This article was previously published in Bird Breeder magazine and is reprinted here with permission of the author.
Wrapping Up 1997 - Planning for a New Year
by Laurella Desborough
Taxes and Planning
Taxes is a word that sends a chill down the spine of any United States citizen, including bird breeders. If we have been doing our record-keeping job all along, it won't be such a horrific word. If we have been just "collecting" our receipts for expenses and our copies of sales records, then we have more than taxes to worry about: We have to worry about planning 1998 without a lot of helpful background information! Whether we are making a living by raising and selling birds, supplementing our income or just trying to cover the expenses of a serious avicultural hobby, it is extremely helpful to be able to work with such solid data as real expenses and real income. So, if you are busy going through folders stuffed with sales tickets and old shoe boxes full of receipts for hand-feeding formula, pellets and paper towels, you know that uneasy feeling that accompanies the thought: "There must be a better way!"
Routine Record Keeping
For many bird breeders, the computer provides an excellent record-keeping system...if one bothers to take the time to input the data on a routine basis. As Joanne Abramson of Raintree Macaws said, "The day's work isn't done until the daily records are completed!" Each time we say to ourselves, "I'm too tired tonight; I'll do it tomorrow," we risk forgetting to do it altogether. If it involves details with numbers, we may not remember them accurately.
When dealing with busy schedules such as most bird breeders do, record keeping is often the item that we let slide. Perhaps if we shorten those telephone conversations or trim some other activity, we can make time to do the daily record keeping. Designing record keeping into the daily routine ensures it will be done.
Where To Keep Records
Whether we keep information in folders, in files, on the computer, on 3-by-5 cards, in ledger books, in three-ring binders or in spiral notebooks, it is important to keep records: Dates, names, subjects and locations are important. One word on a page is not enough to provide a record. Various kinds of records are needed if you are audited by the IRS: detailed mileage logs, daily activities logged into the prepared pages of personal day planners, logs of sales or expenses, aviary logs of bird production, conference registration fees and travel expenses, and records of advertising expenses. There are forms, books and programs to help you successfully keep records.
Most office supplies stores have a great variety of useful products to assist you. Take some time to review them and see what will best serve your needs.
Planning for 1998
For those who have been keeping records consistently, a review of the totals for the year will give an idea of directions for 1998. For instance, if sales were slower than usual, that calls for a review of the marketing of youngsters. If sales were low and costs were high, resulting in an overall poor return, a review of the financial plan may be needed. If there were problems with infertile eggs from the breeding pairs, diagnostic veterinary work may be needed. If there was a lower number of youngsters produced, a review of the overall management may be needed, from diet to caging to service protocols to veterinary review of health status of the breeding pairs. It may be necessary to have a discussion with your veterinarian and review the flock management.