From time to time, we provide valuable information and resources for our clients.
Here's a growing list of featured articles that we want to share with the public.


In 2009, I founded a non-profit organization, Walk the Light, in efforts to make the arts a vehicle for change. My experience leading and growing that organization for 6 years was a fulfilling adventure that gave me insight into the non-profit management sphere. Now, with my financial services company in its 11th year, I am merging that experience with my business to serve and consult for non-profit organizations in need of outsourced financial services. 

Keeping proper books for a non-profit organization isn’t just essential for an organization’s capacity for fundraising, but is also imperative for compliance with federal laws that govern reporting requirements, among other things. We know that you’re busy making sure your organization has the biggest impact possible, and these details can fall through the cracks.

So, we’re here to help. From the start-up phase, to acquiring the 501(c)(3) status, to setting up and managing your accounting software, to advising on best practices - let us handle it so that you can get back to work serving your community. 

We’ve just launched a new division that caters directly to non-profit organizations called Cultivate. We have designated a team specifically for this industry because non-profit organizations have such unique needs, and require special attention. Our team has over 40 years of experience, combined. We know that you’ll be in good hands.

Check out our non-profit division at www.cultivatefinancial.co

-Laura Allen, Founder of Pencil, Inc.

NEW ARTICLE featured on Officernd’s blog

Manage Cash Flow in Real-Time with RnD, Xero and Stripe

The goal of every entrepreneur is to get past the bootstrapping phase and to experience the relief of no longer having to beg, borrow or steal advice, time or resources.

In this phase, the biggest issue is not knowing fully what you owe or what you’re owed, and how to break that down into meaningful metrics on your financial statements so you can make better management decisions.

The reality is that efficient cash flow management is really only possible if you have your accounting ducks in a row and follow more closely the accepted accounting standards and guidelines.

It used to be that a company would need to grow large enough to afford building or buying a license to an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software in order to accomplish that coveted status because the system connected all of the logistical, managerial and financial dots.

Now, we don’t have to wait for a company to grow large enough to afford an ERP. We can jerry-rig one by integrating multiple apps – all at a relatively affordable price.

The advantages of a faux-ERP now being made available to the small business owner are often the missing puzzle piece to ensuring their successful launch.

The more automation of tasks and synchronization of data, the more time the company has to devote to selling its products and services. This can now be a reality for the small companies through the proper utilization of the cloud-based softwares that share data.

The best approach coworking spaces can follow to improve cash flow management, is to use a coworking management software that has a direct integration with the accounting software and merchant service. Our personal favorite combo is OfficeRnDXero + Stripe, and I’ll explain why.

Meet the integrations trifecta: OfficeRnD, Xero and Stripe

For the small business, obtaining any semblance of GAAP, IAS or IFRS used to be a joke. They were happy with being on the cash basis on the books because owners kept a running total in their head of how much they were owed and owed.

Data entry for AP or AR was something the owners did nights or on the weekends, or saved for a later phase in their growth whenever they could hire someone to do it. (I even recently took on a client who never bothered to enter data, and used to throw away their bills once they paid them!)

Automating AR data entry

Apps like HubDoc will scan in the bills and post them to the accounting software, which solves one part of the equation. OfficeRnD has a two-way integration with Xero, so it will post the invoices to Xero when they’re created and will solve the other part of the equation.

This covers the basic requirement of being on the accrual method, but a wrench is often thrown in when you’re toggling between the two apps trying to reconcile which invoices in Xero have been paid or not.

That’s where Stripe comes in.

Utilizing up-to-minute data to easily predict cash flow

Using Stripe as your merchant service for billing is a great solution because Stripe integrates directly with OfficeRnD.

So now, whenever a member’s invoice is paid, not only will it be marked as paid in OfficeRnD, but it will also be marked as paid within Xero in real time. Now you’ll be able to look at Xero’s awesome dashboard and see the amount that’s actually currently due in your sales corner, instead of waiting on the bookkeeper to catch up the coding.

Another way that Stripe will save you time on your bookkeeping and ensure you are utilizing the most up-to-the-minute data for easily predicting cash flow: when the Stripe integration is set up in OfficeRnD, the system will automatically create a new Stripe Clearing asset account in your chart of accounts.

When an invoice is marked as paid by Stripe, it not only removes the invoice item from the AR account but also posts the funds in transit amount to that new clearing account so that you recognize the asset on the balance sheet.

This allows you to then know precisely what money is coming your way, versus what you’ve already got in your bank.

Then, when the deposit comes through the bank feed, you code that credit to this same Stripe Clearing account to offset the debit transaction posted by Stripe. The revenue item would have already been recognized whenever the invoice was created from OfficeRnD, as long as your mapping between the two apps was setup properly.

So voilà: the accounting of your entire accounts receivable process will be thoroughly complete and accurate according to accepted accounting standards – and all of it will have been done effortlessly through the integration of these three apps – what I call the “Trifecta of integrations.”

Read the full article on OfficeRND’s website, here!



We know what you’re thinking! “Wait, can that be right?” Yes, if you are an artist who is incorporated and is selling certain products or services.
     [ If you want to stop reading immediately because you are in distress, just reach out to our team & we will help! ]

It is not just the sale of the physical art, itself, that is taxable, but also the service you provide to create the custom works. A lot of artists are providing services for weddings, so here are some examples of scenarios that may apply to you: 

  • If you are doing the lettering on the wedding invitations, you should include sales tax in your fee.

  • If you are the caterer making the cake for the wedding, you should charge sales tax.

  • If you are photographing or filming the wedding, then you should include sales tax in your fee.

  • If you are selling the digital or physical prints to the couple after the wedding is over, you should charge sales tax.*

OK - so how do you make sure you’re kosher with tax?

  1. Go to the Texas Comptroller’s website and register for a sales tax certificate: https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/permit/

  2. Collect sales tax for each “sale”, or any time you get paid. Markup your fee by 8.25% **

  3. Then send that money (the 8.25%) to the State of Texas each month via the Comptroller’s website.

Some good news: there are a few tax “holidays” on the calendar, where you don’t have to worry about collecting sales tax. One popular one is the back-to-school tax-free weekend, but it only applies to the sale of certain items. You may sell clothing, for example, and this may be a product that you could sell tax-free. For more information on what is allowed to be sold tax-free, and the reporting requirements for sellers, see this handy website: https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/publications/98-490/reporting.php

The State of Texas has made a few podcasts about sales tax that touch on some frequently asked questions. You can find them on their website: https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/training/

*See the following Comptroller Rules that define the taxable services, to determine if your service qualifies:

  • 3.300, Manufacturing; Custom Manufacturing; Fabricating; Processing,

  • 3.293, Food; Food Products; Meals; Food Service and

  • 3.312, Graphic Arts or Related Occupations; Miscellaneous Activities, and

  • publications

  • 94-143, Draftsmen and Designers,

  • 94-187, Mold Remediation Services,

  • 94-176, Photographers and Texas Sales Tax, and

  • 94-115, Ready to Eat Food.

**The state of Texas’ rate is 6.25%. The other 1-2% is a city-level charge, and the rate varies depending on what city in which the service was performed. The tax to the cities and state can be paid via the Comptroller’s website.

NEW ARTICLE featured on artist uprising


So, you’ve developed your product, you’ve honed in on your brand, you’ve worked hard to gather a social media following and have a gorgeous Squarespace website… but did you file your tax return?

1. Bite the bullet.
     Invest in your “back-office” tasks as much as the product you’re selling. You buy the proper paint brushes, but have you bought a proper filing cabinet? Seriously. Set up a real office. Just go buy some paper clips, for Pete’s sake.

2. Crunch the numbers.
     Take time to budget properly. Learn how to use spreadsheets. (We love Google Sheets!) And, most importantly, pay for a cloud-based accounting software. A real one, like QuickBooks Online or Xero, not Mint that does a half-ass job at tracking a few key budget items. It’s one more subscription fee to add to your monthly expenses, but the payoff is huge in the long run.

This will streamline your accounting tasks, as well as make sure you’ve kept up with the bookkeeping, which may even help you save on the tax that you owe!

3. Consult with professionals.
     Don’t know how to incorporate? Don’t know how to set up your accounting software? Don’t even know where to start? Call a professional, like the ones at Pencil, Inc, and pick their brains. Most professionals will consult with you over the phone for FREE! (We like that F-word.) So, take advantage. Hire professionals. Then, once you have your *free* game plan in place: invest in establishing the foundation of your business like a good ol’ startup would. Pay the professionals to ensure that you do this right, from a legal standpoint and a tax position. You don’t want to incorporate as an LLC, for example, because you will not save a penny on self-employment tax. So how do you maintain limited liability and save tax?

4. Hire a professional.
     Hire a professional well versed in small business startups, like those at Pencil, Inc, and they will make sure you do it right.

5. Don’t get behind.
     The worst part about accounting is the cloud hanging over your head whenever you haven’t kept up with it. For bookkeeping, do it on a monthly basis. Don’t wait to code transactions. You will forget what they were for and will have to dig around for receipts or flip through your calendar of events. So many people take a stack of bank statements to their CPA and they charge extra to do the bookkeeping for you. Avoid that headache and stay vigilant. Then, when January rolls around, wrap up those books and send off the financials to your CPA immediately. Don’t wait to know what your tax burden will be, and try to avoid filing an extension, if you can. To summarize: You are running a business. So act like one. Your art is no longer the same cute hobby that it was in junior high. You’re a shrewd business woman making a living selling products, which happens to be your passion. (LUCKY!) Now, go have a blast with it, including the accounting part.

Need a consult?
Use Promo code: ARTUP to get one free phone consultation with the Pencil, Inc. team to help you with your accounting needs!


new tax return filing deadlines

This effects C-Corporations, S-Corporations and Partnerships (which includes many LLC's.) See the schedule below for details. We offer tax return preparation services for personal and corporate returns. You'll face penalties for not filing on time. If you engage our tax preparation services, we will file your extension for free! Click here to contact one of our team members today.

  • C-Corporations: now due on April 15th

  • S-Corporations: now due on March 15th

  • Partnerships (Some LLC's): now due on March 15th

*Dates are based on a December calendar year end. 

Here's a handy article that summarizes all of the new rules. 



The following are notes from our presentation on how to limit your liability by implementing internal and external controls, safeguarding your company against inside and outside fraud. 

  1. Outside Fraud:

    1. Definition: Somebody outside the company finds a way to steal your money.

    2. Debit cards, hacking into bank accounts, email accounts, etc.

    3. How to protect yourself:

      1. Never have a debit card associated with your major bank account. Debit cards can be stolen so easily.

      2. Setup online banking so that you cannot send money out of your bank account. Do not enable the wire transfer or external transfer feature for your online banking account. (Banks will not pay the loss.)

      3. Do your borrowing from a separate bank, and not the bank where you have your major cash bank accounts. Bank loan documents have a clause where they can seize the assets held at the same bank, including cash accounts.

  2. Inside Fraud:

    1. Definition: Somebody inside the company stealing from you

    2. How to protect yourself:

      1. Divided responsibility. Bookkeepers should not sign the checks. Only owners should be a signer on the bank account.

      2. Fake invoices. The owners should review every payment that goes out.

      3. Diverting Income. The owner has to stay on top of his accounts receivable to ensure that you are getting your collections. If your business uses cash, you need to have two people count the cash.