Harrington Group Blog

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It’s here. That time of year that makes everyone’s head spin, no matter how prepared you (or your clients) are. For those of you getting ready to file and feeling like you’re swimming in documents we are here to offer some simple words of encouragement that might just ease the pain.

1. Put on some good music. Never underestimate the mood lift that some excellent tunes can provide! Motivation, energy, and genuine happiness, all of which will come in very handy while tax prepping.
2. Get Organized. Make piles for all your paper documents, separating them by category. Keep them separated by dividers and clearly labeled. For your digital documents make individual folders on your desktop, clearly labeled, and then add all folders into one for easy access and an uncluttered screen.
3. Go digital. If it’s at all possible, have all your necessary documents digitalized and in one folder on your desktop. So much easier for everyone involved, and far less of a chance that something will go missing.
4. Keep all your files in the same system. It will be so much less stressful and time consuming in years to come if you stick to one simple, effective means of organization. Have everything labeled clearly and concisely, and all as close to in one place as possible.
5. Reward yourself. When the prep is done give yourself a little treat, and plan that treat ahead of time to add a little punch to your motivation!

Now, get prepping and get your filing on!
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'Tis the season to celebrate the people who work hard in your life!

At Harrington Group our company holiday party is looked forward to all year, we love giving thanks to our incredible team and getting the opportunity to be all together in a purely celebratory capacity. There are always games with prizes and a few shenanigans that we'll all be talking about through the new year (there was a pretty epic musical chairs battle for the prize of one extra personal day last year) and lots of laughter!

Today we raise our glasses to our amazing HG family, both in Northern and Southern California, to all the partners, and, of course, to Joe Harrington. Take a look at HG through the years in this sweet slideshow, and remember to thank the people in your life who work hard every day! Cheers.
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It’s easy to get swept up in the flurry of Thanksgiving into Black Friday all the way through Cyber Monday…the weekend has become one of the most highly anticipated shopping and spending dates of the year. We focus on getting the best deals possible, scouting sales and clipping coupons, setting alarms to make sure you’re one of the first to snag whatever is on your wish list. It’s nice then, after the mad rush for bargains and stockpile of boxes and bags your living room has just accumulated, to have a reason to take a breath and focus your attention on something just a little more seasonally appropriate: enter Giving Tuesday.

As a non-profit accounting firm we like to think of Giving Tuesday as a solid jumping off point – the shot that starts the race but then you keep running with all the good things you can be doing to help the organizations around you give back to those in need. We’re sharing some inspiration here so you can see just how easy it is to make a difference in someone’s holiday this year.

1. Donate your things to shelters. Rather than taking items straight to Goodwill or Salvation Army give your local shelters a call and find out what they’re in need of. Bonus points if you also ask about volunteer opportunities coming up in the near future, we guarantee there are plenty and it will only take up a fraction of your time to lend a hand!

2. If you’re feeling like going a little farther than dropping off things you no longer need you can do some googling to find out what you can purchase and send off to organizations helping families who lost their homes in the California Wildfires – relief efforts are still going strong and there are so many people and animals who could use our help. Bonus points if you also peek at how you can give back to the first responders who helped save so many lives and are still working hard!

3. Speaking of animals, humane societies and rescue organizations can always use some extra hands or funding to help keep pets healthy and find their forever homes – this is especially important this year because so many have been displaced from the fires.

4. Schools and hospitals in your area need your help. There are a number of national organizations running campaigns that you can give to (and it’s truly AMAZING if you do!) but a quick google search of your neighborhood will tell you which local schools and facilities are in need of a little assistance. No donation is too small!

Now, just to make this even easier (and provide a little more inspiration) we’re linking the Giving Tuesday website for you to see which national, global, and local organizations are looking for YOUR help! Click here to check it out.

And remember, today is just the jumping off point. Nonprofits need our help year round – but a little extra during the holidays.

Happy giving, everyone!
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As the year progresses we all go through personal seasons. However, there’s no denying that we’re affected by the change of weather and ever-looming holidays/new year.

Autumn starts the countdown to the holiday season. It’s a pivotal time for everyone, some people get senioritis looking forward to the holidays and possible vacations, some get stressed at the thought or the sudden realization that the end of the year is rapidly heading toward us. At any rate, there is always a shift in energy and it’s prudent for business leaders to stay ahead of it.

1. Call a meeting to re-focus attention. Let’s be obvious about it, you can come right out and say “we’re here to stay on track,” and it never hurts to check in with everyone to see what peoples’ headspaces are like. Make it a little bit fun with coffee and pastries or a catered lunch, giving everyone a boost while you go over current projects and upcoming goals.

2. Create an incentive program for the autumn months all the way through the end of the year. There are lots of ways to get people to work hard, but giving them a sizeable prize to compete and put in extra effort for is by far one of the most effective. Make sure you’re able to make the incentive that’s worth the work!

3. Give praise and thanks. Remind your team that they are valuable and doing a good job, the benefit of praise is completely underrated. Remember to compliment hard work and reward goals that have been met, it boosts morale beyond belief!

4. Keep up the team bonding. From little things like bi-weekly office happy hour to team outings to workshops or conferences, it’s important to keep your crew working together seamlessly and amicably. Keep up the activities that promote working together and also having a good time!

5. Embrace the new seasons. Throw some decorations up, bring in seasonal coffee flavors or treats, keep a calendar of local events that might be fun for people to know about. It’s easier to just go with the flow and frankly, it’s a lot more fun for everyone. Not saying you have to turn the office into a haunted house or winter wonderland, just don’t resist what everyone is itching to embrace.
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It’s inevitable, with time comes change. Most of those changes are brought to us by technology, the ever-growing-and-morphing platform for bigger-and-better things. As CPAs, even in the nonprofit world, we’re not immune to these advancements – in fact, we’re in the thick of it!

From systems to keep our records to communication strategies with both our teams and our clients, there is always something new and groundbreaking on the horizon. We post about new updates frequently on our Facebook, but here are a few additional ways you can ensure that your firm isn’t getting left in the dust:

• Read the blogs! There are countless blogs and sites devoted to accounting all over the place that are constantly reporting on the latest trends and software, even predictions for what’s to come. Keep you finger on the pulse by bookmarking a few and setting aside some time to peruse them every week.

• Sign up for seminars. Not only is this a good way to get some in-depth, possibly hands-on information about up and coming systems, but you can make a team building exercise out of it by including your crew to come along and learn! Search for local workshops in your area once or twice a season.

• Make sure your clients are being kept up to date as well. It will behoove both parties to have clients using the same, newer technology that your firm is using, and they will be grateful for the knowledge. Go above and beyond by setting up a meeting to go over new systems with them in person so you can answer questions and show step-by-step tutorials to get them started.

• Keep an eye on what other firms are doing. Nothing shady going on here, just keep an ear to the ground involving the tech and systems that others in your area are employing – this way when a new client goes shopping around you’re not left at a disadvantage for being behind the times.

• Lastly, make sure a new system or piece of tech is worth the effort of learning before your throw your whole team into practicing it. Much of what we’re seeing come into play is going to be the way of the future, but there are always bits and pieces that fall to the ground after a while because they’re just not prudent; don’t waste your time and energy if it will be obsolete in a month or two!

For a peek into the latest feel free to peruse our Facebook page or consult your old friend Google!
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If you know us, you know we’re all about TEAM BUILDING.

Our most recent excursion was so fun, each office (the north and south) painted a jigsaw canvas to hang in their respective office kitchens.

This is a fantastic activity to have team members do together, it requires everyone to get on the same page and plan ahead so that the squares will fit together, but still let lets them have fun and be creative as individuals. Isn’t that exactly what you want in the workplace?!

Even the partners took part in the painting. Art is a cool and sometimes hilarious way to break down walls and integrate, because skill levels vary and everyone has to go into the project with a sense of camaraderie (and humor).

In the end both teams were happy with their results. We chose a message that speaks to pretty much everyone and feels very appropriate for a morning office kitchen visit…

How do you and your staff members build up your office?
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Do you have a motto? Words that define who you are and how you live your life?

As a business it’s important to establish a brand personality that shows your clients who you are and exactly what you stand for. A company hired to do an important job has a responsibility to express and then follow through with a specific set of standards, and your clients should always know and feel those values throughout the partnership.

At Harrington Group we don’t necessarily have a motto or a company saying, but when Joe Harrington began our firm over 15 years ago he built everything upon the foundation of three basic principles:

Experience. Service. Respect.

To each partner who has come aboard he has taught these words. Every individual who has joined the team in Northern or Southern California has learned the importance of upholding the values Harrington Group has evolved from. And everyone who will come through our doors in the future will know them as well.

It’s important to know your business. It’s important to have something to stand for, to stand with. It’s important to have a platform to stand on before you even start your day.

How do you define your business?
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You may see us around town, or here and there on the internet. Some of you know us well, but many of you see our blue, green, and red bars, experiencing a flicker of recognition without really knowing who we are or what it is that we do.

Please allow us to introduce ourselves.

Take a moment to get to know Harrington Group and the work that we are proud and honored to do, and we would love to know a little something about you too!

Watch our short video by clicking here.
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With tax season behind us it’s time to take a long, honest look at the state of your office. The whirlwind of taxes often leaves us feeling a bit like we’ve just somehow managed to keep our feet on the ground through a tornado, and the repercussions of the storm are teetering stacks of paper, receipts spread over multiple surfaces, and multiple coffee cups strewn about your desk. Gather up the mugs, put them in the sink, and then roll up your sleeves; it’s time to spring clean your finances.

Clear out your documents. We all have the filing cabinet (or cardboard box) that has gotten fat and unkempt over the last year. Go through the papers and statements to see what can go and what needs to stay for your records. Anything that can go should be shredded immediately, for your protection and so it doesn’t simply start another pile of documents in your office. Get rid of ‘em.

Clear out your electronic documents. The same process applies to your email and desktop folders; we live in an age of digital files and they take up room on your hard drive and in your brain. If you no longer need to save them drag them into the trash and empty the bin. Additionally, make sure you’re not keeping any papers or statements that you have duplicates of e-filed on your computer!

Check for any paper statements/documents you’re getting that you can switch to electronic. This way you can begin to minimize future physical clutter and disarray in your office. Make the switch right away.

If you’re feeling really motivated you can scan the documents that you need to keep onto your computer and eliminate that bulky clutter all together!

Back. It. Up. No matter how many or few files you have on your computer, make sure they’re backed up and secured on an external hard drive, Google drive, Dropbox, or other systems. Especially take care to do this if you end up converting all of your files to electronic files!
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In California we don’t take the brunt of winter like other states, but there’s still a certain something that happens when spring rolls around. The smell of cut grass in the air, the breeze getting warmer, the days getting longer…we can’t explain it, but it feels like a new beginning all around.

In the spirit of springtime we’ve put together a little list (you know how we love lists) of things to start focusing on with the change of the seasons.

1. Get Organized. Spring cleaning covers a lot of bases and one way to shake the winter brain-fog is to take a solid look around you and purge the things that no longer serve you and re-evaluate your daily routines and workspace.
2. Do Your Taxes. Done ‘em already? Excellent. Cross it off your (very organized) list. Haven’t done ‘em? Make your appointment, mark your calendar.
3. Don’t overspend on a spring wardrobe. It’s tempting to get excited about a new season and the opportunity to buy new clothes but we guarantee there are surprises in the back of your closet that will be just as satisfying to revisit in lieu of spending an inordinate amount of money on new clothes. Anything you won’t wear again is up for donation and you can swap it out for something new!
4. Start budgeting for summer travel. Summer is just on the horizon and that means travel plans need to be made. Set your flight alerts to search for the most affordable airfare, start researching the price of air bnb’s vs. hotels and resorts…planning ahead = saving money!
5. Get outside. No matter where you live THIS is the time of year to take advantage of the great outdoors. Hike, picnic, road trip, or just walk; there is no amount of nature that is too little or too great! Get outside and breathe deeply.
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