Hey, Everyone I just found this article on tips to help you with managing your books the "daunting task" a lot of us face... It's by Daniel Kehrer and from what Iv'e read it has already helped me stay on top of things. I hope it does the same for you guys. "Talk to you soon"
10 tips for managing the books
Next to "selling more," the skill many business owners say they'd most like to improve is managing their business finances. From basics like banking and billing, to more complicated money matters involving financial reports and balance sheets, there's much to know about setting up and managing the money side of a business.
It's tempting for many entrepreneurs to focus on making sales, closing deals and pumping up the P.R. while putting off mundane chores like bookkeeping. But tending to financial basics is critical to keeping a business on track.
Here are 10 keys to keeping your bookkeeping and general finances under control:
1) Get the right software. Don't even think about keeping your books manually or with spreadsheets. Low-cost, easy-to-use financial software for small business such as QuickBooks, or the free version QuickBooks Simple Start (both at www.intuit.com) are perfect for keeping everything in order. New Web-based solutions such as Netbooks (www.net
books.com) are also great.
2) Automate your invoicing, too. Online billing services that can effortlessly issue your invoices and keep track of everything are one of the most helpful Web-based small-business services to appear recently. Check 'em out, and put 'em to work for your business. Look at Bill.com and FreshBooks.com in particular. The services are cheap and can help clean up a billing mess in an instant.
3) Separate your business and personal finances.
Many new business owners, and especially sole proprietors, fail to set up separate banking, bookkeeping and other systems to keep track of their businesses, causing confusion and potential tax headaches. Using money from your business to pay for personal expenses, for example, can get you in legal hot water, and at a minimum complicates your record-keeping.
4) Don't delay; do it daily. If your business finances change daily, you should have bookkeeping systems that update daily as well. This should include daily sales, purchases and other transactions, and especially any cash transactions.
5) Hire a bookkeeper. You don't need to pay an accountant's higher professional fees to handle routine bookkeeping chores. Many small businesses have part-time bookkeepers to help keep things in order. The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers offers helpful information on how to evaluate a bookkeeper before you hire one. Visit www.aipb.org and click on "For Employers: Free Bookkeepers Hiring Test." Or consider an outsourced solution that combines online convenience with professional accounting and bookkeeping services. Balance
YourBooks.com is one such choice.
6) Reconcile. No, I'm not talking about making up with a spouse you've neglected due to business demands. Rather, review your bank statements and balance your accounts regularly. Don't just toss statements into a stack. If you let days or weeks pass without updating records, you'll soon be lost and errors may go unnoticed.
7) Use calendar month timing. Most business owners find it helpful to account for money on a calendar month basis. But things don't always line up. For example, if your bank statement isn't based on a calendar month, ask for it to be changed. Most banks can make that accommodation.
8) Be proactive with your accountant. One reason you need to keep good books is so you can provide accurate and timely information to an accountant to prepare your business taxes. Get their advice on how best to set up your books and organize your financial information. You might also ask them to periodically check your books, adjust entries or prepare financial reports for your review.
9) Use a payroll service if you have employees. Once your business has employees, your finances take a quantum leap in complexity. Outsourcing to a payroll service such as Paychex, Sure Payroll or ADP places the record-keeping burden on them, and makes your end vastly easier.
10) Keep it simple and consistent. Bookkeeping is all about columns, and by keeping the same column headings all the time, you will avoid the frustration of mismatches. And if you avoid over-categorizing income and expenses, you'll also save yourself time. Often it's just not necessary to break things down into great detail.
Daniel Kehrer (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Editor of Business.com, the No. 1 business search engine, and Work.com, a "how-to" site for small business.