How a Routine Makes Bookkeeping Easier
Is bookkeeping something you put at the bottom of your to-do list?
Truthfully, most small business owners would rather do just about anything else.
However, I strongly believe taking an active, and enthusiastic role in the record keeping of your business gives you a significant competitive advantage over those who don't.
Bookkeeping provides objective insights about what is happening in your business. Any decision or action you take in your business will eventually be reflected in the data bookkeeping provides. Participating in the process gives you an intimate understanding of this connection that just reading a report never can.
However, knowing that something is good for you isn't enough. When you are tired, stressed, or short on time gathering the resolve to tackle a task you don't love can seem like climbing Mt. Everest.
But, you're a gritty entrepreneur. You'll do whatever necessary for success, right?
If you set-up a routine then you eliminate these three obstacles to getting your bookkeeping done:
Stops procrastination so your bookkeeping actually gets done
A habit is defined as an acquired pattern of behavior regularly followed until it is almost involuntary. A routine is really nothing more than a series of habits. Once you've formed a routine around your bookkeeping you will no longer have to decide to do it. It becomes something you just do - like driving a car.
Saves time because there's no planning out what to do
To form your routine, you will need to thoughtfully decide what needs doing and carefully plan how to do it. But, you only need to do this once. The process creates an action plan you can use over and over.
Prevents work from building into a major project
The reality is, over time you will forget details. Even for major events in your business. I know this for a fact because over and over I routinely need additional information from clients at tax time. Unfortunately, by then, the event is sometimes over a year in the past. Those details are a distant memory and it takes a great deal of effort to unearth them if they aren't lost to time.
Handling your bookkeeping as you go, while events are fresh in your mind, prevents all that extra effort in the future, and the risk of permanently losing vital details.
Creating a Routine In Five Easy Steps
1 - List all the documents, papers, and information you will need
The way we work nowadays, the necessary records come to us in a variety of methods, snail mail, email for example, or we may have to go to them, such as online banking records.
Having all the records, and how to get them listed out will make setting up your routine so much easier.
2 - List the supplies and tools you will need
It totally frustrates me when I sit down to work and can't find my favorite pencil. I know it may sound silly. But ask any professional contractor, having the right tools makes your work easier.
Throw out that pen that never works and get supplies you actually like, and support how you like to work. Don't like the feel or sound of your keyboard? Get a new one. Your tools shouldn't be a distraction!
3 - Designate the day, time and place you will do your bookkeeping
Be strategic about your choice. This particular step can directly affect the success of your new routine.
Plan to execute you new routine when you will have both the physical and mental energy to give the work. The benefit of actively working on your own bookkeeping is gained from the process not just the final answer. You don't wnat to be tempted to merely "get it done."
If at all possible, chose a place exclusive to bookkeeping, It will serve as a mental cue to prepare you for the task.
Be sure you can consistently stick to your scheduled day, time, and place. After all, you are trying to create new habits.
4 - Decide how to organize your documents and supplies
This step is a complete reflection of your personal style. Some like everything color-coded and others don't want to bother. My best advice is keep it simple. You want enough organization so you have what you need and know where it is. You don't want the act of getting organized to balloon into a project unto itself.
5 - Create a checklist
A checklist of the individual task you need to do will keep you focused on "the doing part," and not on "the what part." Now, exactly what parts of your bookkeeping you will do yourself depends on your individual business.
If you have a larger business or one with numerous transactions you should focus on detailed reviews of summaries and reports others have prepared from your accounting system data.
If you don't have a team or fewer transactions you can focus on entering the data into your accounting system as well as reviewing the reports it generates.
One assumption throughout this post is you have an established accounting system. If you don't, how to set one up is too involved to cover here. But, you can still use a routine to your advantage with simply hand reconciling your bank account.
A major struggle that keeps entrepreneurs from growing their businesses is working too much in their businesses and too little on their businesses. Anyone wanting to take his or her business to a new level understands this problem all too well. To be quite frank, you must find a way to solve it.
I believe creating a routine around your bookkeeping will make working on your business easier, and once you see the benefits for yourself you won't do it any other way.
Ready to step-up your entrepreneurial game to grow your business?
I've designed a PDF Create My Paperwork Routine you can use to create your personal bookkeeping routine. Download it now and start working on your business.