Time Saving Accounting Tools & Techniques

How to Save More Time on Small Business Accounting

We’ve all been there. It’s late afternoon on a Friday. You have twelve things to do before closing down your computer for the night yet a stack of invoices looms over your desk demanding to be keyed in before the day is done. You want to just give up.

But we’re here to tell you that there’s hope. We have some tools & techniques that will help you avoid nightmare scenarios like this one.

First, know your systems

I can’t even begin to tell you how helpful it is to understand the ins and outs of your systems. By systems, I mean any software program on your computer or in the cloud that interacts with your company’s operations. 

A few of these systems may include: 

  • ERP System (enterprise resource planning) – this may be SAP or Microsoft Dynamics or anything that records company data such as product names, customer data, vendor information, and inventory records

  • Accounting system – sometimes this is a subset of your ERP system or a standalone accounting program. This is where you would find your chart of accounts, accounts receivable, etc.

  • POS system – if you sell goods or services, you will have a POS system. Sometimes the POS integrates with the ERP but not always

  • Credit Card Processing – this is where you would reconcile credit card payments and look at the reports

  • Microsoft Excel – arguably the most frequently used system, there are few roles within a company that wouldn’t benefit from an advanced understanding of this spreadsheet program

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Remember: this isn’t always easy, but it’s absolutely essential

Even giant corporations get bogged down with system problems. It is extremely common for companies to add software programs as they grow without creating a clear map or long-term plan. Try not to let this happen to you!

Start by identifying your current systems and draw each one in a separate circle on a piece of paper. Then draw arrows showing what programs feed data from which sources. Identify how frequently each system is updated and who is the “owner” within your organization. Make sure everyone in your organization understands this.

I’ve worked at companies where the accounting team didn’t fully understand the POS system, where the IT director couldn’t draw a clear map of the system flow, where the developer didn’t understand how often the web sales were synced with inventory counts – the list goes on and on! Do not be ashamed at a lack of knowledge here – just dig in and start doing some research. You’ll be a pro before you know it.

Second, stay on top of your workflow

This is definitely easier said than done. You’re in a time crunch to get invoices keyed in before the quarter end but you want to make it to your daughter’s basketball game. As a small business owner, you want that flexibility to prioritize family and life outside of work. But it’s a real pain to spend hours and hours and hours on data entry.

Consider hiring a temp. For reasonable rates and easy scheduling, there are many temp workers skilled in data entry to help you with this. A quick online search should find a solution in your area.

Alternatively, hire a high school student or recent graduate. They may have limited hours available but you would be amazed at the difference even two hours after school could make.

Perhaps you aren’t prepared to add another salary to your payroll. You may be the only employee, or you are only able to support a small sales staff. But don’t rule this out without some serious thought. The time this could free up will give you the ability to think strategically about your business.

Third, track your expenses

It’s easy to blur the lines of personal and business when you’re a small business owner. Was that trip to the local store for a new shirt but also marketing materials a business expense? Did you take some money from the till to go down the street and buy a coffee? When that credit card is full and you need to buy a plane ticket, do you grab to your company card? The answer is to keep track of everything. Thanks to technology, there are many easy ways to do this online or with mobile apps that you install on your phone or tablet. 

As with everything in your business, the best way is to stay current. As you make a purchase, log on and categorize it. There are many options available online – try a quick search for small business expense tracking.

By knowing your systems, staying current on your data entry, and tracking your expenses, you will have time and mental space to plan, budget, and execute your daily operations with greater ease.