Simple Bookkeeping Basics For Women Entrepreneurs

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Recently, I was chatting with a friend of mine — a therapist and coach with a busy, private practice. She groaned as she shared that she wasn’t seeing any clients for an entire week.

I was dumbfounded. "Why?" I asked her.

Because she needed to spend all of that time getting her receipts and bookkeeping ready for her accountant, in order to prepare her taxes.

I looked at her, and asked one question: "So how much is it costing you in lost business, to do your own books?"

She looked back at me in shock, her mouth forming a perfect "O", as she said, "O.M.G.!!!"

Bookkeeping, taxes…I get it. They’re likely not be your favorite topics. But by following a few simple tips you can sail through keeping your books in order, with minimal time spent each month.

While I’m not an accountant or a bookkeeper, I HAVE developed simple systems that make it easy for me to keep my books in order, in just a few minutes per month.

Want to know what I do? Here are 5 of my easy-to-follow tips you can start using today, so that when tax time rolls around next year, you’re all set and ready to go. :-))

Tip #1: Ditch The “Receipts Shoe Box”

Throwing your receipts into a shoe box, thinking you’ll “deal with it later” just creates chaos…and a nagging to-do item on your already full agenda.

Instead, what I do is immediately put all receipts into ONE single folder. Every 2 weeks my bookkeeper collects the folder and enters everything into Quickbooks®. She then files each receipt into the appropriate folder, alphabetically (we have 1 folder per letter of the alphabet).

For her remote clients, she has them substitute a big mailing envelope for the folder. Every 2 weeks they seal up the envelope and mail it to her. She enters everything into the online version of Quickbooks®, alphabetizes the receipts, and mails them back, all ready to tuck into their appropriate filing folder. Done!

Tip #2: Save Time By Labeling As You Go

While I do track every expense to the penny, I don’t go crazy by having lots of different expense categories. I’ve found it’s far easier to keep things simple and basic.

So, what I do is when I print a receipt, or pull one out of my purse, I write the expense category name at the top, then slip it into the single folder I shared about above. Category examples include: marketing, training and education (that’s where I log mentoring and training programs I invest in), website, supplies, books, etc.

This way, my bookkeeper knows exactly how to record the purchase, and I don’t have to think about it again.

Tip #3: Use Online Resources

I shop online as much as possible, which saves me time and makes tracking simple. When the receipt lands in my inbox, I hit “forward”, sending it to my bookkeeper with the expense category typed into the subject line. She then prints it out for filing later. Total time for me? About 2 seconds. Sweet!

We also save tons of time by using online banking for everything from paying bills to downloading the credit card and monthly bank statements.

Tip #4: Let Go Of the Guilt And Please, Just Hire A Bookkeeper

Even if you’re new in business, your time is STILL more valuable than the minor expense of hiring a bookkeeper. Even if you only have a few clients, trying to do your books yourself means you’ll end up spending more time than you realize…plus, you’ll find yourself hating every minute, or you’ll do what my therapist friend did — let the task pile up until tax time, when it’s a mountain of paper to have to deal with. Ugh!

Plus, consider this: If you have “money mess” with your bookkeeping, what message does that send to Spirit about your willingness to be financially successful in your business?

Tip #5: Put On Your Big Girl Pants And Look At Your Numbers

I know…it’s a lot more fun to think about helping clients and mastering your craft. But the truth is, sticking your head in the sand or proclaiming, “I just don’t relate to numbers” isn’t empowered…or even very grown up.

So take a breath…let it out…and vow to step up into the empowered woman entrepreneur you secretly desire to be. Because being in business is about listening to the story your numbers are telling you…and making course corrections along the way.

I recommend starting by looking at a monthly “profit and loss” statement. It’s simple, and HIGHLY illuminating. I promise that by looking at this important snapshot of your business, you’ll find yourself making empowered decisions that give you MORE confidence, day by day.

Your books are the financial heart of your business and incredibly easy to master. So, my entrepreneurial friend, which of these tips will YOU implement first?

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Comments

  1. Thank you. Great tips!

  2. Tip 2 & 3 are great tips for me to add to my business, working on making folders and labeling receipts!

  3. Great tips. I also use shoeboxed for my receipts. No filing to be done, as they’re all done electronically. just write the category on the receipt, as Kendall mentions, then pop it in the mail to shoeboxed. Then you get a data file which has images of all your receipts. I recommend this to all my CFO clients. And tip 5 is essential. Just looking at your numbers gives you so much info about the health of your business. Can’t make a change without knowing where things stand in the first place.

  4. It’s also a great idea to use a credit card that summarizes by category your business expenses. That way at year end, you print the .pdf of your year’s expenses, they’re already totaled and you forward it to your bookkeeper/accountant. I also avoid using cash since that makes more record keeping which I want to avoid.

  5. Brilliant tips. I hired an accountant my first year in business and it was one of the best decisions I made as they’ve saved me a fortune over the years and I know exactly how to keep things in order with just a few minutes a week. The other fab decision was to hire a cleaner even before I was making any money.

  6. Thanks Kendall once again for your absolute commitment to help women in the issues that stand in the way of our business. No matter is the issue is glamorous or not I love your commitment Kendall to talk about absolutely everything that you know is bothering us women, in our path to serve the world with our brilliant talents.

  7. Wow–the one about what message am I sending to Spirit about my willingness to be financially successful was a heart-opener. I use Neat Receipts and have been tracking (I’ll admit, just really started tracking about a month ago), but need to get the receipts run through Neat Receipts weekly. Thanks for the realization!

  8. I have a folder for each category, which is where I put all the receipts for offline purchases. I also have a file folder Outlook called “Online purchases.” I don’t print those out because they get recorded into QuickBooks from my credit card statement. But that never felt completely optimized to my Accumulator archetype. I LOVE the alphabetical folders and writing the category at the top of each receipt. I’m going to adjust my system to incorporate that. Thank you Kendall! My geeky Accumulator eats this stuff up!

  9. Ana Mercedes says:

    Thank you Kendall.