For many small business owners, one of the most difficult parts of the operation is keeping up with the financial end of things. Not only are there daily numbers to worry about, there’s also tax liability, insurance, and employee salaries. If you’re more of an ideas person than a finances one, it will be even harder for you to keep up with all that data and turn it into something that makes sense.
Fortunately, there are several simple things you can do to stay on top of your business’s goals and income, but it starts with getting organized. That means having the right files, computer software, and office management to keep everything tight and easy to access. Once one thing becomes messy, several more will follow, until you’re left with a huge, overwhelming problem to deal with right before tax time.
Read on for some of the best tips on how to be financially savvy.
Have a cushion
Just about every business sees spikes and dips in cash flow, because several factors change from season to season, including trends, an influx of extra money (after income tax refunds, for example), and a need to spend (such as holiday shopping). It can be difficult to get through those lean months when business starts to slow down; for many retail stores, January and February are the worst times for sales because everyone is shopped out from the holidays. For these times, it’s important to have a cushion in the bank that will ensure you don’t have to struggle to scrape by.
Get professional help
One of the easiest ways to stay on top of your responsibilities is to ask for help from a pro. Have an accountant go over your books and ask for help with tax advice in accordance with the laws in your particular state, as they can vary. Don’t try to do everything yourself, even if it is cheaper. Laying out a bit of money now will ensure there are no nasty surprises down the road. For more tips on how to set a budget and maintain it, check out this article.
Keep everything separate
It’s imperative that you keep your business and personal accounts separate, especially if you work from home. While owning and operating a home-based business can be beneficial in many ways, it can also make it much more difficult to maintain a system for your finances that doesn’t allow them to merge. Make sure you get receipts for every single business transaction, as well as invoices and contracts, and make copies of everything. Never use the company credit card for a personal purchase, and vice versa. Failing to do this could gain you some unwanted attention from the IRS. For some helpful information about how to have a successful business at home, read on here.
About those personal accounts…
You may need to keep everything separate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give your personal accounts some attention. Open up a retirement account and, where possible, set up automated payments for your bills so you’re never late on a payment. While this will mean you have to keep a close eye on your bank account, it will keep your credit score nice and fat.
Running a small business is no easy feat, and it takes a lot of planning and hard work. Just remember that if you’re working 70-hour weeks to stay afloat, your business will really suffer should you need to scale back at some point. Work out a more sustainable model in order to get the most out of your business.