“Start Where You Are. Do What You Can. Use What You Have”
– Arthur Ashe
Do you avoid going into your office because of its sheer overwhelm? You are not alone! Here are some actionable tips to take control of your paperwork in an afternoon.
Pre-work planning helps lessen the burden of the data entry procedure if you're a bit behind on your bookkeeping and ready to get caught up. There are two main reasons to gather all your financial documents – First, having them on hand will make doing your bookkeeping and taxes much more accessible. Second, if the government decides you’re the lucky subject of an audit, you’ll need them ready and organized to back up your numbers.
You might’ve been shoving all your receipts into that hypothetical shoebox over the course of the year, or they might just be all over the place. If you’re overwhelmed by the task, start here.
Set up a physical filing system. Our first step is to create a folder system for organizing papers. You probably have physical/printed paperwork lying around and (a lot on the computer, too - don’t worry, that’s next.) The goal is to get all your paperwork sorted quickly to reduce overwhelm.
Start by sorting by year and then each year into consistent categories that make sense for your business processes. Don’t think about it too hard; it can always be adjusted.
Perfect is the enemy of good.
Here’s an example of some broad categories:
Banking: Savings, Checking, Paypal
Liabilities: Credit Card #1, Equipment Loan, Vehicle Loan, Line of Credit
Assets: Vehicle, Equipment
Income: CC Processor (IE: Stripe, Square), Etsy, Customer Receipts (Can further sort these as necessary)
Expenditures: Office Expenses, Product Purchases, Job Expenses, Rent, Contractor Payments (Can be sorted further by name if necessary)
Payroll (If applicable): By employee name, IRS File, State File, Workers’ Comp, Benefits
NEXT, Set up a virtual folder system to organize your digital documents.
For your digital receipts, emails, and all the stuff on your computer, we suggest having your virtual system mirror your physical system. As you find receipts and important financial files on your computer, you can move them to these folders. You can “print to PDF” any emails you want to save.
It’s also critically important to have a backup system or to save these folders to your Google Drive, iCloud, or some cloud-based system in case your computer’s hard drive ever fails.
FINALLY, Print or download copies of all your bank statements and file them.
Log into your business bank account, credit card account, PayPal (if that applies), Square/Stripe, and go through your account. Having monthly statements from all of these accounts creates easy documentation to confirm your transactions (or enter them.)
We get used to knowing that these big companies save our data, but there’s just no guarantee that it will be accessible when we need it. Banks often only go back 18 months in your online record, and calling and requesting older documentation is a hassle. (Ask me how I know!) Best to have it under your own control.
NOW, Take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back for a job well done - and start saving those receipts in your new system!
With this project under your belt, you are ready to tackle the next step in getting your bookkeeping up to date. We're ready when you are!
Always ready to jump in where you are,