I have never taken a business class. Not even in high school. And now, essentially, I co-own and co-manage a business with my husband.
Over the past 3 years, I’ve had to learn a LOT. Mostly, managing a farm is a lot like managing a household, except with bigger numbers. Taking the Annie’s Project classes last summer helped a LOT, especially figuring out where we stand financially with our asset to debt ratio, a balance sheet, and cash flows. Those things are nice to know for your household, but vital for a farm or other small business.
But the biggest thing I’ve learned is how to do the payroll for our employees.
We only have one regular employee, Beth the Brooder Lady, who averages 10 hours per week. But when we unload our poults or move turkeys we have to hire a few people to help. And in the summer, my brother did some mowing and other work for us.
Although we don’t hire a lot of help, it’s enough that we have to do the whole payroll taxes thing-a-ma-jig. We looked into having an accountant do it for us, but it was something like $90 a quarter to file the taxes and $30 every time we wanted to cut checks. That seemed a bit steep for the small amount of work it would be for us.
So my mom and I got to work. She has some background in accounting, although it’s been a few *cough* years. We worked with an accountant to get everything started – all the Federal and State ID numbers we needed. Then, we visited a very close family friend and farm wife, Barb, who has done their farm’s payroll (for several employees) for years. She helped me set up an Excel spreadsheet with some formulas that make it really pretty easy.
When we write a check for our employees, I just plug in their total hours and hourly wage, and it pretty much gets figured out for me. That part has been really easy. I <3 Excel.
Then, every quarter, I have to add a bunch of numbers and pay the government. This part makes me a little nervous, but it’s getting easier and easier.
Now, I have to issue W-2s. Although we don’t hire a lot of help, there have been 9 different people throughout the year (some of them only worked for us once, though.) And the whole W-2 thing is making me crazy. Literally. I tried to register for the W-2s online, got partway through it, and literally started to have an anxiety attack.
So I waited a few days and tried again. And it didn’t work. And the end of the month is coming.
Like most (every) other aspect of farming, this has all been brand new to me. Should have taken a business course or something, I guess!