Stop Sucking at Bookkeeping: How To Create A System

I promise you, I'm not passionate about bookkeeping. I don't find it even remotely interesting. On the contrary, I actually hate it. I hate it so much that I started a company that hires bookkeepers to do the books for all the creatives in my life who hate bookkeeping. Why? Because I'm passionate about helping people get their shit together so they can focus on what matters.

When my wife first started her company four years ago, it was all hands on deck. Which meant, I had to bring my skills to the table and got hired for the job I never applied for - CFO, Controller and Bookkeeper extraordinaire. Here's what I learned from doing their books for the first few years. It was really hard to be disciplined about bookkeeping when I could be my own boss. I wasted so much psychic energy on dreading doing the bookkeeping because I would let the work build up for weeks. Clean books are vital for decision making within the business. It took me a while to implement what I had already been taught - creating a system is key to keeping the work manageable and not losing my mind juggling all the different aspects of multiple businesses and life. 

For all you scrappy small business owners who have to wear all the hats and are trying to have a fulfilling personal life too. I feel ya, guys. This ones for you.

1. Just start already.

Yeah, how many of you are reading this and thinking, "Oh, shit. Yeah, I have to do that." Lots of you, I bet. I'm not judging or being condescending, I'm just saying stop effing around and handle it already. I've been there - it's such a relief when you take the physic energy that goes into procrastinating and just focus it on getting shit done. I know you know this. Rip the band aid off. Take the leap. Insert whatever motivational phrase here to convince yourself to set aside a few hours to get this shit taken care of.

If you're a freelancer, use Xero Tax Touch or Quickbooks Self-Employed. The learning curve isn't as steep as some softwares.

If you're a small business owner, go and sign up for Xero or Quickbooks Online. Give them your credit card number, give them your money. You'll be surprised at how motivated you feel after your checking account gets debited the monthly fee.

2. Find an accountant or someone who can help.

If you don't have the scratch to hire someone, you can absolutely learn how to do your books. It's not hard, but it is annoying because you have to shift brain into an analytical mode. You can take an online course if you have the time or find an expert who can coach you. My favorite is to reach out to your accountant and see if they'd show you around, set it up, and teach you how to navigate it. Then start keeping your books and have your accountant review them every month or quarter to make sure you're doing things properly. It's better to have him or her review it more frequently at first so you don't make the same mistake for too long - which can be an annoying time suck to fix.

3. How often should I do bookkeeping?

Like every week or maybe every other week. Even if you only have a few transactions. Do them every week. Trust me on this. Develop a habit. You check your email every day. You do laundry weekly. You pay rent each month. Just make it one of those habits that you do every week. Annoying? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely. If you know me, you're annoyed that I always repeat this: know your numbers, know your business.

4. Reconcile the books each month. Put it on your calendar.

Choose a day each month to close the books out from the prior month. For example, let's say you choose to reconcile the books on the 6th of every month or the second Tuesday of every month. So on July 6 (or the second Tuesday of July), you'll review the June bank statements to make sure all the transactions on the statements match all the transactions in your books.

Put that shit on your calendar so you make time for it. Don't book any meetings. Make time to work on this shit. It's important for your business.

5. Rinse. Repeat.

That's it, guys. Start. Learn. Maintain that shit regularly. 

 

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