For many of us creative types, nothing is harder than keeping the financial side of our business organized. I use QuickBooks which helps somewhat (as long as I remember to do it!) but I’ve discovered that installing a program on my computer just isn’t enough. You actually have to learn how to use it. One day, at the end of my rope, I called a good friend who happens to be an accountant and begged her to come over and share her knowledge with me. Much to my surprise she agreed! It turned out that I wasn’t really doing as bad of a job as I had thought I was. Most of my problems seemed to stem directly from two areas, not having a good organizational system for all my financial documents and, even worse, a lack of confidence in myself and my ability to handle anything involving numbers. This was really quite amazing to me, considering how well I cope with the constant rejection associated with being a full-time writer.
Here are some organizational strategies that have worked for me:
- Buy a large binder with tabs. Label them neatly in categories like phone bill, Visa bill, bank statements, checks received-you get the picture. File documents there as soon as you receive them. Do not let them build up on your desk or “temporarily” put them somewhere or you’ll end up wasting a lot of time trying to locate them. Nothing is more frustrating than sitting down at your desk to attend to your finances and having to spend half the time you set aside trying to figure out where you left your bills or receipts.
- Do your bookkeeping in one fell swoop! Don’t let yourself get distracted from your task unless it is a real emergency (i.e. involving blood!) The satisfaction you feel when you hit the “reconcile” button and it works will be well worth it. Schedule a certain time to do QuickBooks, for example the beginning or the end of the month, and try to stick with it. Like blogging, once you let yourself get out of a financial routine, it’s hard to get back into it.
- If you need help, ask for it! You can always return the favor by doing some free writing services for the other person. It’s usually best to find a “coach” that isn’t related to you and that can explain things in language a fifth grader could understand.
Remember if I can do this, so can you! If you have any good QuickBooks tips to share, please pass them on!