1. Hire a bookkeeper
Small-business owners normally take more roles than they can handle, for instance, as manager for accounting, sales and marketing all-in-one, in order to save on salaries. At times though, getting a full-time or part-time bookkeeper might be the better and wiser option as the task requires a deeper and more extensive understanding of accounting books. A freelance bookkeeper can help you save on salaries more as you pay only when you actually need the service. Nevertheless, the U.S. Small Business Administration can likewise help you manage your expenses on your own to save even more. Or you can avail of free accounting software from GnuCash.org and do it yourself as efficiently as others might do it.
2. Separate your accounts receivables and borrowed funds
This seems obvious; but many fail to practice this simple step. Small-business owners require financial assistance to cover their start-up capital or operating expenses and other initial business expenses. Make sure you use software that does not incorporate income with your loan proceeds.
The goal is to always know what belongs to you and what does not. Unlike magnets, positive and negative funds do not attract or mix. Keep your eyes on the former (Be Positive!) in order to cover, that is, remove the latter.
3. Follow-up on clients who have payables
Receivables look good on paper; but they are useless until you have them in your bank account. Make your clients pay regularly, as much as possible. You can enforce this by not delivering materials or services until outstanding balances have been settled. Your personnel in charge with collection have to stay firm and uncompromising in order to keep your business viable.
4. Itemize your daily expenses for the coming weeks
Detailing your expenses on a daily basis (taxes, professional fees, advertising, utilities, etc.) will help you become more aware of what is happening in your finances. That is the role that accounting does for business. So, instead of the bi-weekly computation of salaries, daily or weekly itemized expenses will let your budget ahead more accurately and prepare you for any unforeseen expenses or deficits.
5. Determine a reasonable monthly profit
It takes great effort and patience to operate a business and to maintain a proper accounting system. Develop an efficient accounting strategy which will monitor your expenses and payables in order to compute for an acceptable minimum income on a monthly basis. Stick to that minimum profit target for your business. Once set, you can concentrate on what needs to be done to achieve that goal on a regular basis.
These are tried and tested steps any beginning small-business owner can put into good use. A simple, well-maintained and practicable accounting system is all one needs to learn the essential tricks of the trade and grow from there to more fruitful gains.
Many of us have that recurring nightmare of being in Accounting 101 class in college on the last day of the term for the first time — and it happens to be final-exam day! You suddenly wake up sweating and panicking and realize you have never been that good in your own financial accounting. You feel like the unfaithful servant to whom the master says, “Give an account of yourself!”
Dreams have an uncanny way of mirroring life. Perhaps, there is a way to change reality by making our dreams more to our liking. In my friend’s case, he never had an Accounting unit his entire student life; so he went on to change his dreams by reading and studying about Accounting and Finance until he gradually overcame his financial woes.
Here are 5 tips (or principles) he shared to start having a practical and efficient personal financial discipline:
1. Have a budget
This is essential! No matter how little money you have, having a budget is a must. But if you do not have money at all, there seems to be no sense in having a personal budget. Wrong! Zero is the least money you can have. If you do not have a budget, then you will never have practice when you get some money eventually. Truth is, we all have some money, no matter how little; and knowing how to manage your money is a vital habit every person needs to develop.
2. Start with how much you need, not how much you have
For years, my friend made a yearly money plan starting with how much he needed to support himself and to implement his projects. After many years, he finally found enough income to rent a decent apartment, buy appliances, travel more often and start living his dreams (and reduce his nightmares). Being positive, especially during those times we are really down, is not mere pretending but practicing a lifetime of hopeful anticipation. As they say: Dreams are free; so, get dreaming!
3. Next step, obviously, is to have a realistic budget
Having a workable budget can often be depressing. (This is when you really need optimism!) Workable means allocating as much money for all essential expenses. You know you will need some more money to fill in the deficit and sourcing it is part of the Accounting problem. Realistic, ironic as it may sound, means figuring in what you need to overcome your deficit. This may mean a lot of waste of time; but it is an exercise in optimism and practice for the fat years ahead. The next step further explains what realistic means.
4. Every budget must include a deficit budget and a plan for filling the deficit
A plan for sourcing out the money you do not have is the best part of a personal budget. It draws out the creative juices hiding within you. It could be that business plan you have had for years for a small venture that will give you the impetus to go ahead and take out a loan and do it finally. Or, you can take an extra job to raise the funds you need for the needed capital. Work your plan.
5. It is all about discipline
Little or much, money is all about stewardship of something we do not own ultimately. People who presume too much and think they can do whatever they want with money lack the discipline and are not qualified to teach others who need budgetary discipline. And those who do not have enough money and think the same way will have a hard time acquiring the discipline they need to get over their financial problems.
Discipline is ultimately about perseverance and seeing our dreams come to fruition by the day.
Counting money and using it wisely, whatever is there left after all the necessary expenses, is a primary human activity most people still need to handle properly. And even those who have much of it have so many obligations they probably have more nightmares than those who know next to nothing about Accounting.
In the end, losing sleep over money is counterproductive. And so is losing money because you lack sleep. It is always better to be content with what you have and strive to be happy over other things money could not buy for money does not guarantee us happiness or peace.
A happy budget, remember, is one that you make because you are happy to be alive and have enough to last till the next pay day.