But software can be very expensive, especially professional programs.
What software do you really need to have to propel your business to new heights and how can you obtain it without costing an arm and a leg?
Well, let me tell you a few ideas I’ve gathered through experience as a software junkie!
Here is one you absolutely must have!
I know this is obvious, but it may not be as obvious as you think. After all, some people are still operating in the stone age of ledgers done by hand. I know my husband’s boss does this! Every year, we wait while he prepares the W-2s by hand!
When I first worked for The Navigators as a graphic designer, I was amazed that all the records were kept the old fashioned way! It was one of my first big projects–to create a financial system for our internal ad agency!
These days, there are many options available. The industry standard is Quickbooks. Peachtree or Sage is another outstanding product. AccountEdge is an excellent program made for Macs. Excel or Numbers is extremely helpful for business expenses and income. I love how they have templates so it’s easy to create what I need!
If you are a freelance artist or a contractor, you will want software that includes estimates or quotes. A built in database of your customers is very important, too.
There is also software for keeping track of cash flow. This is very important, both in your business and personal life. Many of these software programs help you keep track of cash flow, as well as help you keep and maintain a budget.
You can also get apps for your smart phone or tablet. This is very handy to have, especially if your business is mobile. You just need to make sure you are disciplined enough to use it!
The best software is one that you will use on a consistent basis. You want to set up a system so that keeping up with your books is automatic.
I like to keep it simple, and for that reason I use iBank. It directly correlates my business expenses with the tax code. It also has an app for my iPhone so I can make entries on the fly and then sync it with my desktop. I try to download entries from my online banking service at least once a week.
This is tedious work, so often I will watch Netflix while I catch up with my banking!
Robust reporting is extremely important. I have mine set up where every quarter I can press a few buttons and presto–I am ready to create my sales tax returns!
Plus, I love that I can attach receipts to each transaction. My goal is to be completely paperless so I don’t have to worry about stacks of paper being buried on my desk!
But where do you get this software? It can be as simple as going to OfficeDepot. The Internet is full of accounting software that you can directly download. Or if you want to get an older version to save money, you can always find something on eBay or Craigslist. But be careful! You don’t want to end up with a pirated copy!
If you use a bookkeeper or tax accountant, these programs make it very easy to share your numbers so returns can be produced.
Every year, I print out a summary of our income and expenses and we give it to our CPA. I put the receipts and statements and pertinent tax information in an expandable, portable file, labeled by category. That way, if he has any questions, I can just pull a receipt out.
If you have employees, you may want to consider hiring a staffing administrative services company. I can’t imagine the complications of having to keep the books in that scenario!
The Bible says to “know well the conditions of your herd.” I think in today’s terms, that means we need to know what we’re spending and where our income is coming from. It means we need to keep accurate records of our inventory.
After all, we as business owners are stewards. Be faithful in a little, and you will be given responsibility for more! If you are not faithful in this area, could it be that is why you are experiencing roadblocks to your success?
Financial accounting is not something I am naturally good at. Learning how to use financial software has helped me grow in this area tremendously. It’s something I strive to get better at every day!
Because I want my brand to sizzle and my future to dazzle! How about you?