Bookkeeping For Entrepreneurs Best Practices

As an entrepreneur, to be honest, is good bookkeeping your priority when running your business? While it is not the most exciting work, organizing records and tracking transactions are essential parts of every business, however small it is. 

What should entrepreneurs know about bookkeeping? Are there simple tips on proper bookkeeping that business owners can follow? 

This article will help you to answer these questions.

Bookkeeping for entrepreneurs: A basic guide

1. Choose a business model

Before having your first books, as an entrepreneur, you should register your business and select a suitable business model that fits your needs. Depending on what you choose, the requirements for filing tax may be different and you don’t want to mess around by being ignorant. Many entrepreneurs start off as the only owners of their companies. Apart from the easy registration procedure, sole proprietorship also allows them to pay business taxes as part of their personal income tax. For those who would like a clear boundary between them and their business to avoid the risk of company debts, a limited liability company or a corporation can provide better legal protection. 

Although in these cases, separate tax filing tends to be a complicated process which makes bookkeeping more demanding with multiple financial documents to prepare, the tax benefits that they offer, including lower tax rates, are among the reasons for their popularity with entrepreneurs.

2. Adopt a suitable accounting and bookkeeping method

For aspiring entrepreneurs who are new to managing finances, taking on accounting and bookkeeping is quite a problematic quest, even to the bravest of all. They need a reliable map that guides them through this adventure. In other words, we can say that finding out an exemplary method for each task and being consistent with it is highly important. When it comes to accounting, there are two options to choose from:

  • Cash-basis accounting: To put it simply, under the cash accounting method, you record what you receive and pay right at the moment the money exchange occurs. It is quite straightforward, so even beginners can try this method to keep track of their business revenue and expenses.
  • Accrual-basis accounting: The timing of recognizing revenue and expenses in the accrual accounting method is not as immediate as in cash basis accounting. It documents revenue and expenses when transactions occur even if cash hasn’t been paid out yet. Since accounting for items such as unearned revenue and prepaid expenses is involved, many entrepreneurs find the accrual method helpful in providing an accurate portrait of a company’s profitability in the long term.

After deciding on an accounting system to stick to, you will also need to ensure you are doing proper bookkeeping. Tracking all business transactions by keeping every receipt and invoice in order is not easy work. But without it, you won’t be able to see the income and expenses of your business, let alone make informed decisions on financial matters. Most solo entrepreneurs may have the first-hand experience of becoming their own bookkeepers, and that’s certainly beneficial in several ways when the business owners acquire some bookkeeping knowledge. However, as their business grows and the bookkeeping workload increases, at some point, they won’t be able to manage it by themselves. 

The best possible option would be to have a full-time bookkeeper. Hiring a part-timer may cut down some fees, but nothing compares to having someone dedicated to the job and who knows your business. If you wish to integrate technology into accounting, it’s a good time to opt for a cloud-based solution. With a variety of accounting services available nowadays that help you to manage bookkeeping online by, for example, linking to your business bank account, you can save so much time on tracking transactions.

3. Track your expenses

One of the basics of bookkeeping is to track all business expenses. It involves developing a filing system for your receipts and financial documents, ranging from tax returns, bank and credit card statements, office bills (utilities, internet, phones, supplies, etc.) to receipts from travel, travel, and business meals. Keeping all that paperwork in place, either by storing its physical or digital copies takes a lot of effort as it is piling up every day. It will be too late to start preparing these records only when the tax season comes near. So ideally, you should organize everything regularly.

4. Monitor payment

As there are many payment options to meet the demand of both payers and payees, entrepreneurs need to develop flexible tracking methods to maintain good bookkeeping. If you are just used to paying by checks and cash and accepting paper receipts, you may need to consider other payment ideas to broaden your clients’ choices.

Credit card and debit card payments are becoming the norm, and we are also increasingly familiar with online payment. Managing all transactions manually will no longer suffice in this digital era, so businesses everywhere are going paperless and automating their bookkeeping process.

5. Know your tax obligations

As mentioned in the first section, tax requirements for each type of business vary based on how you register it. In fact, tax obligations also depend on other factors, such as different state regulations and characteristics of specific industries. Here are some typical taxes that most entrepreneurs will need to cover:

  • Self-employment tax:  If you start out as your own boss, this tax is obligatory because you will need it to pay your medicare and social security fees.
  • Employment tax: Once you become an employer, you are responsible for covering your employees’ Medicare and social security expenses through your contribution to employment tax.
  • Income tax: You can file your business tax as part of your personal income taxes if your company is a sole proprietorship. For complex entities like a corporation, business income tax is filed separately. A limited liability company provides an in-between option where you can choose to pay taxes either as your own or as a business cost.
  • Sales tax:  To collect the accurate amount of sales tax and submit it to the government, you need to refer to how your state of location regulates it. As a rule, sales tax is charged to the end-user of a good or service, so if your business is only part of the manufacturing chain, make sure to obtain a resale certificate to avoid paying the sales tax.

Why bookkeeping for entrepreneurs is important to know? 

  1. To manage budgets

Bookkeeping lets you know where and how much money is coming into or going out of your business. By keeping records of revenue and expenses, entrepreneurs can understand the financial situation of their business and look for ways to improve its overall performance. Specifically, business owners can evaluate how efficiently budgets are allocated at that moment based on past records, invest more in activities that are working well and make necessary changes to those that are not as profitable. Managing budgets and financial planning becomes easier when you have a functional accounting and bookkeeping system in place.

2. To prepare better financial reports

No one can underestimate the importance of financial statements in the business field. Accurate reports can tell your company’s financial health and play a crucial role in the decision-making process that dramatically impacts its growth. If there is a key to creating good reports, it must be the accuracy and reliability of the input data. This is when bookkeeping comes into play as its records contain precious raw data, which is then consolidated and analyzed in financial reports. Entrepreneurs will have to work with the following documents frequently, and even when they are not always supposed to write such statements, they must know how these are created and what bookkeeping records they use.

  • Income statement: The income statement reports the revenue and expenses of a business over a period of time, based on which you can see whether the company is making a profit or how much loss it is generating.
  • Balance sheet: The balance sheet shows details about a business’s assets, liabilities, and equity at a specific time. You will need this report to know whether what your company owns and owes are on balance.
  • Cash flow statement:  A cash flow statement gives you information about the cash and cash equivalents coming into and going out of your business. The cash flow may fluctuate daily, so it requires constant updates on everyday transactions.

3. To get ready for tax season

Keeping all the records organized will make filing your taxes so much easier. With every earning and expense accounted for, the preparations for tax season will go smoothly, and entrepreneurs can rest assured that they are compliant and ready for the visit of the IRS anytime.

Bookkeeping for entrepreneurs: Amazing tips!

We’ve combined some of the most amazing tips on bookkeeping for you right here! 

  1. Create a separate business account

To do proper bookkeeping, you may need to consider opening a business bank account different from your own, which helps you legally separate your business and personal finances. Even if your company is incorporated and you can pay business expenses with your personal account, this adds more complications to bookkeeping and claiming tax deductions. When the line between personal and business data is blurred, it won’t be easy to track the progress of your business and plan for the future. It is expert advice that you should also apply for a business credit card for the same reasons.

  1. Keep all receipts

Not only receipts but also invoices and proofs of all payments are needed to back up the validity of your tax deduction, which helps you reduce the amount of taxable business income. Providing such evidence is not a problem for credit card purchases because you can get receipts and bank statements every month as supporting documents. With cash expenses, the conventional way would be manually recording them in a notebook or spreadsheet while keeping the paper receipts for rechecks. Or you may wish to use an accounting app, snap photos of your bills, and store them safely in the cloud-like what Shoeboxed mobile app offers. Shoeboxed also helps you keep physical copies of crucial documents at your request.

  1. Digitize your financial data

The most apparent advantage of going paperless is probably saving space in your office. A digital bookkeeping system allows entrepreneurs to work more effectively with less paper to store and easily retrievable data. Since a growing number of businesses are now interested in this trend, it may be too late if you persist in the old way and resist changes. However, there are some vital paper documents that you will need to retain for legal purposes. Hence, it is best to keep both physical and digital copies of such records as contracts and licenses.

  1. Pick the right tools

Not many entrepreneurs are trained as accountants, so there is no need to use an accounting system that requires expert-level knowledge to begin. Do some research and choose a program to fit your business needs and bookkeeping practices. Similarly, you should pick the software whose features are compatible with your current system. For example, Shoeboxed’s receipt scanning and expense tracking services are designed to work well with major accounting programs like QuickBooks and Xero. The combination of these wonderful tools will help you finish the daunting work of data entry, categorization, and organization in no time!

  1. Take advantage of professional help

Although entrepreneurs can make do with bookkeeping and accounting to some extent, most businesses will need someone committed to the job if they are to thrive. Find a professional accountant who you can trust and let them be your best business partners. Learn from their specialized knowledge and experience to facilitate your plans. It is not always about financial reports and tax prep; a good accountant can offer insight into the business that helps to guide its development and success.

Conclusion

People say that a successful business should make a lot of money, but that is incomplete. A business can’t grow unless it manages the money earned well. More focus must be placed on adopting good bookkeeping practices. This is not a duty of only bookkeepers and accountants – entrepreneurs should be part of it too, for the sake of their company.

The Beginner’s Guide to Generating Leads Using Twitter Cards

Twitter cards are an underutilized yet highly effective way to generating more leads for your email lists. Here is the complete guide for first-timers.

Many businesses live and die by their email list.

A robust and growing email list ensures you have a steady stream of leads that you can nurture. And nurturing leads is important because, as MarketingSherpa reports, “73 percent of all leads are not sales-ready.” For the majority of those leads, it will take around 10 interactions with your marketing before they’re ready to buy.

And when nurturing is done right, there’s a good chance that a lot of those leads will turn into customers. DemandGen Report says that according to Forrester Research, “Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales leads at 33 percent lower cost.

It’s no wonder growing their leads list is a top priority for small business owners. In fact, 34.1 percent of the small business owners surveyed in our “2016 Small Business Marketing Trends Report,” listed it as their primary goal.

 

Organic social media and diminishing returns

In that same report, 51.1 percent of respondents said they were planning on increasing budgets for digital advertising and social media, with 57.8 percent saying their primary way of marketing their content is through posting on social media.

For the most part, small businesses engage in the age-old Internet practice of posting organically on social media. Unfortunately, the returns on those practices are diminishing.

After running through a series of TL;DR calculations, Contently concluded this about brands engaging in organic social media as a marketing tactic:

For businesses that want social media clicks: At current rates, a brand that has fewer than 1 million followers on Facebook or Twitter is better off paying to promote its best content via sponsored updates than it is paying someone to post social content all day long. And it probably won’t pay off the cost of acquiring followers it already sunk, versus paying just for clicks. As organic reach continues to decline, it will soon be unprofitable for brands with more than a million followers to feed their followings.

So, what’s a small business to do? That answer lies in doing what social media platforms want you to do: pay to play.

One area of opportunity in the pay to play world that you may not know about is Twitter Lead Generation Cards.

 

What are Twitter Lead Generation Cards?

Basically, Twitter Lead Generation Cards are lead generation forms built right into the platform. They effectively replace the need for driving your social traffic to a landing page. And when used right, they can be very effective.

For instance, “Over a four-week period, Webtrends used Twitter Lead Gen cards to drive a:

  • 996 percent increase in leads acquired
  • 500 percent improvement in cost-per-lead
  • 300 percent improvement in cost-per-engagement”

After reading this post on how to set up Twitter Lead Gen Cards, you should definitely check out Webtrends’ post on how they created these results.

Web Trends
Source: Webtrends

As Twitter explains, “Adding Twitter Lead Generation Cards to your Tweets makes it easy for people to express interest in your business without having to fill out a form or leave Twitter. With just a couple of clicks, users can share their contact information with you so that you can follow up with your new potential customers.”

People spend time on Twitter because they want to find new or interesting things, and that includes brand generated content—if it’s interesting and relevant. One of the advantages to paid versus organic social placement is that you can get very detailed about the demo and psychographics you want to target with your posts. This is a huge opportunity to create a lead magnet like an e-book, white paper, or webinar targeted to a very specific audience and then to promote it for lead generation through Twitter using these cards.

 

How to create Twitter Lead Generation Cards

OK, you’re convinced that this is worth a shot, but how do you start? The following is a quick guide on setting up your first Twitter Card Campaign.

Step 1: Log into Twitter Ads

Go to your Twitter profile and click on your picture in the right hand corner. On the drop down menu, click “Twitter Ads.”

Twitter Ads
Logging in to Twitter Ads

Depending on whether you’ve ever used Twitter Ads before, you may have to fill in some set up information before starting a campaign.

Step 2: Start a Leads on Twitter campaign

On the Twitter ads landing page, click to “Create new campaign,” and then “Leads on Twitter.”

Twitter Ads Campaign
Creating a campaign

This will take you to the campaign set up page, which is a four-part process to getting your campaign ready.

Step 3: Name and schedule your campaign

Set Up Your Campaign
Setting up your campaign

The first step is to name and schedule your campaign. Try to be specific and consistent in your naming so that, if you’re running multiple campaigns, it’s easy to know which one is which.

In terms of scheduling, you have two options. You can start immediately and run continuously (until your budget is up), or you can set a time frame. This is especially handy for time-sensitive things like webinars and events.

Step 4: Select your audience

This is where you can make or break your campaign. In the end, your conversion rates will only be as good as your ability to target the right people with your content.

With Twitter Lead Generation Cards you can get very specific. Determine each of these for your audience (it’s helpful to do this before you’re ready to set up your campaign!)

  • Location (i.e., city and country)
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Device types (i.e., iPhone, computer, etc.)—even mobile carriers
  • Keywords that Twitter users tweet
  • Followers, targets the followers of accounts you name
  • Interests, there are a number of categories you can choose from
  • Tailored audiences, custom lists you have as well as retargeting for people who have been on your website
  • TV targeting, retargeting of people who have watched certain television programs
  • Behaviors, these are psychographic targets, such as people interested in buying a first home, etc.
  • Event targeting, people attending a certain event

As you can see, things can get quite granular! Don’t fret, though; Twitter has a number of pre-made terms you can search and use. It just takes a bit of time invested.

The more you can know about your audience, the better chance you’ll have targeting them with the right offer to convert. So it’s worth the work.

Step 5: Set your budget

Here you can set your budgets, including either running your campaign through a daily budget or a total budget. In the first case, it will stop the campaign each day when the budget is hit. In the latter, it will run continuously until the budget is gone.

You’ll also notice that under “advanced options,” there’s a place to change whether you want to automatic bidding or set a max bid for ad placement. Basically, you have to bid in an auction with other ads to get placement. As Larry Kim writes for WordStream, automatic bidding can win you lots of auctions, but will also eat up your budget quickly. Here’s his advice on the two options:

Automatic bidding will make sure your budget is spent very quickly. Sure, it helps you win ad auctions, but you don’t really have to or want to win every auction.

Keep in mind it’s not like search advertising where you’re bidding on rare priceless keywords that get searched on 10 times per year. This is display advertising and there are plenty of ad spots available to buy.

Always use maximum bidding. For most companies doing lead generation, it’s not the end of the world if the lead comes in tomorrow vs. today.

The only time you would use automatic bidding is if you need to promote something heavily and you need those ad impressions today (e.g., you have a 24-hour sale) or if you’re targeting a very tight audience, maybe 1,000 people. In these cases, then you do have to use auto bidding—or just bid really high.

(You might see that Kim also advises against cards since they look like ads and equal less clicks. Obviously, Webtreds [mentioned above] would beg to differ based on their results. My advice, do as Kim did, run tests, and see what performs best for you).

Step 6: Do your ad creation

Finally, you’re to the fun part—creating your ad.

Creating Your Ad
Ad creative

As you can see, you’ll need to have your 140 or less characters tweet ready to go, as well as an image and a call to action. Again, it’s helpful to have these written out ahead of time so you’ve vetted with your team and are simply ready to plug and play.

Another thing to be aware of is you’ll need some things for your call-to-action, including a short description, CTA copy, a link to a privacy policy on your website, and a fallback webpage URL.

Conclusion Twitter Ads
Finishing up your Twitter card

 

Conclusion

Once your creative is done, you’re ready to launch your first campaign! Again, now is the time to do some testing and see what works and what doesn’t. Iterate early and often. Once you find a combination that works well, make a bigger run and enjoy the flow of leads that come through. You’ll be building your list and ready to begin those nurture campaigns, turning leads into customers in no time.

Jake Johnson HeadshotThis was a guest post written by Jake Johnson, who serves as the Sr. Managing Editor for Infusionsoft. Jake works with a team of stellar creators to drive the content marketing initiatives that help small businesses succeed. Entrepreneurial and diverse, Jake has founded two companies, including an interactive creative agency nominated as one of the ten best new agencies in the world by .net Magazine, worked with authors on nearly twenty books, including two New York Times Bestsellers, and overseen the content and creative strategies as an in-house lead with two large non-profits. 

How One High-Growth Startup Uses Shoeboxed to Sustain Their Momentum

Brandon Gaines started Attorney Prime three years ago, and after receiving some big press mentions his business blew up. Learn how this high-growth startup uses Shoeboxed to sustain their growth,

With Shoeboxed, there has never been one “best” way to use our service to stay organized. And after processing over a billion dollars of expense data since 2007, we say that from years of firsthand experience!

Shoeboxed takes enormous pride in serving clients from around the country and across the globe, all of whom use our service in a myriad of ways to fulfill a whole host of organizational needs in both their personal and professional lives.

As attorneys, our product is time, and Shoeboxed helps us save money by saving us time.

-Brandon Gaines

brandon gainesIntroducing: Brandon Gaines

Profession: Owner, Attorney Prime

Location: Austin, TX

Find them: @AttorneyPrime on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Shoeboxed: Hi Brandon! Thanks for taking the time to chat. Let’s start with a little background on you.

Brandon Gaines: Sure! I’ve basically been an attorney my entire life, even though I only became licensed four years ago. Both of my parents are lawyers, so when I was growing up I always worked in their law office. I enjoyed learning the law and talking to clients, and my parents enjoyed free labor. I knew very early that I wanted to be an attorney and work closely with families just as my parents had done.

SBX: That sounds like a solid foundation for you to start your business, Attorney Prime. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 3.43.28 PMBG: Absolutely. Attorney Prime is an online legal services provider that is run and operated by attorneys. We give our clients the full legal experience for a low, flat fee. We help people who aren’t comfortable handling their case themselves and need attorney advice for a low price and with all the convenience of an online service. We started the business in 2011 and went national in 2012, and we’re based in Austin, TX.

A few years ago, a couple of family attorneys and I were discussing the rise of sites like Legal Zoom and other sites that sold court documents. Since family law is so specific to every client’s circumstances, those sites aren’t able to do many types of family law cases that a traditional attorney can. Attorney Prime fills that gap, and allows a client to get all of the benefits of actual attorney advice, as well as the ease and convenience of an online service.

SBX: It sounds like Attorney Prime fills a real need – that’s awesome! We often hear from small business owners that when they start their business, they try to handle all the paperwork themselves. Was that the case for you? When did Shoeboxed enter the picture?

BG: Yes, we basically just scanned all of our invoices, receipts and business reports and kept them in files on our computer. That worked okay when we first started out, but after we were featured in an article on Huffington Post, our business blew up within weeks. We immediately realized our hackneyed system needed a significant upgrade and fast. Enter Shoeboxed.

After we began to get a little press, our business basically blew up within a few weeks. We were bursting at the seams with receipts and invoices with no easy way to handle that amount of volume, and we found and integrated Shoeboxed about that time. This all happened about seven months ago.

SBX: Cool! It’s amazing what a bit of press can do for a business. So how does Shoeboxed fit into your daily workflows now?

BG: Everything goes into Shoeboxed. Everything. We love the Shoeboxed Receipt & Mileage Tracker app. So when we run business reports, along with the tally from Shoeboxed, we are far more efficient and accurate on our business projections. As attorneys, our product is time, and Shoeboxed helps us save money by saving us time.

SBX: Do you use any other features of Shoeboxed you’d like to share?

BG: Yes, Evernote is the big partner app that we use with Shoeboxed. Since every client case is different, and requires its own attorney notes, photos, and other work material, Evernote, working alongside Shoeboxed, is irreplaceable.

SBX: Awesome! We’re big fans of Evernote too. So what’s changed in your business since starting to use Shoeboxed?

BG: The level of case volume we have now, compared to before we integrated Shoeboxed, is so much larger it is difficult to quantify exactly how much time and money it has saved us. Suffice to say: we wouldn’t be able to manage our receipts without Shoeboxed.

SBX: Well, we are honored to be able to help! Any other benefits you’ve found?

BG: A major part in our business growth, which means bringing in more attorneys and clients, is that our infrastructure is dependable. If we were still using a file system for our records, it would be impossible to grow since our system couldn’t support it. With Shoeboxed, we have yet to see any limit to how large our business will grow.

SBX: Wow, what an awesome endorsement – we’re blushing! In closing, what’s your number one piece of advice for other small businesses to get organized?

BG: Get organized before you actually need to get organized. Our previous file system worked fine for low volume, but when our work volume exploded overnight, we were completely helpless due to the unexpected demand. If we had planned for success, and used Shoeboxed even at the low volume, we could have avoided that problem altogether.

SBX: Fantastic. Is there anything else we didn’t cover here that you’d like share?

BG: We primarily use lawyer-targeted services because of the unique needs of attorneys. Shoeboxed is so flexible, it fits our needs better than even the serviced tailored for lawyers. Because of that, I have to imagine Shoeboxed would work within any industry.

SBX: We strive to suit the needs of our customers no matter what industry, and we’re thrilled that you’ve found us as a solution that works for you. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Brandon!

Are you a Shoeboxed user who has a success story and would like to be featured on our blog? Then we would love to hear from you! Please reach out to Emily at emily@team.shoeboxed.com for more information.

Until next time, stay tuned… and stay organized!