This episode of Ask Connie is a question that comes up often when I talk to business owners:
I need advice on implementing my bookkeeping and recordkeeping. How do I manage to really sit down and update records; close out the month; really make my accounting tool work for me; etc. I need ideas on how to make this process smoother, less painful, and get it done without tearing my hair out.
This is probably the most common question, because the acts of bookkeeping – data entry and record keeping – are not super fun for most of us. The truth is, there isn’t one simple easy fix for every business out there. It depends on your current accounting tool, where you are at in your business, and what your super ninja skill set is. Below are five steps that I discuss and review with clients that make a difference in finding the balance of working on your business versus working in your business.
Step 1 – Consistency and Schedule the Time
Most business owners work on their business on the fly or in the wee hours of the morning. It seems like a never ending cycle of doing. So the first step is to stop the insanity this is creating. My recommendation is that you pick a day and time to work on your business. If that seems like an overwhelming idea for you, I challenge you to just find 30 minutes this week. That’s all, not a whole day, just 30 dedicated minutes to work on your business. For the first few weeks you’ll spend your time just getting use to scheduling the time and working on updating your accounting. Turn your phones off and set a timer if you need to. The more uninterrupted and focused you can get, the better the results will be. As you get use to this, you may choose to make it a half or full-day (OH MY!). As owner and CEO of your business your main role is sales and revenue generation. Whatever time you don’t use to update your accounting would then be used for marketing and sales focused items.
Option would be to do focused blocks of time throughout the week. For example, you want to work on your business five days a week in the AM because that is when you are at your peak. Break out the administrative and sales tasks and do one thing every day in one or two hour blocks.
Step 2 – Automate Your Bookkeeping and Use the Easy Button
While QuickBooks desktop is great, and a tool I have a fond affection for, these days embracing technology to help automate the record keeping is key to finding that balance of working on and in your business. We recommend Xero or QuickBooks Online (QBO) depending on your individual needs. There are some cases where you may need to stay with desktop, take the time to find a solution that works for you where you are at today. As you look at your tool, find solutions to:
- Auto import your banking activity from your bank (checking, loans, credit cards), which might mean a new bank if they are behind the technology times
- Use rules to help make the data entry go faster, depending on the tool
- Look at document management tools that move you into paperless AND help to capture some of the data entry needs
The easy button solution is a browser based tool, like QBO or Xero. They will auto pull your banking every day and you can set rules to help make the tool smarter and your record keeping time will decrease. Both will link to different paperless tools, like Hubdoc, that will allow you to upload a scan or picture, enter some basic info and it will sync with the accounting tool.
Here are a couple links to blogs that may be helpful:
Step 3 – Ask for Help or Support
We often prioritize the cost of getting help rather than looking at the benefits of getting help.
Here’s the math:
- For simple math your time is worth $100. If you were to sell and do what you do best in your business someone else would pay you $100/hour to do it.
- If you struggle and pull your hair out doing your own bookkeeping (for this purpose it would be recording you bank activity, reconciling; could include paying bills as well – let’s not include invoicing, because I know you secretly enjoy doing that) and it takes 8 hours a month of your time, that is $800 in lost revenue.
- If you outsourced and hired someone to do the same activity, you know that if you have those 8 hours back you could generate revenue of $800, so as long as they don’t cost more than that you have a win-win.
- Or perhaps it isn’t necessarily the money but you get 8 hours of your life back to do other things, maybe even something fun.
We go over this in more detail on our resource page all about outsourcing – what, why, when, who, and the how of it all.
Option: sometimes you don’t need someone to help with the record keeping. Sometimes you need a little help in just getting started or some clarity around a process. Investing in getting some initial help with the accounting tool set-up and some basic training will get you moving in the right direction. Or even hire someone to review your work before you turn it over for tax processing, this may save you money in taxes owed and in tax processing fees.
Step 4 – Prioritize Yourself
Let’s take Step 1 a little further and take a step towards making you the most important person in your world. I hear you, and I have been there, you may have a life long obsession of putting everyone first before yourself. Moms do it all the time and as start-up businesses we do the same thing. I really wish at year two or three someone had took me aside, gave me a firm slap, and told me to stop and take a breathe.
- Realize this – really, hear this deep into your soul – there is no business without you. If you don’t take care of yourself first, your business will suffer and eventually be a big ol’ money sucking hole of emptiness.
- Take a moment and remember why you started your business in the first place and I bet it wasn’t to beat yourself up silly and put you on the verge of exhaustion. The business is there to support you, provide you income and flexibility, make an impactful difference on the world. If it isn’t doing that, it’s time to take a hard look in the mirror.
- If you are on empty you are not able to create the change in other people’s lives which means you are not able to receive anything from them. The more you take care of yourself and your ability to receive, you are more resourced to provide the services that others will throw money at you to get. This is the TRUTH! The more stressed out you are, the less income you will create and, more importantly, keep.
Step 5 – Habit and Processes
We discussed setting a specific time that will allow you to work on your business. So let’s talk about the basics. In our free report, Cover Your Financial Butt, we outline the whole accounting process in a checklist format so you can find the holes that may be missing in your existing process.
If you have plans on growing, my recommendation is to take this one step further and capture the process that you currently do so you can delegate it. Capture the process by:
- Recording a video or you doing it and you providing commentary of the why, how, when, etc.
- Use the recording device on your phone and just talk it out.
- Write it out – don’t make it perfect but capture a checklist and then with as much detail as possible write out what you do.
With all of these steps, this is the first crappy rough draft of the process. You will fine tune it as you go. When I hired interns I gave them my checklist and had them shadow me. Their job was to then go back and type out the process from that training. I reviewed it and we adjusted it. Then they created the training documentation. They even trained the next person hired. This is an essential part to realize now if you have plans of growing your business. A lesson that I learned the hard way.
The only other thing I would add to this process is to check your mindset. If you think it will be hard, it will be. If you think it will be easy, then you look for ways to make it so. The same goes for that mindset that may indicate you don’t have the skill set or aren’t a numbers person. To measure the success of your business, you need to look at the numbers. So if you want to have a successful business that supports you, then you need to check that mindset at the door.
As always, my suggestions were tested out on myself first and fine tuned before I ever use them to guide others. Do any of these bring up resistance or ah-ha’s? Share them with me or schedule a consultation to discuss these items, or anything accounting, further. You can get that process started by visiting our consultation page, here.