Saving time with simple bookkeeping systems

I was recently working with a client and we discovered that their bank had overpaid one of their vendors by over $500! That can be a lot of cash for a small business. It’s easy to think that something like this won’t happen, and if it does, it’ll be an easy fix. But what if that $500 becomes $5,000—or even $50,000? The obvious answer is to stay on top of your books and keep them clean, but for small business owners, this can be time consuming and distract from the big picture. The solution: set up a system.

Today I’d like to share with you one of my bookkeeping strategies, which can help you systematize what kind of bookkeeping tasks you should be doing, if any, at any point of your day/week/month/quarter. Properly implemented, this strategy will serve to minimize your overall time spent bookkeeping by only focusing on the tasks you need to do then-and-there. So let’s get started!

(As always, this strategy is meant as a guide and does not mean that everything listed will be applicable to your business. In fact, your business may have more “to-do’s” than are listed below. The basic guidelines below will, at the very least, help you get started.)

First, let’s break the types of tasks into four main categories: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and Quarterly.

Daily:

  • Process and send any invoices to your clients/customers
  • Add any expenses you may have occurred (if you work with an online program such as QuickBooks Online, accept any new transactions in the banking register)
    • If any of your expenses are reimbursable, directly connected to a client, or part of your Cost of Goods Sold, make note of that here
  • Record any bills you may have received
  • Put your receipts from the day’s activities in one place
  • Record any checks you have written

In other words, if you did anything in your business that is connected to money (if you worked, sold something, or spent anything), note of it in your accounting system.

Weekly:

  • Confirm that all invoices that needed to be sent have been sent
  • Pay any bills that need to be paid
  • If you use an online accounting system, accept the transactions from your banking center. If you use an Excel or simple-style method to keep track of your bookkeeping, enter all of your expense transactions (any time you spent money)
  • Scan your expense transactions to make sure that everything has been coded/posted to the right expense account (and mark any transactions that you’re not sure what to code to as “Ask My Accountant”)
  • For any invoice that is past-due by 30 days, call and follow up with your client for payment

Personally, my daily and weekly tasks are pretty intertwined. The biggest thing to pay attention to is making sure you’re getting paid. As soon as you’re able to send an invoice – get it out. While we hope that our clients will be timely with their payments, it’s not always the case. The sooner we can get the invoice out, the sooner the client can be followed up with and your payment secured.

Monthly:

  • Wrap up any daily/weekly task that needs to be completed
  • Reconcile your bank and credit card(s)
  • Run and analyze your monthly reports:
    • Balance Sheet
    • Profit & Loss
  • Set aside money for taxes (as always, consult a tax professional)

Quarterly:

  • Wrap up any daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that haven’t been completed
  • Pay quarterly taxes (if applicable; again, consult a tax professional)
  • Review any outstanding invoices and make a decision as to whether those debts can be collected or not
    • Write off any invoices that you know can’t or won’t be paid (hopefully you’ll never be in this situation!)

Hopefully this little guide will help give you a starting place for what you can be doing at any given time for bookkeeping. Properly implemented, this kind of step-by-step approach will help you save time in the long run. To keep myself on task, I use a calendar to provide me with reminders and notes of what I need to be doing (i.e.: “Invoice clients X, Y, and Z, complete monthly reconciliation,” etc.), so that all I have to do is show up and get it done.

Have your own time-saving strategy to share or want help forming one for your business? Message me at sarah@sarahvanloon.com!

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