and 1096s and of course balance your year-end income statement and balance sheet. In addition to providing your CPA with accurate books, you will also want to make note of any deductible expenses not accounted for on your P&L. For example, if like me, you work from home, you’ll want to provide your accountant an estimated number of hours worked. On January 15 each year, my iPhone reminds me to start getting everything together.
7. Clean your office.
There’s nothing like a fresh, clean office on a Monday morning. On the other hand, bagel crumbs and stacks of papers can add unnecessary anxiety to an already stressful day. I like to be reminded on Sunday afternoon to clean my home office. The kids are usually watching a cartoon, so I can slip away for 20 minutes to dust, vacuum the floor and polish my desk. Cleaning tip: The scent of pine can be quite motivating.
8. Back up your computer.
In the age of automatic cloud backup, you may already have this one covered. I must admit that a considerable number of my files are created in Google Drive, and therefore are automatically backed up. However, you may still have files stored locally on your machine(s). I prefer to keep highly confidential information on local drives and then back them up manually to other local disks (yes, I know I’m a little paranoid). I typically do this weekly, as I don’t have enough changes to warrant a daily backup. Plus, my MacBook takes about 30 minutes to fully back up these days, so weekly seems to work for me.
Face it: Your brain is already overloaded with too many responsibilities. By leveraging the power of recurring iPhone reminders, you can share some of the burden with Siri (or any other artificial life form). Just don’t forget to charge your phone.