The Bookkeeping Wishlist (Finding Your Perfect System)
Before we dive into your wishlist for the perfect bookkeeping system, think about the things you don’t love about your current system. Is it just too complicated? Is it non-existent (because you’re just starting out)? Is your business outgrowing the capabilities of the current system, so it doesn’t do everything you need anymore? Before you read any farther, take a minute to write out what these problems are.
Once you know what you want to avoid in the new system, look at the medium you want to use for the new system. You have a few options.
Digital - Do you want an accounting program that is cloud-based or on your desktop? Or would you rather just use a spreadsheet for right now?
Paper and Pen - If you don’t have many unique transactions, this option could work for you.
Another person - Do you just want to see the final report at the end of each month? Maybe consider hiring a bookkeeper to do the detail work for you.
There are seemingly endless possibilities when it comes to bookkeeping systems features. It would be very easy to find a system that looks awesome, just to discover it has a bunch of things you don’t need (and might be missing what you do need). At this point, you should start thinking of the details of what needs to be tracked. Consider these possibilities:
Do you want an automatic feed from your bank into your system. If you’re using a spreadsheet, you will need to see if your bank will export to an Excel doc, then build your files so that you can basically copy-paste all the data, then sort afterward. If you are looking at bookkeeping programs, make sure that your specific bank will work with that program.
Do you want an at-a-glance dashboard or do you like looking at the details?
How will you track expenses like mileage, receipts, etc.? Some bookkeeping systems have add-ons that allow you to upload paperwork to various transactions, which puts everything in one place. Even if you are using a spreadsheet or a paper notebook, you may want to consider a mobile app to store receipts so you don’t lose or forget about them.
Do you have inventory that needs to be tracked?
Do you need to invoice clients or have a point of sale system?
Do you need a way to give estimates or quotes to clients?
How will you keep up with all the contact info for clients, suppliers, and other important people?
Do you need some kind of merchant account support to accept credit card payments?
How do you want to create and keep track of your budget for the year?
Do you need an integrated payroll system? If so, how many employees do you expect to have over the next couple of years?
Can this system help you prepare for tax season? How easy is it for your accountant to access and understand the data you input?
How many people will need to access the system? You might be the only one (plus your accountant, of course), or you might have a bookkeeper or employees who enter data for you. You may also have some users who need to have partial access only. For example, if you have employees who make estimates for clients, you may not want them to have access to the payroll part of the system. Make sure the system you choose allows you to restrict access, if needed.
Does your business require any industry specific software, such as manufacturing, construction, or medical billing?
There are so many things to consider when creating an easy-to-use bookkeeping system that works for your business. Keep in mind that it needs to be able to grow with your business. It would be disappointing to build a perfect system, then realize that you have to start all over in a year because your business has different needs. Many online bookkeeping systems have free trials (or are always free), so try out one or two to see what feels right. You may discover that the best option for you costs money. While you may be tempted to go with a less desirable system to save money, think about all the reasons you need a great system. As a business owner, you have a thousand things on your plate. Freeing up your time, energy, and mental space will allow you to focus on the parts of your business you love, so don’t be afraid to allocate part of your budget to bookkeeping.
Need help figuring out how to build to perfect system for your business? Send me an email today!