Is your Accounting Software just feeling like MORE work?

Is your Accounting Software just feeling like MORE work?

Do your accounting tools provide the insights you need? 

For many business owners, the bookkeeping and accounting side of things is a necessary evil. I mean, it’s great when you can send out a bunch of invoices and log a bunch of payments because that feels really concrete and means you can keep things going for another day/week/year. Huzzah! Yet, the process of keeping things up to date in your accounting software can seem really daunting.

While you know, intuitively, that the numbers in your business should be able to give you some valuable information, it isn’t always obvious how to generate that data. The process of understanding your books, your cash flow, maybe even be able to run a few projections would be super valuable…but how do you accomplish it all? 

In many cases, unless you have an amazing bookkeeper or accountant, or an advanced business degree, you’re likely relying on your accounting software and/or a few spreadsheets to accomplish this. But how do you know you have the right accounting program for the job and are you using it to its full potential? There is a large variety of programs out there, many of them in the cloud and super convenient, things have come a long way. 

Some options for Accounting Software:

If you’re just starting out, have a fairly simple business model, or don’t want to be overwhelmed with data right now there are few more simple options out there. These might sync with your bank data, allow you to create invoices, accept payments, and add expenses. This will generally mean you can generate a Profit & Loss Statement and a Trial Balance, which is often what you need to file taxes. These also will allow you to track unpaid invoices, and generate an Aging Report so you can follow up with those who still owe you money. Some examples might include Freshbooks, WaveApps, or even have some great features that help you keep track of many of the daily functions you’ll need.

For more robust and traditional accounting software, you’ll likely hear about Quickbooks Online or Xero. Quickbooks has been a small business standard in the US for quite some time and is likely familiar to most accountants which is a plus. Some other contenders are Netsuite and Sage which add some automation functionality to their feature list. There are lots of options available and provided the software you choose generates the data your accountant needs, you’re all set. 

So what features do you need? 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help determine which software options may be the right fit for your business.

First, a few things you should always look for: 
1. Create single and recurring invoices and be able to apply payments and credits.
2. Track your expenses and be able to categorize them for your P&L and Trial Balance.
3. Sync your bank account to more easily track your transactions, but make sure you have the ability to approve/match transactions (or you can easily end up with lots of double entry)!
4. Basic reporting like P&L, Trial Balance, Aging, Customer statements, Accounts payable reports, etc.
5. Sales Tax reporting and functionality

Some more advanced features: 
1. Bank reconciliations – if you have a lot of transactions/payments, this is a must to ensure you are capturing all activity that hits your bank account.
2. Advanced Reporting – Previous year/period comparisons, custom reports, and more.
3. Visualization of Data – cash flow, income and expense data can be so helpful to see in charts and graphs. 
4. Audit logs – if you have more than one person handling your data this can be immensely helpful so you can track down changes and potential errors. Also useful if you’re solo but can’t remember when/why you made a change.
5. Journal entries – a way to use double entry accounting to make adjustments to your books that are otherwise exceedingly complicated.
6. Deposit reports – so useful if you deposit checks / credit cards in batches and need to go back to adjust or track something down.
 7. Inventory tracking – this is usually an advanced feature and not available in more simple accounting software. 
8. Payroll – this can sometimes be found in simpler software but worth double checking the features.


 Make sure your accounting system can help your business grow.


If you start off with a more simple option,make sure you’re taking stock of where you want to be in the future. It’s not overly complicated to switch systems as you go, but if your business is growing, it may feel like more trouble than its worth. However, if your accounting system isn’t providing functionality and requires a huge amount of manual entry, double checking, and a huge shuffle every few months to do your taxes at year-end…then it may not be doing its job very well at all.

Put some thought into the functionality you’ll want and need in a few months or years time and see if having those features now is really that much more expensive than the lesser option. If you’re talking a few extra dollars a month to get everything you may need? It might be worth it to start with those functions up front and give your self room to grow. 

Also, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by technology, especially when it is in an area of business that is not your strength. If you’re finding yourself easily frustrated and having trouble making things work, see if you can find someone to help evaluate your business and the software you are using to help problem solve. Perhaps the software isn’t the right fit or perhaps you aren’t aware of some functionality that you could use to make things more efficient.

 The goal should always be to make your business run smoothy and not draw your attention away from the things you enjoy and what bring in your revenue. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need some clarity, it is worth taking the time to learn more before getting too frustrated. Keeping your books up to date and easy to manage can make a huge difference in your mental state and the financial success of your business. 

Looking for some clarity with your books?

If you’re still struggling to make sense of all this, let’s talk. Hopefully a little insight and strategies will help get you on the right track and let you get back to building the business you love.

Choosing the Best Customer Management System for your Small Business

Choosing the Best Customer Management System for your Small Business

As previously guest posted on Honestly Able

As business owners, customer management is the name of the game.

Whether you run a brick and mortar business or an online one, getting to know your customers and making sure they’re taken care of is likely your highest priority.

For many of us, the first step in tackling this challenge is a Google session or getting some recommendations from friends and colleagues. Unfortunately (or fortunately), no two businesses are alike and often the needs of one don’t necessarily line up with what you’re looking for. More often than not, you’ll end up with a ton of new websites to check out and immediately get overwhelmed by the vast number of options and customizations that are available. Before long, you’re seeing dollar signs piling up and you’ll quickly price yourself out of your first few choices and want to throw your hands up in exasperation. Sound familiar?

Before you dig in, there are a few things you’ll want to think about:

  1. What is your single most important MUST HAVE requirement for a customer management system? Beyond recording customer details (names, addresses and phone numbers, notes etc.), do you need an all in one system to track work orders, invoicing and payments? Are you looking for something specific to your industry?

For me, I needed a way to track customer details and conversations from start to finish and work with our accounting program. In a straight CRM, this can be a very costly endeavor. However, once I narrowed down my search to “business management systems”, I found more choices that were within my budget. Some of the enterprise level companies just aren’t cut out for small business and that’s ok. Just make sure you don’t overpay for the features you need when a smaller, lesser known company might be a better fit. As an added bonus, a smaller company is likely to be more willing to listen to your feature requests and make sure the product keeps you happy!

  1. What are you willing to pay? Do you need something free for now and scalable in future? Many solutions are paid monthly or on a subscription basis, so it’s easy to add/remove features as necessary. There are also a number of free solutions that you can pay to add additional functionality or integrations like bookkeeping software, scheduling, inventory management, etc.

I really thought a free solution was going to be the way to go for us. I found one that I could tailor to do about 75% of what we needed and thought I could add the rest with integrations. Yet, I kept coming across the same roadblocks and when I jotted down the things I was compromising on, they were the same things I’d listed in step #1…the must-haves. Instead, we found a great solution and compromised by not adding all of our people at once to help keep costs down. Not everyone is very tech savvy so a few employees were going to be hard sells anyway. This way, we keep everyone happy AND keep our costs from skyrocketing. As we prove the benefits of the system, we can add more accounts as we need them.

  1. Start small. If you’re not sure a  paid solution is exactly right, ask for a demo. Many offer demos for a certain length of time and will often extend them if you ask nicely. Arrange some time to let them show off their features too, you never know what you might discover that could be useful to you.

More often than not, you’ll want the company who goes the extra mile to prove that their system is right for you. Chances are, they also don’t want customers who will constantly complain because they can’t make things work properly for their business. A good company will give you some leads on other programs that you could try if they feel theirs isn’t the best fit.

  1. Still not sure? Try out some task management or communication programs first and get your system in place before you move forward.

Long before we paid for a solution we went through a variety of other “systems” as we honed in on our process. There are lots of fancy programs out there that seem amazing, but if they aren’t intuitive and easy for you to use…you won’t use them. Start out with a spreadsheet (heck, we started on paper *gasp*), a Trello board, an Asana checklist or maybe just a Slack conversation. Figure out what you need to track and how it makes sense to track it. Do you have multiple steps to your customer interactions? Do you need to exchange information with another program in order to invoice/email customers? What information are you constantly typing over and over as you move a client from a potential customer to a fully paid, happy customer? This information will be invaluable as you start making your list of Must Haves for your future customer management system.

Bottom line, don’t sell yourself short. Stick to your Must Have items and keep looking for what you need. It’s out there, even if you have to spend some time trying a few other solutions before you hit on the right customer management system for your business.

Struggling to a CRM that FITS your business?

Are you struggling with choosing a customer management system for your small business? Feel like you’re spending too much time managing your current CRM? Download my worksheet and make sure your systems are working FOR you, not making you work overtime to keep your company moving forward.

What is Slack and Why You Should Care? Collaboration…Optimized

What is Slack and Why You Should Care? Collaboration…Optimized

Is there anything more frustrating than sending an email to a team member and then waiting for them to get back to you? How often do you find yourself doing “busy” work until that crucial bit of information finds its way through the email servers and back to your desk? Remember that email exchange you had with a colleague a few months ago that outlines something useful for your current work? Well, good luck finding it.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

With email, we’re constantly assuming we got our point across but how often have you reread something you sent only to circle back and realize you didn’t ask the whole question?

Enter Slack

I know what you’re thinking…do I really want to learn another online platform? Let me assure you, if you can handle email, Facebook or old school messenger apps like AIM or Trillian…you can handle Slack.

Slack is a super easy way to keep teams in the know with minimal fuss and bother. Here are my favorite features and some suggestions on how to utilize them:

Ps: Slack has awesome help files so I won’t recreate the wheel here. Keep an eye out for helpful links!

Slack is a huge leap forward in collaboration! Everything is in ONE place.

    • Connect Your Team – Once everyone is signed up, you can easily see who is online and who is away. Give your team permission to be “away”! No one can get any work done if they’re constantly interrupted, so make some time for focus and deep work. Direct messages are a quick way to directly chat with someone but channels are where the magic happens.
    • Choose Your ChannelsChannels are like topics or themes. You start off with #general and #random but can easily add more to suite your needs and designate who has permission to access them. For example, you might want a channel for each project, team, financials, recognition, suggestions, and more. I’d advise that you keep it simple and slowly let it evolve as your team gets moving. Every time you feel like you’re performing an action one too many times…it’s likely a good idea to think about how you can move that information more efficiently.
      • The Magic – The beauty of channels is that everyone can see what’s being discussed. This is a huge leap forward in collaboration. Wondering how best to manage your projects? Think about all of your texts, emails, PMs, DMs, memos, forms, to-do lists, support tickets, calendar events, faxes (yes, they do still exist), post-it notes and more…all in one place. So often, we feel like we’re working in an isolated state but think how much more effective we can be if our questions, notes, insights, and ideas are spoken about openly and with multiple perspectives? Suddenly, new insights are pouring in and a new perspective might just change the way you are thinking about your project.
    •  Access Important Files – Slack integrates with Google Drive and much more, but you can also pin those files within slack so they’re within easy reach. If you’re working on a project and constantly reaching for the same few files, pin them to the applicable channel and they’re good to go. No more emailing the files to new team members or sifting through massive amounts of emails for those documents you’re sure someone sent you. It’s also super simple to share directly within Slack and create checklists, bullet points, outlines and code snippets (if you’re into that).
      • Search and you shall find – Not only does Slack store all this great stuff, it’s super easy to search and find whatever you are looking for. You can also filter the search so if you’re a bit hazy on the details, chances are you can still get to the information you need.
    • Notifications  – Don’t be afraid to CUSTOMIZE! Everyone has different thresholds for the white noise. Set a few ground rules so that direct @mentions shouldn’t get ignored, but in general, you can likely let your team create their own notifications. There are some easy ways to alert everyone and we’ll get into that next.
    • There’s a Bot for That – Firstly, get to know Slackbot. You can set it up to answer many common questions (wifi password, who do you send expense reports to, when is my timecard due, when is quittin’ time). Make them fun and specific to your team or just keep them simple. Beyond Slackbot, the sky’s the limit. Need a bot to take coffee orders? How about a quick office poll? Want to track your todo list? There are tons of integrations with other software like Trello, Jira, Mailchimp, Analytics and so much more.
    • Integrations – Not only is Slack an awesome tool for the reasons mentioned above, but you can also bring integrations into play and really up your game. Whether you want to streamline invoicing and accounting or schedule social media there are tons of ways to meet your needs. Slack allows you to bring all the information you need to run your business to ONE place. Think about that for a second. That’s HUGE! As someone who values having everything at her fingertips,everything you need to run your business in ONE place.

Like with any good tool, you need to think about how Slack can be used effectively. Write down your top few hurdles and start with those. Get some team members to give suggestions and input. If the ideas seem sound, TRY IT OUT. What have you got to lose?

Make a plan and don’t be afraid to adapt as you go.

Create a quick, easy to use guide with your organization’s current Slack practices pinned to one of your main channels (and prompt Slackbot on where to find it too!). That way, all users have an easy way to see what’s new, what’s working and what ideas have become defunct. Encourage new ideas by offering a small reward for ideas that are implemented and successful for your team. Don’t worry, there’s a bot for that too.

Want to figure out how Slack can help your business?

Online tools are amazing, but I totally get that it can seem hugely time consuming and overwhelming to get them set up. Let me help walk you through it and figure out how to harness the tools to work FOR you, rather than creating more busy work.

How to Build your Knowledge Base as Painlessly as Possible

How to Build your Knowledge Base as Painlessly as Possible

What do you think when you hear “Knowledge Base”? I don’t have time for that! Sounds like a lot of work for very little benefit. My team has higher priorities than that right now. Maybe once things slow down…

If you’re not familiar, a knowledge base is simply a repository for all the information you need to run your business. Onboarding a new client? Hiring a new receptionist? Finishing up a project and need to review everything that was completed? As business owners, these types of scenarios are extremely common and they can eat up a ton of your time. Most of this knowledge is stored in your brain and is theoretically available any time you need it. But what happens when you need someone else to share to load? Or worse, what happens when you bring on a new client and halfway through the project realize you forgot a crucial step?

Mistakes happen. Heck, if you’re building a successful business you’re bound to make more mistakes than wins. Instead of spending your time searching through your sent items for the latest client onboarding email, why not have a central depository where all this information is stored for when you need it? With a few simple steps, you can set yourself up to create your knowledge base and gradually add to it over time.

Choose your weapon: G-Suite (Google) is an obvious choice because it’s free, accessible from anywhere and has a ton of functionality. Office 360, Apple iCloud, CRM programs, Trello, Asana, Slack, Wikis or intranet site are all great options as well. The trick is, pick something that you use almost every day to begin with. If you’re not using it currently or have no future plans to incorporate it into your workflow, chances are…you won’t succeed.

Brainstorm your Structure: This doesn’t have to be a time suck. Just take a few minutes to think about the things that drive you crazy or take up the most amount of time. Email templates, Checklists for common projects/tasks, Customer Interactions/Upselling, Marking/Promotional Material, Employee Job Descriptions/Manuals to name a few. Chances are, if you’ve been in business for a little while, you already have working versions of many of these. Make a list of the overarching categories and create some folders to correspond to these. Don’t worry too much, this can evolve over time as needs change or you learn more about how you want things organized.

Add your Content: If you can dedicate some time to this at the beginning, amazing. If not, don’t panic. Just add as you go. The trick is, setting yourself some sort of trigger so that you remember to add the content when you’re finished with it and happy with the end product. Sent an awesome customer welcome letter? Add to your Email Template folder. Whether you do this in the moment or set a reminder for yourself at the end of your work session to review, it doesn’t matter. Just keep on reminding yourself to check in with your knowledge base and keep it current.

Reap the Time Savings: There’s no question that good organization can be a huge time saver. When you’re running the business, you want to spend the least amount of time on the busy work and get back to doing what you love. Whether that’s speaking directly to clients or spending time with your family, the better your knowledge base the easier those goals will be to achieve. Then, the next time you’re wondering how you vetted your last vendor you can pull up your handy checklist and be confident you have all the questions you need answered at your fingertips.

I’m not going to lie. This process can be somewhat time consuming. Yet, not only will you save yourself time in the long run, you’ll also be unconsciously honing your business practices and finding ways to better your business thriving and your customers coming back for more.