Keeping scrupulous records often provides tax benefits at the end of the year. But it's difficult for remodelers to remember this when they are busy running the company. The key is to devise a simple, easy-to-keep record system that you are likely to maintain. You don't need a high-tech gadget. One option is to use a month-at-a-glance calendar, and mark entries -- mileage traveled, lunches with subcontractors, money spent at the lumberyard -- in appropriate boxes. Another option is to keep a spiral notebook in your front pocket, write down information, tear off the sheets every day, and summarize them at the end of the week.

Whatever you come up with, make sure the system still allows you to be efficient at work and fits your personality. --Howard Scott is a business writer and small business tax preparer in Pembroke, Mass.