Harrington Group Blog

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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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Whether you’re in the accounting world or just need to get them done, we have a few tips to help get you through (we’re almost there!).

1. Time Management. Set deadlines and block out your schedule ahead of time. Don’t let Tax Day sneak up on you! For many people getting taxes done is more about simply carving out the time to do so, and that can be the most stressful part. For CPAs it's often more about letting your loved ones know that this is a busy season for you, and you need space in your schedule and support to get through it.

2. Eat, hydrate, and breathe. For CPAs this is about long hours and supporting stressed clients. For everyone else this is about not having a meltdown and making things easier on your CPA.

3. Be Organized. For many of us this is something we try to practice everyday, and if we’re successful in doing so it makes tax season SO MUCH easier. But if file organization has gotten away from you take the time to sort through everything before your tax appointment. It will make a world of difference in stress and timing for all parties involved.

4. Know what is needed from each other. CPAs should have a list of things that their clients need to have prepared and with them when they arrive to their appointments. Clients should be aware and on top of these items.

5. Have a de-stressor scheduled! After your appointment or season have a little (or big) reward waiting for you. Maybe it’s happy hour, or maybe it’s Hawaii…just do something to celebrate the fact that you made it through Tax Season!
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Harrington Group was recently honored to be a part of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services conference in Monterey. Supporting organizations such as this is one of the most gratifying parts of being a non-profit CPA firm and we were beyond thrilled with the turn out for such a wonderful cause!

The California Alliance is a collaborative organization that brings together some of the leading child and family services agencies in the state, giving them a platform to stand on and voice that can be heard. They leverage services from fostering and adoption to family preservation and support, plus a myriad of programs, assistance and treatments for all youths and family members.

From their website: “The California Alliance of Child and Family Services is the unifying force in the charge to lead change and provide support for the state’s children, youth and families.
For those dedicated to improving the lives of these at-risk populations, the California Alliance stands apart as the champion and leading voice for organizations that advocate for children and families, and for advancing policy and services on their behalves.”

At Harrington Group we believe deeply in these values and are extremely proud to have been a part of the important conversations had at the 2018 Executive’s Winter Conference!

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It’s that time of year, friends. The time that brings stress and confusion to so many people – it gets put it off, it’s intimidating, and more often than not it doesn’t yield the results we want.

Tax Season.

We want to make the whole experience less painful. As CPAs we know that a little preparation goes a long way and can really revolutionize your tax experience. Even if you’ve put off prepping all year, this list will help streamline your process and hopefully make this your most painless tax year yet!

First things first: Get your documents in order.

Whether you’re an individual or a business you need certain documents ready to go when it comes time to file and you need to familiarize yourself with those specific to your situation. Make sure your bank statements are printed and highlighted, same with your credit card statements, both business and personal. Additionally, have last year’s tax return on hand and any pertinent business accounting forms (and payroll documents, if applicable).

Next: Acquire your necessary tax documents.

Learn which forms you need to file. Forms are specific to individuals and certain kinds of businesses; make sure you know exactly which applies to you.

Organize your deductions.

Have all your receipts in order. Your statements are highlighted accordingly with expenses and deductions. Make one neat little pile to either go through or hand over to your accountant.

When in doubt…

If you’re not sure whether or not you will need a record or document just play it safe and keep it until you can verify with a professional. The bottom line is it’s always better to have something that might not be important than not have an item that ends up being essential.

Don’t let tax season get you down! You’ve got this, and your CPAs have got your back.
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