Embedded Systems, Software, Android Apps

Business Log


 Introduction

BusinessLog is intended primarily for small business owners, rental property owners and consultants who want to keep good records and save time when filing for taxes.

The IRS requires that Schedule C be broken down in 5 main categories: Income, Expenses, Cost of Goods, Vehicle Costs and Other Expenses for each independent business you operate.

The app has been designed to make it easy to track income and expenses so that they fall in the right category and it will be easy to input your information into the Schedule C form.

While the app is intended primarily to make it easier to file your taxes, it can also be extremely useful for consultants and a host of other small business or personal activities, like tracking large purchases and keeping track of warranty information for your purchases, vehicle maintenance records and any other purpose.

The app has been designed to be extremely easy to use and fast. The last thing you want to do is spend more time than you have to for bookkeeping. You do not need to go through layers of menus to do anything. The initial configuration (setting up your businesses and income/expense categories) takes a few minutes and you are ready to roll.

The app opens up on the main database and you can browse existing records, or create new ones immediately:

 


 Warning

The purpose of the app is to store information that may be critical to your business. Your phone or tablet are not perfect and may fail at the most inconvenient time. It is very strongly recommended to ensure the app does what you need and that you frequently export the data using the Export CSV menu option. We cannot take responsability if the app or the phone crashes and you lose your data.


 Privacy

BusinessLog respects your privacy. It does not collect any information about you. The app does not make or use any internet connection (other than launching the email app on your phone to send your backup, or launching the browser to view this User's Guide).
Your data is saved on the phone itself, which is usually safer than cloud storage but the counterpart is that you need to backup your data regularly. Of course, you are free to use 3rd party apps and export your data to the cloud if you want but this is your choice and it is not required to use the app.
The app itself is not password protected. It is strongly recommended to protect the phone itself by enabling its password protection. If somebody gets ahold of your phone and it is not password protected, you may have many things to worry about, in addition to BusinessLog data.


 Refunds

Writing and supporting an app takes time and money. There are typically 3 ways an app author can make a business publishing an app:

  • Selling the app
  • Selling customer information
  • Selling ads
We have chosen the first method which gives you the least hurdles from using the app without you having to give up any personal information or get your internet bandwidth and display real estate clobbered by ads.

No Demo or Trial Version
There is no free Demo version, but if you buy the app to try it and do not like it, it is easy to get a refund (see below).
It is our goal to make sure you are satisfied with the app. If you encounter difficulties, please contact us using the email at the bottom of this guide.

If you are dissatisfied in any way, you can return the app and get a refund using the Play Store:

  1. Open the Google Play Store app.
  2. Tap on the Menu icon and choose My Account.
  3. Select the app you want to return.
  4. Tap on Refund.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to get your money back and uninstall the app.

 Definitions and Features

The following information is only provided as an example. You should always refer to the official Schedule C or to your accountant for the exact allocation of your business income and expenses.

First, some definitions. Here are the five classes of transactions that have to be independently itemized in the Schedule C.

  • Income is pretty clear, that's any money you collect in the course of operating your business.
  • Cost of Goods Sold is the portion of your costs that goes directly into the product you are selling, including direct labor and materials. If you have a service or retail business (like if you make wedding cakes or you are a garage door installer), that is the cost of the materials or the garage door you purchase for your customers. If you pay people to help you make your product, their salary is also included, but any other labor not directly related to working on the product you sell, like the janitor if you have one won't go into this category.
  • Expenses are most the other costs. Those that are not going directly into the products you sell, like the ad you place in the local newspaper, your gas and repair bills for your car or truck if they are used for your business. The instructions for Schedule C includes a list of all expense categories that have to be included in this class.
  • Miles You can deduct the actual expenses of operating your car or truck or take the standard mileage rate. If you choose  to use the standard mileage, you need to track your mileage separately even though the corresponding expense ends up in the Expense category on your Schedule C. It is required to tabulate miles separately and compute the expense using the rate published by the IRS. Check the Schedule C instructions as the rate changes periodically.
  • Other Expenses This includes other expenses not specifically listed in the Schedule C instructions for the normal Expenses class. That includes your cell phone bill if it is used for business for instance.

If you operate a consulting business, you may also want to track hours spent on given activities or projects for later billing to your customers, independently of the requirements of Schedue C. The app therefore also allows you to track hours as a separate category. You can also add your own categories, see further down.

Record Keeping
The app lets you take pictures and associate them with an entry in your log. The main use is for receipts, but you can also use it for other things. You can associate one picture with each record.

Ease of use
Aside from the original setup of your database (setting up businesses and categories) and the occasional export, most daily interactions (creating new records or modifying records) can be performed from the 4 buttons at the bottom of the main page without the need to access the menu.


 Main Screen

When the app is started, the main screen displays a table of entries. By default, the table is populated with a few entries to give you a feel for what it does.
It will be easy to clear them up before you start with your own actual data.

Adding a new record
To add an entry, click the "Add  New" button. A new page opens up where you can enter various information.

 

The date of the transaction by default is today's date but you can change it by clicking on "Cal" (for Calendar).
The app always reorders the transactions by date (most recent at the top), so you do not have to enter them in any particular order.
The next entry is the Amount. This is always a number. It could be currency, miles, hours, or any other number of your chosing corresponding to the category of income or expense.
The next two entries (Business and Category) are selected using the spinners. The choices you have are defined in two other tables which we will review later. This is the information that is necessary to have for your Schedule C, but you are free to add more categories to track other kinds of transactions.
The next piece of information is Description. This is a text field that you can use to enter any additional information you may need about this particular entry.
Finally, you can take a picture of a receipt or any other document you want to associate with a log entry.
When done, click "Add" and you are returned to the main table view with your new entry added.
If you change your mind before saving, simply click the Android Back button and you will be returned to the main table page.

Changing or deleting a record
To change or delete an entry, you have to first select it in the table by simply clicking on it. You need to click on the text part, not on the empty part of a cell.
The record you selected is shown in the blue bar below the main table. You can therefore easily verify you selected the right entry.
Then click on "Edit" or "Delete" according to what you want to do.
The Edit function opens a page similar to the Add page, except that the Add button has been replaced with an Update button.
Please note that there is no Undo. If you change or delete an entry, there is no way to automatically restore it. If you forgot what was the information you erased, your only hope would be if you have a recent backup.
However, deleting a record does not automatically delete a picture that may have been associated with that record.

Adding a new record identical or similar to an existing one
This can be useful for instance if you have multiple rental properties with monthly Homeowner Association Fees. While you may not want to track those as a separate category, each month you have to create one entry for each property with a comment (Description) of "HOA fee". Once you have created the first entry, simply select it on the main page and click "Add From". The Add page will open up but with the fields already populated with the data from the existing record. Simply change the "Business" to the new property, you may have to change the amount if it is different, click Add and you are done.


 Businesses

The default database defines 3 businesses as examples: "Art Shop", "Rental 1" and "Rental 2".
You can see those options by clicking on "Businesses" in the menu.

This action opens a table with the Business entries currently available.

To make a change or add new choices, use the Add, Edit or Delete buttons as was described for the main table above.

For instance, you can easily add a new business called "Personal" to keep track of your major expenses and warranty information.


 Categories

The Categories table can be accessed from the menu as well by clicking on "Categories".
Note that the categories are shared between all the businesses, even though as we talked about earlier, some categories may not make sense for a particular business.


 Editing Business or Category tables

When you rename or delete an entry in the Business or Category tables, the main database is not affected. The entries referencing the previous name are not modified in any way, so if you rename a Category, you may end up with more unique categories in the main database than there are in the Category table for instance. This is intentional. There is no facility to modify a batch of database entries because you want to rename a category across the board for instance.


 Saving Pictures

The app makes it easy to take pictures of receipts or other documents and associate them with a record in the database. Each record can be associated with one picture.
Pictures can be associated when the new entry is created, or added later (using the Edit function).
Pictures taken from this app are not saved in the normal Picture folder (you do not want receipt pictures in the middle of cat or children pictures!) Instead they are saved in the following folder:
Internal storage/BusinessLog
You can view the pictures directly from within the app by launching the default picture viewer, and if your picture viewer supports it, you can share or email them directly from there.
You can also easily access the receipt picture folder by connecting your phone or tablet to a computer via USB, or directly on the phone or tablet itself using a file manager.
Picture names have the same date as the record they are attached to, making it easy to locate a particular document. However, if you later change the date of the transaction, the picture will not be renamed.

When a picture is attached to an entry in the log, its file name is displayed and the picture related buttons (View, Erase) are enabled:


 Filter

You can set a filter to select the main database records that are displayed at any time. First you have to define a filter. To do this, click on the menu Set Filter. By default, all filters are unselected ("no filter"). By selecting a particular Business or Category, or a particular start and/or end date, you can accordingly restrict the records that are displayed. Once you have defined the filter using the Set Filter menu, click on the menu entry "Filter ON" to activate it. To turn it off, click on "Filter OFF".
Note that the filter affects all functions while it is turned on, including the export function. Therefore, if you have the filter turned on and you export your database, only those records that are displayed will be exported.

The buttons "All Dates" and "Months" define how the "Date begin" and Date end" spinners are populated. By default, the Date Begin spinner shows the 1st of the month for all the months in the current year (up to the current month) and all 12 months for the previous year. 00:00 AM is assumed. The Date End spinner shows the last day of the month for all the months in the current year and all 12 months for the previous year. 23:59:59 (11:59:59 PM) is assumed.

You achieve this selection by clicking on "Months".

Alternately, by clicking on "All Dates", the spinners are populated by all the record dates in the database. Since there may be a lot of entries, use that selection wisely.


 Search

The Search function operates on the Description field. You can search for an entire word or a portion of a word.

Search can be turned on and off independently of the filter. If both are turned on, both are active at the same time, i.e. the search will operate on the filtered results.


 Export CSV

This menu option allows you to export the database as a Comma Separated Value file or Excel spreadsheet via email. Either of these files can be easily imported into any spreadsheet program, including Google Sheets.

The CSV format is particularly useful when backing up the database as this format can be easily imported back into the database on the same or another device.

When using this option, the exported data will look just like the main database with the same number of columns.

Be aware that the Export DB function is affected by the Filter and Search settings, so if you want to export the entirety of the database, make sure both the Filter and Search functions are turned off.

The picture below shows the BusinessLog.csv file imported into Google Sheets on a smart phone.

The Excel format is compatible with all Excel versions from 1997 and up. 


 Export Schedule C

This option exports the database in a format more readily usable for filing Schedule C.  Schedule C can also be exported as a CSV file or Excel spreadsheet.
The "Amount", "Business" and "Category" columns are replaced with a series of columns named "Business 1 - Category 1", "Business 1 - Category 2", "Business 1 - Category 3", "Business 2 - Category 1", "Business 2 - Category 2", "Business 2 - Category 3" and so on where each column has only the amounts that belong to that combination of Business and Category. Only the columns where there is actual data are created (there will be no empty columns).

Just like the Export DB function, the Export  Schedule C function is affected by the Filter and Search settings, so if you want to export the entirety of the database, make sure both functions are turned off.

When the Excel format is chosen, the spreadsheet includes totals for each column.

The picture below shows the ScheduleC.csv file imported into Google Sheets on a Windows PC.

This picture shows the Schedule C export in Excel format (displayed by Excel 2016).

The Excel format is compatible with all Excel versions from 1997 and up. Note than when opening an emailed spreadsheet into Excel the first time, Excel will block the formulas, display a warning and the totals will show "4" instead of the actual values. Simply click on the "Enable Editing" menu in Excel to dismiss the warning and enable the formulas.


 Backup and Transfer To A New Phone

To transfer the entire database, including the Business and Category tables to a new phone, you simply need to copy the database files from the old phone to the new phone as follows.
The entire database is composed of two files "ScheduleC.db" and "ScheduleC.db-journal" that are typically located in the same folder as the pictures: Internal storage/BusinessLog.
The location "Internal Storage" varies by phone, so it may be easier to use an Android File Manager app like "File Commander" (free, available in the Play Store) to locate the folder.

You can also email your database directly from the Android Gmail app. When you open the Gmail app  and click on the paper clip icon to attach a file, by default you can only navigate to the usual folders "Image", "Videos", "Audio"  and "Downloads". The folder "Internal Storage" is hidden. If you do not see "Internal Storage", select one of the visible folders, "Download" for instance, click on the menu (3 dots on the top right) and select "Show internal storage". Then click on the Open File menu (three bars on the top left), scroll to  "Internal Storage" and from there navigate to the BusinessLog folder. Note that this process as described works on the native Android Operating System and may vary depending on the phone manufacturer.

To backup your database and/or transfer it to a new phone, simply send yourself an email with the two database files attached, using the following steps.

  1. On your old phone, locate the folder BusinessLog under "Internal Storage".
  2. Locate the files ScheduleC.db and ScheduleC.db-journal
  3. Use your mail program to send those files to yourself via email
Then, on the new phone, do the following steps:
  1. Install the BusinessLog app
  2. Start the app. The first time the app is run, it will create the sample database.
  3. Verify the app is running (main screen looks like screen shot above)
  4. Close the app (this is important) using the menu Exit function
  5. Locate the BusinessLog folder and the ScheduleC.db and ScheduleC.db-journal files on the new phone
  6. Replace these files in the new phone with the files in the email attachment (you may need the File Manager app to move the files from the Download folder to the BusinessLog folder).
  7. Restart the BusinessLog app
  8. Verify your database has been transfered.
Note that this transfers your records as well as the Business and Category tables, but not your pictures.

If you want to transfer the pictures as well, do the same thing with the pictures, they are in the same folder (see Saving Pictures).
If you have a lot of pictures, it may be easier to connect the phone to a PC via USB and use the PC to transfer the pictures rather than email.


 Contact and Support

BusinessLog has been extensively tested on a variety of devices and operating systems, with Android versions between 4.1.2 and 6.0. It is fully expected to work with more recent versions as well. However, the sheer number of phone models and Android versions makes it impossible to check all the combinations.

We want you to be able to use the app and we want to help you if the app does not work as intended on your phone, so if you have any problem, use the contact email below for help. Do not use the Google Play feedback for that as there is no way to respond to individual feedback posts.

Please do not post a negative review until we have a chance to address any problem you may have.

Support questions, bug reports, feature requests and other communications about this app are handled exclusively via email through:
BusinessLog@eds-fl.com

Thank you for using BusinessLog!