TD Bank recently surveyed over 500 small business owners to find out what they liked least about running their own businesses.
The hands down winner with nearly half the vote? Bookkeeping.
As someone who does bookkeeping for a living, I get it. I talk to small business owners every day and hear the same frustrations over this task and the problems they face in getting it done.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this hard.
The first step in understanding the solution is to figure out what the problem is and why doing the books gets such a bad rap. As it turns out, there are several reasons small business bookkeeping is at the bottom of the list.
The first reason is that most people don’t know how to do it properly. Despite the common claim of “it’s not rocket science” the truth is that doing your books correctly does require a solid foundation of accounting knowledge. Don’t mistake data entry for actually knowing how and where to enter things as that is a fast road to an utter mess.
The second reason is that when people don’t know how to do something well or aren’t comfortable with it, they tend to put it off. Unfortunately, this only makes it worse. Trying to sort out what got spent on what twelve months after the fact is not only frustrating and time consuming but seriously increases the chance of missing something or misallocating it, which can have expensive repercussions.
The third reason most small business owners I know don’t like doing the books is because it doesn’t add anything to the bottom line. Since doing the books doesn’t bring in any revenue, it doesn’t feel as important as other activities. It also isn’t as much fun as coming up with a new product idea or marketing campaign and it is a lot more stressful than just doing some filing or ordering office supplies.
I think a lot of the underlying reason entrepreneurs don’t like bookkeeping is also because they know they should be doing it and sooner or later are going to have to get it done. Unlike many other tasks which you would like to do but don’t get to, doing the books is eventually going to have to get done.
Knowing that causes stress and one of the most frequent things we hear from owners who hire us is that it takes a huge load off their mind knowing it is going to get done.
So what are the options for overcoming this all too common problem? There are several.
The first is to invest some time up front to get the books set up correctly and then get some training on how to do them correctly. Things are a lot less scary and intimidating when you know how to do them right. And the training doesn’t take that long and can be done a variety of ways so it fits your schedule and preferred learning style. There are tons of books, video courses, in person seminars and online tutorials. Some are free and some are paid.
Once you have spent a few hours learning how to use your bookkeeping software and understanding the tasks to accomplish it seems a lot less scary and overwhelming. Many business owners actually find they come to enjoy it and look forward to tracking their progress in business through hard data and actual dollars and cents.
Another option is to task one of your employees with some or all of the work if you have someone you trust and is reliable and detail oriented. That way you get the benefit of accurate and up to date books without having to do most of the more tedious part yourself.
The third option is to outsource the work. There is no shortage of options for having someone else do your books. Selecting a good bookkeeper is the subject of a whole other article, but if you find a good solution than this is often the best option. It ensures you get professional quality service while leaving you the time to spend on growing and managing your business.
The bottom line is bookkeeping is essential to your business. The best way to keep it from being your most hated task it to first learn enough about it so that it doesn’t scare you and then when you can consider outsourcing it to a qualified firm.
I guarantee that if you take those two simple steps you will not be naming it as your “most hated task” next time around. Then you can work on knocking off the next one on your list!
What do you think? Let me know by joining the conversation on Twitter!