Yes, you CAN keep track of your business income and expenses and still have a life.
Small business owners work hard, and you know that – your laptop doesn’t close from the morning cup of coffee to the closing credits of Jimmie Fallon.
So, the thought of wrangling your balance sheet, tracking income and expenses, is intimidating to say the least. However, just 15 minutes every week can save you headaches, heartaches, and most importantly – time.
Let’s assume you have done your due diligence and created a business account, complete with checkbook and credit/debit cards. These are essential tools, but can also lead to a common pitfall, which is our first tip:
Keep personal expenses separate
You may have had the business VISA handy when at the grocery store, but unless you are a caterer, food is a personal expense. Don’t co-mingle expenses, because while you can always reimburse the business, it only creates work. Be disciplined and deliberate in your purchases, and you won’t have to piece back the puzzle of receipts to remember which account was used.
- There’s an app for that: Google Wallet, Apple Passbook, and Lemon Wallet are just a few digital wallets that manage expenses, and can eliminate the excuse that you left the appropriate card at home.
Ironic that we’re so busy that we forget to send out invoices to collect the money that is due to us. Create a simple system to first track expenses for a client, and calendar the dates you will send out invoices and expect payments to be received.
There’s an app for that:
- Depending on what you do, you might like tracking your business miles using Mileage log book from Amazon (old school and to the point); it’s only $7.92, and if you have Amazon Prime it’s free shipping.
- Track your billable hours or keep track of your expenses while on the go. Try Harvest for time tracking and invoicing (there’s a free version) – and we’d love you to use my referral link
- For receipt tracking: I like Evernote. Here’s a referral link and a 2-part corresponding blog article regarding keeping track of personal finances and receipts with a system in Evernote and getting ready for taxes with your CPA
- You can also combine Expensify to track receipts and Evernote to place them into a report.
Schedule a 15-minute appointment – with yourself
This is non-negotiable. You can’t cancel on yourself. Just 15 minutes to organize the week’s activities will make you feel better because you’re taking small bites out of balancing your books rather than trying to do it over an entire month. When you keep this appointment and have caught up for the week, celebrate with chocolate. You’re welcome.
Invest in a professional, but help them out
You’re an expert interior decorator. Or web developer. What you are not is an accountant or bookkeeper. So, please hire one, but understand that they bill by the hour generally and the more of a mess you hand them, the longer it will take them to untie that Gordian knot. Give them clean, easy-to-follow records that will be quick to process.
BONUS: generally a professional will also give you tips, help you learn, and offer suggestions on software (and how to use it if you’re particularly challenged) to further assist you with mastering your income and expense tracking
Suggested software and apps include QuickBooks, which has an online program as well to make sharing documents with the accounting professional you’ve so smartly hired that much easier. In addition, there are free downloadable bookkeeping programs available. Shop around to determine which will be most compatible with your accountant, and which offer a level of use that fits your skill level. I’m more than happy to help you pick the “right” program too! Schedule a time and let’s get started!
It’s all about spending a little time on the things that you might not have a degree in, but need to know in order to keep your business running smoothly. After that, the rest of the week is yours to dominate your field. And who knows? You may even now have enough time to relax and enjoy your success, too.