Make your business more bookkeeper-friendly to save time, money and stress
In small business you need to wear many hats, particularly in the startup phase. But trying to be all things to all people is a recipe for disaster, not success. Hiring a bookkeeper will take the pressure down.
I have been running startups now since I was 19.
From motorcycle dealerships, IT businesses and my own accounting practice (I’m in my late 40s now, but I’ll keep my exact age a little secret), I’ve spent many years trying to be everything to everyone.
Working on my own startups, as well as advising others, has made me realise that at some point as a business owner, you have to take a step back and delegate, or risk moving into the burn-out phase.
Once you reach the point of physical and mental exhaustion, you simply aren’t able to be anything to anyone. So it’s time to take action.
One of the easiest things to delegate is the financial management of your business, and bookkeepers play a huge part in helping small business owners achieve this.
With a view to making the process even easier, the following is a list of the five most important things you can do for yourself and your business before, during and after engaging the services of a bookkeeper.
1. Know what you’re good at
If you had the entrepreneurial spurt and went into business to be the master of your own destiny, then be your own master.
To paraphrase Michael E. Gerber’s E-Myth, if you’re making pies, then focus on making the best, fair-dinkum pies ever, so that you sell out every single day. Keep your focus narrow.
Similarly, define what it is that you love to do and then go find people who love what you do.
2. Know your own numbers
The proverb of teaching a man to fish still holds true.
Understanding what your numbers mean and how they’re derived is vital to running any business. But it doesn’t mean you have to do that work.
This is where a good bookkeeper comes in. Bookkeepers can help you understand, design and implement systems, as well as assisting in maintaining those systems.
Bookkeepers are no longer the little old lady in the corner entering data, they are so much more!
Ultimately, you didn’t go into business to do bookkeeping, so delegate it to the experts.
3. Get rid of the paper
If you have paper floating around the office, it will just create extra work, time and cost for you to manage this. So the easy answer is to get rid of it.
Storing images electronically is the way forward and will not only keep your accountant and the tax folk happy, but it will also give you peace of mind that the information is stored safely and can be accessed at any time.
I can remember going through an audit myself and having it all resolved in five hours simply because the information was instantly accessible.
There are tools available in the marketplace like Receipt Bank to help with this, and a good bookkeeper will be able to help you set it up, and create the systems to manage it seamlessly.
4. Don’t try to do your own tax
This one’s a biggy. And it ties back to focusing on what you are good at – if you aren’t an accountant, then don’t try to be one. Leave tax to the experts.
A bookkeeper will help get all of the relevant information systemised and be able to help you liaise with your accountant for year-end tax time, but they can also take care of things like quarterly BAS (Business Activity Statements) and payroll obligations as you grow.
Bookkeepers that are Registered BAS Agents (that means they’re licensed by the Tax Practitioners Board and approved by the Australian Taxation Office) are able to advise you on all GST-related matters, and this is super useful in allocating things that can be claimed.
If this isn’t done right, small business owners will often be leaving claimable GST credits on the table and, as a startup, cash flow is ever important. Some businesses I’ve worked with have left thousands of dollars unclaimed for this very reason.
5. Embrace technology
It’s 2018. It’s the digital age. There are apps for everything now. So it’s high time everyone gets with it!
One of the main outcomes modern technology has brought small business is the time and cost savings. And all this gets back to the cash flow, right?
Who doesn’t want to be keeping more money in their bank? Using the right technology solutions will improve efficiencies and cut costs.
A bookkeeper will also prove helpful when it comes to your technology. They can perform an overall business systems analysis and provide recommendations of things you can implement to make the operations of the business smoother, more cost-effective and just plain easier for you as the owner, and your staff as well.