The year draws to a close: snow, winter walks, cross-country skiing, good food, good friends, inventory and bookkeeping. Well, it was a good list until the end. But that is what December is for me: a time to inventory all my beekeeping equipment, honey stores, and bottle supplies. A time to total up retail and wholesale accounts, and see how the business is performing.
I do not come to bookkeeping easily. It is, indeed, the most boring and often heart wrenching endeavor I do every year. Happily this year the books look good. It was not always that way when I started out. This isn’t unusual. It is said that businesses take an average of three years before they show a profit. Add to this the worldwide recession and the bookkeeping can be a bear.
If you’ve been in the beekeeping business a while you’re used to doing the books and inventory. If you’re just beginning, start making a habit of doing your year end paper work now. It will make it so much easier as the business grows (and make your partner and/or accountant so much happier).
A Grand Time For Those Of Two Minds
Conversations can get odd sometimes around the farm. I tend to refer to Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey, LLC as “the bees”. The “bees” make money, they pay bills, they own some bee related items, they rent some things from me and they get loans, again from me (I’m generous, they’re interest free loans, but they do have to be repaid). “The bees” are totally removed from my husband and I, although we are members of the LLC. (limited liability company ).
Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey, LLC’s money is the business’ (“the bees’”) money. The business makes money (thank goodness); it pays its bills and can do distributions to its members (we’re getting there). None of that money mine.
But it can get strange, especially when discussing if “the bees” (Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey, LLC) can afford something, or what exactly do “the bees” own, and what is “their” current monetary worth. And every December I have to sort this out for them. Wouldn’t want to get them out of cluster to do this. That would be rude.
I count hives, frames, foundation, boxes, tops, bottom screens, tools and machines : the whole works. This doesn’t show up on income taxes (unless you’re selling bees), but it does show your operations worth, and makes insuring your business simpler.
Honey stores and bottles do factor into the taxes. But they also serve to let me know which honeys are selling more rapidly and which containers are the most popular. This is reflected in our year’s sales, but it is way easier to count existing buckets, barrels, and bottles and then compare them to what purchases were made.
Plan For the New Year
Armed with the resulting numbers and values, I find it easier to plan for the coming year. It helps me to see what expenditures will be coming up and what items I could, or should, cut back on.
The overview also allows me to see if there are new avenues that I should pursue, which honeys or containers I should emphasize and if there are things that I am currently doing that are not really working for the business. Like all things in life, businesses must constantly evolve.
It’s hard predicting the future with bees or with sales in general. But having all the numbers together really does help. And after all it has to be done for the taxman anyway.
That’s the news this week from Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey in Maple Falls, Washington. Now that the numbers are all in and recorded, I think I’ll go do something “fun” like fix the road.