Getting behind on your bookkeeping as a business owner is SO incredibly common. The story usually starts off something like this:
“I kept telling myself I would get caught up over the weekend. Then it’s suddenly 9pm on Sunday and I was either too busy or too tired to deal with the books.”
Five weeks behind quickly turns into five months behind. The anxiety is building up with each passing week and it’s starting to feel like you will never get caught up. Then something happens, like your spouse asks you about the state of the business finances because of an impending home purchase and the shame washes over you because you have no idea how to answer. Or you qualify for a small business grant but you don’t have the required financial records to apply by the deadline.
Then suddenly it’s January and you feel the pressure of approaching tax deadlines and you can’t find a CPA or bookkeeper who is taking new clients. Too soon, deadlines have come and gone and you have no idea how much in fees and penalties are accruing.
I have heard dozens of variations on this story in my years as a business owner. So when I sat down with Amber Landry-Miller, Brio Business Academy Expert and bookkeeper extraordinaire, we talked about what business owners can do to stay on top of their books. Here are her top four tips:
1. Do smaller chunks more often
When you are doing 5 minutes of bookkeeping daily, or 30 minutes weekly, it is never an overwhelming amount of time or information to deal with. It becomes routine and, at some point, the sense of pride replaces the shame and anguish that comes with procrastination.
2. Set a timer
A real timer. Then tell yourself I am doing ONLY ‘xx’ minutes of bookkeeping. The word “only” is important because it tricks your brain. Maybe you’ve gotten behind and it feels like a mountain you cannot possibly summit. Try committing to doing ONLY 30 minutes of bookkeeping and then set a timer and get to work!
Whatever you get accomplished in that time is WAY MORE than what you would have gotten done worrying about it.
3. Treat yourself
Have your bookkeeping time be something to look forward to. Grab your favorite non-alcoholic drink (because nothing good ever comes from dealing with numbers while impaired) and a snack you don’t normally buy yourself and turn your bookkeeping time into a positive one. Over time the little dopamine hit will help your brain associate bookkeeping with a positive feeling.
4. Have compassion for yourself
Being a business owner is a lot of work. Most owners start their business and then saddle themselves with being the head of every department: marketing, sales, business operations, and finance. You are likely wearing more hats than you could have imagined going into this. You are still learning and growing and, the truth is, you do not have to be an expert bookkeeper overnight. So ask for help when you need it or outsource it all together!
You might be in the DIY phase of your business or already outsourcing tasks to contractors, vendors, and employees. Wherever you are, you might still dread thinking about, talking about, or doing your books.
Sometimes having a better understanding of the basics makes all the difference. If you are looking for some basics, try the “Bookkeeping Made Easy” course where Amber breaks down all the fundamentals of bookkeeping and gives you regular tasks that support you in staying on top of your business finances.
If you’re ready to hire a bookkeeper, Amber shares red flags to look out for and questions to ask your potential new bookkeeper.
We at Brio believe that business ownership is the key to freedom in life, and we believe that freedom should be available for everyone who desires it and is willing to put in what it takes. And you never have to do it alone.