By Maddie Jostol
We talk a lot about making your brokerage more profitable, but it would be silly if we didn’t touch on the role that agent finances make on a brokerages’ success. How? Let’s quickly break it down: you know you need to retain more agents, agents are always searching for higher commissions, and many agents often struggle to run their business efficiently. Yes, the more smoothly an agent operates their business, the more money they make, and the happier they’ll be, resulting in them wanting to stay at and promote your brokerage. Sound complicated? Don’t worry, it’s not.
Here’s the bottom line: offer resources and recommendations that will help your agents run their business more effectively and it will pay off. The beauty of this is that it often takes very little (if any) time or funding from your brokerage. This can come in many different forms, such as specialized training, sphere selling education, marketing tools and resources, or assistance with tax filing.
Take accounting, for example (an area that many real estate agents struggle with). Too often, we hear the stories of the shoebox full of receipts or unorganized spreadsheets tracking expenses. The truth is, these practices result in a huge loss when it comes time to file taxes. All of the potential tax deductions that could’ve saved some serious cash are, instead, a blow to the wallet.
For a real estate agent, this is a big deal. It’s vital that they have a profitable, sustainable business in order to stick with the brokerage they know and love. When we came across QuickBooks Self-Employed, we instantly knew it was the perfect solution to these pain points. It’s an inexpensive, easy-to-use, reliable accounting solution built for independent contractors that saves agents time and money ($4,340/year on average, to be exact).
It made us wonder: why aren’t more brokerages recommending solutions like this to their agents? It costs the brokerage nothing to make these resources known, yet they often aren’t offering support outside of the standard.
Sure, educating your agents about tools like QuickBooks Self-Employed might not seem to benefit your business at the surface level, but remember that successful agents make successful brokerages. QuickBooks Self-Employed makes agents more efficient and helps them retain more of the money they make. Remember what we said about happy, money-making agents effecting your bottom line?
Provide your agents with what they need to be successful and you’ll find your brokerage more successful in turn.
Interested in learning more about QuickBooks Self-Employed? Agents can get QuickBooks Self-Employed for just $5/month. Take advantage of our exclusive discount here.
By Maddie Jostol
2018 is your year to not only reach, but to exceed your business goals. If you either a) didn’t set goals for 2018, or b) have already lost track of them, making you think that maybe you didn’t go about goal-setting in the best way, then this guide is for you. Goal-setting gives you direction. It ensures all of the work you’re doing serves a purpose. There is no one thing that you are doing to make your business reach its goals. There is no silver bullet for real estate agents. In reality, it’s an accumulation of things, which is why having goals in place is so important. It means all of those little things can map to something bigger and add up to success.
Make that money.
At the end of the day, you’re working to make money. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for how much a real estate agent (or anyone, for that matter) should make. Think about how much you need to make in order for this year’s work to be worth it. What is your time worth? How much time and effort are you planning to give? What pieces of your life do you need to fund and how much will you need to make in order to do that?
Once you take those questions into consideration, begin to form your financial goal for the year. Next, calculate your GCI (Gross Commissionable Income) goal. This is important as it’s directly relatable to the day-to-day progress you’re making. Each time you complete a transaction, you can see exactly where you are on your path towards your annual goal. If you’re a Moxi Engage user, be sure to input your GCI goal in your Moxi account. This way, you can easily see your goal reflected on your Moxi dashboard, as well as the progress you’re making towards it.
It’s really important to make your goals realistic and achievable. Of course, we encourage you to stretch yourself and reach for the stars, but make sure your goals are within reach. The last thing you want is to get discouraged and leave your goals behind altogether.
We’re all too familiar with the new year’s resolutions that fizzle out after a month or two. We’re hitting that point in the year when the gym is quieting down drastically after being packed for the last few months. Why? Because without a plan, it’s inherently difficult to follow through on your goals.
When goal-setting, consider the steps you’ll need to take to reach said goals. Write them down – even if it’s a rough list. This will not only help you gauge whether or not the goals you’re setting are realistic, but it will give you direction and get you on the right track as you set out to reach those goals.
Get your ducks in a row.
When your business runs smoothly, you’re better prepared to reach your goals. Part of goal setting should be getting the right systems in place for you to surpass those goals. As an agent, you are running your own business, which means accounting and tax filing take up time you could be using to close more deals. As independent contractors, most agents struggle with proper accounting since keeping your business finances sorted is such a pain. When it comes time to file taxes, you’re left sifting through a box of crumpled receipts and losing out on deductions because you didn’t have time to record and categorize everything.
QuickBooks Self-Employed helps independent contractors keep track of their finances all year, saving time and stress. When it comes time to file taxes, all of your expenses are auto-categorized to match your Schedule C and the average user saves $4,340 on taxes. With a snapshot of your business income vs. expenses, available on your app in real time, you always have a view of how your business is performing to ensure your goals are on track. Get a reliable system in place now! We’re offering 50% off your first year – check it out here.
By Tiana Baur
It’s the first quarter of 2018, which means it’s time to #GetShitDone (did you know that’s MoxiWorks’ company motto?!). Right here and now is the time to check off all the items that will soar you into your most successful and self-fulfilling year yet. And let’s face it, the one thing on everyone’s mind in Q1, is getting listings lined up to sell in Q2. Everyone is working as diligently and quickly as humanly possible but working hard and working smart can be two very different things. Because of that, we’ve put together a list of the five steps you need to take that will pay more dividends this year than anything else.
One: Do something that makes you feel good about yourself at least once a week
Maybe it’s standing in front of the mirror each morning and giving yourself a pep talk. Maybe it’s getting your nails done to look more polished in front of your clients. Maybe it’s taking language lessons to broaden your prospect scope. Little things can make a world of difference and it’s important you feel good about yourself, because you are your business. Mental health is incredibly important, don’t let yourself slip to the bottom of the priority list.
Two: Know who you are targeting with Moxi Insights
If you don’t know who you’re targeting, you’re basically taking shots in the dark. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was some magic tool out there that could tell you who would be likely to list soon? Well, there is! If you haven’t heard, we have a new tool called Moxi Insights that is part of our Moxi Marketing suite. It aggregates public data for your entire sphere and auto-updates it for you too. There are even badges that identify those in your sphere that are likely to list and the reasons why they are likely to list.
Check it out – you won’t regret it.
Three: Prepare for those pesky taxes with QuickBooks
The worst part about tax season is being a 1099 independent contractor. It makes everything ten times more complicated. Finding all the receipts from the entire year and trying to ballpark your mileage is enough to drive someone mad. And even then, it’s easy to forget all the other stuff you can deduct, so by the end of it, after pure exhaustion and frustration, you throw your hands up and say, “whatever.” Well, it’s time to take the stress out of your taxes!!! QuickBooks Self-Employed was created just for independent contractors like real estate agents. It simplifies everything and does most of the heavy lifting, PLUS it saves people an average of $4,340 on their taxes. What’s not to love? More on QuickBooks Self-Employed and try it for cheap here.
Four: Try something new
Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you’re not happy with your current results and the shape your business is in, it’s time to try something new. It can be scary and nerve-racking to take the first step, you’ll hit roadblocks and some things will go smoothly while others won’t. Whether it’s as simple as trying a new marketing method or hosting your first party, it’ll be worth it!
Five: Get as many eyes on your listing as possible with Advertise Your Listing
It’s a digital age and if you’re not advertising on Facebook, are you really getting the most optimal reach for your listing? The answer is no. But I do realize not everyone is a Facebook pro and not everyone has the time to create and analyze their Facebook Ads, let alone have enough time to even eat lunch. That’s why we created Advertise Your Listing. It’s all the Facebook goods and glory you need to show your clients (including automagically sent client reports *cough cough*) that you’re a marketing genius and you deserve their repeat business. Also, it only takes you five minutes to set up, and we do all the heavy lifting.
Find out more about Advertise Your Listing here.
If you do these five steps, we promise you your success will be much greater than if you hadn’t. Whether you do these because your resolutions are calling your name or you’re always looking for ways to grow, these will make you more productive and increase your repeat and referral business. Regardless of the reason, it’s a #GetShitDone kind of attitude that lights the fire within and turns the mediocre into real estate legends. What are you doing today to help yourself tomorrow?
By Maddie Jostol
As an independent contractor, you’re running your own business – and you experience all of the perks and challenges that come with that. Tax season isn’t fun for anyone, but it’s particularly frustrating as a 1099 independent contractor.
We all experience the same thing year over year. Tax season arrives, and it’s all you can do to pull everything together to file, let alone do it in a way that will save you money. You work through the endless forms, attempting to find all of the information you need. You get to the part where you need to fill in your Schedule C deductions… and… nothing. Another year went by and you don’t have the necessary documentation to deduct most of your business expenses. “Oh well” you think to yourself, “it’s not worth the time anyway.”
Here’s the deal: real estate agents are losing serious cash by neglecting to take advantage of available deductions.
The truth is, it’s incredibly time consuming to track your expenses, mileage, and deductions all year-round. And guess what? It isn’t as difficult as it sounds if you start early in the year. Below are a few things you can do to help yourself survive tax season as an independent contractor.
1. Know what deductions you should be looking out for.
The first step is knowing what deductions are available to you – and there are more than you might think. Things like your home office or software subscriptions are deductible expenses that you shouldn’t let slip through the cracks. Know what you should be looking out for, so you can get a system in place to track them year-round.
For a comprehensive list of deductions and information about each, click here to download our Guide to Stress-Free Taxes for Agents.
2. Track your expenses as they happen.
Receipts are every independent contractor’s worst enemy. Paper or digital, they’re a pain to keep track of and they’re difficult to organize when it comes time to file those taxes.
Consider a simple personal accounting system like QuickBooks Self-Employed. This app lets you snap a pic of a receipt from directly within the app and it automatically categorizes and stores that receipt. It then matches the receipt with the expense when it comes through as a bank charge. When it comes time to file, all of those business expenses have been tracked, categorized for your Schedule C, and documented appropriately. You can officially say goodbye to that mismanaged shoebox of receipts.
Mileage tracking is one you definitely won’t want to miss. You’re always on the go. Some days it feels like you live in your car – you’re running errands before an open house, picking up signage, meeting with clients, and having coffee with prospective clients.
When you have the QuickBooks Self-Employed app, it tracks your mileage every time you get in your car (seriously!). You can then go into your app, view your recent trips, and swipe left or swipe right to designate those trips as business or personal. Yes, it can be that easy (we didn’t believe it until we tried it either). Easier than a dating app, even.
3. Don’t do it alone.
Get a reliable system in place. As much as we’d like to do it all ourselves, the reality is it takes time and energy that we’d rather put into closing sales. At the same time, there are thousands of dollars to be saved by efficiently managing your business finances. When you get technology on your side, it takes away the weight and frustration of accounting and tax filing.
The best part of this is that you don’t need a complex, expensive system, you just need one that is designed for 1099 independent contractors. That’s the key. Use an accounting system that fits your unique needs as a realtor and helps you run your business more smoothly.
Want to give QuickBooks Self-Employed a try? We’re offering 50% off your first 12 months (that makes it just $5/month!). Click here to try it out!
By Maddie Jostol
Taxes are a pain. Real estate agents face unique challenges as independent contractors because you’re running your own small business. This makes taxes an even bigger pain.
It’s really common for agents to miss out on deductions because the tax filing process is so time consuming and frustrating. Especially when you file on a quarterly basis, the accounting responsibilities of running your small business start to take over. Have you ever thought about how much savings you’re missing out on because you didn’t take full advantage of the deductions available to you?
A few of the many deductions to look out for:
– Mileage tracking
– Business-related technology subscription fees
– Meals and entertainment when you meet with clients
– Home office (or desk fees)
We’re going to focus on mileage tracking because that seems to be a common one for agents to miss out on. We understand why… it’s a huge annoyance to write down your mileage and then remember what that trip was for later on. We all end up with endless images of our car dashboard on our phone. That’s not exactly what you want to see as you’re scrolling through photos of your niece’s soccer game last weekend. When it comes time to file your taxes, it isn’t even worth trying to sift through pictures and records of trips you took for business. That means you’re missing out on some hefty deductions, though.
The good news? There’s a better way. We came across QuickBooks Self-Employed a few months back and realized it’s the perfect tool for busy agents. It’s an accounting tool built specifically for independent contractors, so it tracks your mileage for you so you don’t miss out on any deductions. Tracking your mileage and filing your taxes has never been easier… trust us.
When you have QuickBooks Self-Employed downloaded on your smartphone, it will track your trip every time you drive (yes, it knows when you’re in the car). Go into your app, scan your recent trips, and simply swipe left for business or right for personal. QuickBooks Self-Employed will categorize those expenses accordingly, making tax filing a piece of cake.
It also tracks and categorizes your expenses, making filing Schedule C deductions easy, you can also snap a photo and file away receipts, and see a snapshot of your business finances at any time.
Want to try out QuickBooks Self-Employed? Users are finding an average of $4,340 in tax savings per year. Since they’re a partner of ours, we’re offering you 50% off your first year. Click here for more details and to get set up!
You can also find out more about QuickBooks Self-Employed below:
By Maddie Jostol
Real estate agents: Now is the time to start your 2018 business plan. The end of the year arrived quickly (as always), which has most of us reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the coming year. As an agent, what’s your plan for ensuring next year is even more successful than this one?
It’s time to start your business plan, set goals, and put the right tools in place that will get you headed in the right direction – towards financial success. Here are a few things you should be thinking about this time of year, including a handful of free resources to help you get a jump start.
Set your GCI goal
Goal setting is a key piece of the planning puzzle. It’s vital for you to know what you’re working towards in order to map all of your efforts towards meeting that goal. Your GCI (Gross Commissionable Income) goal is a cornerstone to your financial plan, so set it early on and create a plan to reach it.
For those of you who are Moxi Engage users, make sure you enter your GCI goal into your Moxi account. This will show you the progress you’ve made towards your goal throughout the year. This transparency allows you to manage your time and finances more effectively. Want to learn more about this? You can in our help center.
Get a system in place
Get all of your processes in place so you can start the year off on the right foot. This includes a reliable accounting system and a smooth process for tax filing. As independent contractors, agents face unique challenges in tracking their expenses and filing quarterly taxes. Make sure you know what tools to use and which deductions to look out for. Want some tips? Download our Agent’s Guide to Stress-Free Taxes.
Our recommendation for 2018 is QuickBooks Self-Employed, an accounting app built specifically for independent contractors. It’s the perfect solution for busy agents. QuickBooks Self-Employed automates expense tracking, mileage tracking, and digital receipt storage and categorization. All of this is done easily on your smartphone, while on-the-go.
To give you a head start, we’ve partnered with QuickBooks to offer you a full year of QuickBooks Self-Employed for 50% off.
Make a plan
Whether you’re already starting your plan, or you’ve never created a business plan before – now is the time.
Join us for a free webinar on Tuesday, December 19th. We’ll have experts including Eric Thompson, Co-Founder of Windermere Leadership Academy and President of Windermere Services CO, and Charlie Snyder, Real Estate Specialist at QuickBooks. You’ll learn about getting started on your business plan, goal setting, saving money on taxes as an independent contractor, and managing your finances and business expenses throughout the year. They’re ready to bring you tools, templates, methods, and tips to help you be financially successful in 2018.
By Tiana Baur
What if we told you that you could be saving over $4,000 per year by going digital?
By going digital, we mean throwing out that shoebox you keep your receipts in and making it your New Year’s resolution to stick to digital when it comes to taxes. Your pocket will thank you for it and this is why.
Most agents have some sort of mile tracking app on their phones. You use it somedays, you don’t even know if it’s tracking the miles properly on others, but it’s an easy and realistic way to take advantage of write offs for your taxes. Sound familiar? We’re telling you point blank: that’s just the tip of the iceberg for business write offs and your wallet is suffering from not being proactive about all the others. It’s time to go digital.
To get specific, QuickBooks Self-Employed users find on average $4,340 in tax savings per year. When you first look at that number, it might seem big or small depending on how many sides you’re doing a year, but let’s break it down and make it a bit more tangible. That’s 87 bouquets you could be sending your clients, 44 bottles of champagne you could be toasting their new home to, 20 of these Notion home monitoring systems, four new iPhone X cell phones, or this BMW Active Hybrid e-Bike – crazy, right?! Basically, what we’re saying is, that’s a LOT of money you’re missing out on.
Sure, the QuickBooks Self-Employed app tracks your miles, but it ALSO helps you track deductions for meals and fun, prompting you to take a quick pic of your receipt and uploading it so you can throw it away and never think about that old shoebox ever again. Really, how many coffees, meals and happy hours do you buy your clients and prospects each week? We’re guessing the number is pretty high up there. QBSE also helps you track write offs for marketing and ad spend, home office or space, desk fees, those big purchases like furniture and laptops, fees and licenses, travel and education, and tools and services. That’s a long list.
Up to this point you’ve been haphazardly trying to save paper receipts and remember where you drove when. Life as an independent contractor is stressful enough. Real estate agents hardly ever even get a weekend in! By going digital with QuickBooks Self-Employed, it will help bring a little sanity back to daily life and more money back into your business.
Start your New Year’s resolution early this year – your 2018 self will thank you for it!
By Tiana Baur
There are some simple, yet essential ways to make sure your business is as profitable and thriving as it can be. These ten tips will hopefully serve as a check list for when tax season comes around, as well as the rest of the year in order to prepare and set your business up for the brightest possible future.
1. Remember to file quarterly taxes
This may seem obvious to most, but even though you know you need to do it, you don’t always remember to. Life gets busy. Filing quarterly taxes means avoiding penalties and additional interest owed. Not doing so can also raise a red flag with the IRS and hurt your business in the long run.
2. Home office deduction
Make sure you deduct for a home office, but make sure you don’t over exaggerate the size of the space. There’s a fine line with this one. Let’s say your home office is 250 square feet
of a 2,500-square foot home, the percentage of the deduction you can take is 10 percent. Remember you can only do this if you aren’t already deducting your office space at your brokerage’s office. Whatever you do, make sure you choose one to deduct so you don’t miss out on hard earned cash.
3. Mileage reporting
Don’t. Be. Sloppy. If you only remember to track miles on some days, you’re missing out. Tracking all your miles is the key to tax saving success. QuickBooks Self-Employed app auto tracks the mileage, so you don’t have to worry about remembering. With this program, you can deduct an average of over $7,000 dollars a year. Capture everything you need automatically, then categorize mileage with the click of a button.
4. Deduct your big purchases
Buying a laptop, phone, printer, furniture or anything else related to your business? Deduct! These big ones might get forgotten if you purchased them in the first two quarters of the year.
5. Coffee, lunches, dinners, cocktail hours
If you’re constantly taking your clients out for a bite or a coffee, make sure you keep your receipts. Scratch that. Snap a photo in your QuickBooks Self-Employed app. No more leaving receipts in boxes or in the glove box of your car. No more! Doing this correctly means saving agents an average of over $4,000 a year.
6. Avoid an audit
The more money you make, the more likely you’ll be audited. If your income is creeping up, it’s time to use a little extra paper to employ better tracking of receipts, donations to charitable causes, and mileage. Maybe also time to consider hiring a professional to keep an eye on your records, rather than trying to keep track of it all yourself. Maybe.
7. Deduct software
This one might surprise you. You can fully deduct any software needed to run your business, including accounting and lead generation software. QuickBooks Self-Employed for example, which automatically tracks your expenses and mileage, can be fully deducted. Win-win.
8. Further education
Lots of states require continued education to keep a real estate license, while in others, it’s not only required, but crucial to stay competitive. You are probably able to deduct registration costs, transportation, and accommodation costs for coaching, courses, etc. This goes for in-person and online courses.
9. Desk fees
Your desk fees are deductible regardless of your brokerage. With QuickBooks Self-Employed you can set a rule to automatically categorize this expense whenever you pay that desk fee. Keep in mind, you can only do this if you aren’t doing the home office deduction.
If you’re travelling to a conference, having QuickBooks Self-Employed makes life way easier. It allows agents to focus on networking and the purpose of their trip, by linking their bank account to the app. As soon as agents incur any expense associated with travel, all they do is tap a button to categorize it in one of the IRS approved categories.
Get started with QuickBooks Self-Employed today and start running a more profitable, professional business.
By Tiana Baur
Every single tax deduction you are or are not allowed to take is impossible to know without a helping hand. If you aren’t utilizing an accounting or tax management system, it means you’re losing a lot of money. And by a lot we mean thousands of dollars that could be in your pocket instead. Avoid overpaying on your quarterly and year end taxes with these tips:
1. Mileage – over $7,000 in deductions
You drive a lot, spending your days driving between properties, appointments and shuttling your clients. Sometimes you probably feel like a glorified Uber driver. How do you determine whether to go with the standard mileage deduction or track all your auto-related expenses?
For those who drive more than 10,000 miles per year, the IRS requires you to keep a detailed log in order to claim this deduction. It needs to include date, time, mileage and purpose of the trip. Do you use an app to track all of this? Even if the answer is yes, there’s a better app out there. QuickBooks Self-Employed is a tool that helps users track an average of $7,393 in mileage deductions per year. It automatically captures everything you need with the click of a button.
2. Meals and fun – save over $4,000 a year
You can deduct meals as a business expense in two forms: 1.) When you are travelling on business and 2.) When you are dining with clients or with other professionals for the purpose of conducting business or generating referral business. With these, you’re allowed to deduct 50 percent of your total expense, which includes tax plus tip for the meal.
Many agents save receipts in boxes and haphazardly enter them into spreadsheets or give them to an accountant later, but this leads to loss of money. QBSE streamlines this process. Simply snap a photo of your receipt with your QBSE smartphone app to digitally store it with your transactions. This process helps users save an average of $4,340 per year.
3. Marketing and ad spend
Online and social media advertising costs are quickly becoming a big part of agent spend. Agents are expected to do more for their listings than they ever have before and they need the tools to effectively do it. Did you know that production costs like writing and design fees are also deductible? This includes website design and hosting fees, search engine marketing, pay per click advertising, video production, and any other IT-related costs.
4. Home office or space
Do you have a home office or a dedicated space to work? If you do, you’re eligible for a home office deduction, even if you also have office space at your broker’s office — unless you’re deducting desk fees already.
5. Desk Fees
Your desk fees are deductible regardless of your brokerage. With QBSE, whenever you pay that desk fee, you can set a rule to automatically categorize this expense. This however is only an option if you aren’t already doing the home office deduction.
6. Big purchases
Stationary, photocopies, and any other consumables needed to run your business are deductible. The ones you need to make sure you deduct are the big ones: laptops, phones, furniture, copiers, etc.
7. Fees, Licenses, etc.
Annual fees are common costs of doing business and are deductible. In real estate, that means your state license renewal, professional memberships, and MLS dues. Also, you can deduct real estate taxes necessary for your business, but not self-employment taxes.
8. Education and travel
Given rapid industry change, continuing education is imperative. It’s also a requirement in most states. If you need to travel to attend an event or meet with a coach, make sure to track all the information correctly to ensure that you’re compliant with the IRS. One way to do that is by linking your banking accounts with QBSE. As soon as you incur an expense associated with travel, tap a button to categorize it in one of the IRS approved categories.
9. Tools and services
Any software needed to run your business is fully deductible, including subscription services. Products such as QuickBooks Self-Employed not only help you automatically track your expenses and mileage, but may be fully deducted as well.