Starting a business is tough and the costs seem endless. Before you decide to cut costs by skipping a high-end accounting setup, you should know that a basic bookkeeping system doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. In fact, many basic systems are free and will get your new business started on the right track.
Business Checking account: Keeping your business finances separate from your personal finances is crucial for many reasons. It helps you keep your business expenses organized and makes year-end tax preparation much easier. Many larger banks have minimum balance requirements to avoid service charges. By opening an account at a local bank or credit union, you can avoid those minimum balance requirements and monthly service charges. If you don’t have a local branch to deal with, you can also investigate one of the many online banks. The No Bull Checking account at SmallBusinessBank.com is completely free but still allows for unlimited transactions, online bill pay, mobile deposits and a debit card for the account. AllyBank, EverBank and eFirstBank are some other options to check out.
Wave Accounting: I’m the biggest cheerleader that QuickBooks Online has and I live in it all day, every day. Even so, I recognize that not every business is ready to pay a monthly subscription for their accounting apps. Until you’re ready to move up to the awesomeness that is QuickBooks Online, I recommend Wave Accounting (www.waveapps.com). This app will allow you to create and send professional invoices, track expenses and even sync up to your bank account. When you’re ready to accept payments from your clients, their payment integration is seamless and affordable. There is really no excuse to be using a spreadsheet or ignoring your bookkeeping when Wave is available!
Receipt Storage: There are dozens of options for storing your receipts and other important financial documents, including that old shoebox in the corner. Rather than risk the loss of your receipts from fire or flood, look into some of the many online storage options available out there:
- For the Wave user, Receipts by Wave is an obvious choice. This free app uploads receipt data to your Wave Accounting app. Receipts can be captured with your iOS or Android phone, uploaded to the Wave web app, or forwarded via email. Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Receipts by Wave will read your receipt for date, amount and payment account. You can edit the information, if necessary, then verify the information. Once verified, the transaction is created in Wave and you’re done! At any time, you can export your receipts to archive them outside of Wave.
- Hello Receipts is a free app available for both Android and iOS that includes mileage tracking, as well. Professional looking reports are what sets apart Hello Receipts from the other apps I’ve tested. Their detailed reports available as a PDF or Excel spreadsheet.
- If you are an Evernote user, storing your receipts is a piece of cake. Whether forwarding to your Evernote email address, using an IFTTT recipe, or just snapping a picture and adding it to a note, there are many different ways to get your receipts into Evernote. Once there, they are searchable and secure.
Registrations: Lastly, take advantage of the free resources available in your community. Your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) can help you make sure you are registered for any required business licenses or local taxes. In the process, they can provide free business consulting, low-cost training and assistance in obtaining loans and grants.
Bottom line, don’t use your limited funds as an excuse to skip your bookkeeping! Setting up your business bookkeeping doesn’t have to be expensive and you’ll save a ton of time and stress by doing it from the beginning!
Do you have any questions I haven’t’ covered? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think!
Deb Howard Greenleaf, EA, CEO and Principal, of Greenleaf Accounting Services provides virtual accounting and bookkeeping services and specializes in financial management to consultants, coaches, solo professionals, and other small business owners across the US. Deb is an Enrolled Agent (EA)—an IRS-licensed tax professional—and specializes in small businesses and entrepreneurs filing Schedule C or as an LLC. As an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Deb spends her day in QuickBooks Online and specializes in providing QBO support.