21 Mar How to Automate Your Bookkeeping
Tax season. The time of year when small business owners everywhere realize their mistake in putting off their bookkeeping; the stress, the late nights, the scramble to get things pulled together in time – sound familiar?
The financial side of running a business can get a bad reputation. And we totally get it—nobody likes staying up until 4AM buried in a desk full of receipts. But if nothing more than the growth of your company sparked your interest the last time you checked your finances, it’s definitely time we talked about your bookkeeping.
Thankfully, we live in an age where technology not only allows you to quit procrastinating on your business’ financials, but also helps you conquer them with more efficiency than ever before! Whether you’re using websites or apps, now is the time to utilize technology to automate your bookkeeping.
Automating your bookkeeping will help you keep your sanity, communicate better with your tax accountant, and will save you valuable time to conquer other areas of your business.
Why Should You Automate?
Bookkeeping automation is valuable to your business for a lot of reasons; the first being that you’re probably already adding more stress to your life by not automating. According to a recent poll by SCORE, a substantial majority of small business owners say they spend more than 41 hours on tax preparation and bookkeeping each year. And in case you were wondering, another 18 percent said they spend 41-80 hours per year.
That’s a lot of time spent crunching numbers! Time you could have spent growing your business.
While the do-it-yourself mentality is something entrepreneurs are known for (and what allows many to make it as far as they do!), there are times when it’s important to strategize your time and resources. Automation is great because you still maintain control over your company’s financials and you save on the cost associated with hiring someone else to exclusively handle these tasks for you.
Another reason to automate your bookkeeping is to keep an eye on expenses. Let’s face it, the best way to track expenses is to record them as they happen. But all too often this gets pushed to the back burner. By the time you actually get around to recording te expenses, you’ve forgotten what it was for.
Automation can also help to create a backup trail of updated reports and accounts that contain recorded data, so that you have them easily accessible if something comes up. Let’s also not forget the late fees and other penalties that can occur when you’re being pulled in too many directions, without adequate time to properly figure out the financial side of your business.
Choosing What To Automate
The next step on your journey to bookkeeping automation is for you to look over your bookkeeping process to see what you can automate. Each business is different, but a great starting point is for you to take a look at each of these categories and see whether your current process is working efficiently.
Try these tips for finding the best automation for your small business, saving you time, and ultimately giving you peace of mind.
Invoicing clients can be a headache if you don’t have a system in place that’s working in your favor. Not only can this create unnecessary chaos, but it can create cash flow problems that can threaten your company’s ability to stay in business.
Keep yourself and your employees from manual messes by generating invoices automatically with Xero, an online accounting software that allows you to automatically generate recurring invoices. Not only can Xero be used for creating invoices, but it can follow-up on past due invoices by automatically sending scheduled emails for unpaid invoices. This will help you keep up with your accounts receivable, without needing to manually email your clients about their unpaid balances. The software also allows clients to pay invoices electronically, which ensures your invoices are paid quickly and effortlessly.
Establish an automated inventory process to save not only time but the labor that can be connected with tracking inventory. Stitchlabs is a great resource for automating your inventory, it tracks your inventory, manages multiple sales channels, and can create purchase orders, track order statuses and automatically update inventory—all in one location.
Save money and the problems that can come from expenses being misreported or having delays in being reported by automating your expense reporting. Try using Expensify. With the ability to integrate travel details and receipt capture technology, they’re a helpful resource for the entrepreneur on the go.
Tallie is another great resource and can be used for a mere $9/month to import receipts, manage workflow, and tracking travel mileage. Tallie also points out potential duplicate transactions and policy violations before even being submitted, which can save you your team from submitting expenses that don’t fit your company policy.
According to the National Small Business Association’s 2015 taxation survey, payroll taxes are one of the most difficult aspects of running a small business. While a majority of small business owners are still spending over 20 hours a year on payroll, automated tools are a great way to cut down this time, so you can focus on other aspects of your business.
Try automating with services such as Gusto, which allows you to save time by putting your payroll on autopilot. Set it and forget it. It’s as easy as that! And tax payments? Cut down your stress by no longer having to separate them from your payroll. Gusto processes both payroll and the related tax payments in one process. It’s all in the bag.
Implementing Your Bookkeeping Automation:
Okay, let’s talk about practical steps for you to implement your bookkeeping automation. After all, having all the resources in the world doesn’t mean a thing, without a plan to go with them.
Organize Before Using Software
For the next step in your automation journey, take a look at the applications you’re already using for your business, such as Dropbox. You may think you know how to best use this application, but with a little automation magic, you can take it even further.
Let’s say you’re looking for a way to organize your invoices—a virtual filing cabinet, if you will. Not only does Dropbox allow you to conveniently store invoices, receipts etc. in folders, but you can also set up a system to save those invoices and receipts that come to you, via email, automatically.
Zapier is a great resource for connecting the apps you already use (for example, Dropbox and Gmail) and bringing them together to automate your bookkeeping. By using what is known as a “Zap” (an automation created using triggers and actions) you can do things such as automatically send attachments to a Dropbox folder whenever you apply a filter to any email in Gmail. Ta-da! This can be useful if you get invoices or receipts via email, and you need to share them with your bookkeeping team or accountant. Organization accomplished.
Xero is also a great example of being able to use an app alongside Zapier. For example, when you mark a project as completed in your project management software, Zapier can automatically create an invoice in Xero with all the relevant information included on the invoice.
Still not convinced? Try using a Zap to add files to Dropbox by simply sending an email, or getting notified in Slack each time a file is added to your Dropbox folders or whenever you receive a payment via Stipe. These Zaps can also allow you to copy new Dropbox files directly into another Dropbox account, making sharing with your accountant easier than ever.
There are so many practical applications, that are just a click away from having your business automated in no time. It’s key not to forget this planning step, on your journey to automation. Not only will this allow you to move forward with confidence and ease, it will give you a strong foundation for building the rest of your automation strategy.
Grab A Friend – AKA A Bookkeeper
The most successful businesses are those that know how to utilize the best teams. Building this team generally means bringing someone on board who can help you manage your financial workload. The bookkeepers at SimpleKeep are an invaluable resource in this area. While having experience and knowledge to take the headache out of bookkeeping and tax compliance, they also work alongside other programs to help you efficiently manage your business financials.
In the end, the key to automating your bookkeeping is being able to bring clarity and confidence along with it. You shouldn’t be hiding from the financials of your business—start out confident and knowing that you have the tools to get your business from point A to B. Tax seasons doesn’t have to be something you dread every year. Let’s make this the year your become more efficient with your bookkeeping and your businesses as a whole!