business bookkeeping

How to motivate yourself to do your bookkeeping (secrets from a bookkeeper)

Bookkeeping Adelaide How to motivate yourself

You lean over and turn off your computer after a full day of work. You feel relieved that another day is done. Your mind turns to what you’re going to have for tea and whether you’re going to need anything from the supermarket. Then out of the corner of your eye you spot a couple of receipts partly folded and starting to fade that are placed precariously on top of a pile of other papers. Sigh….you still haven’t done your bookkeeping. Another day has gone and you didn’t get around to it like you promised yourself you would. Again.

If you don’t run your own small business, this scenario might seem a little trivial. It’s just entering a few dates, names and numbers, right?

Well I’ve lost track of the number of small business owners that have confided in me how bad they feel about being behind in their bookkeeping and how much it’s affecting their personal life and business life.

This is what I hear a lot:

“My partner is getting frustrated with me because I don’t know my figures”
“My tax return is overdue and I’m sure I’m going to get a big fine that I can’t afford”
“I’m sure I will need to register for GST soon, but I don’t know what my income is. It’s really worrying me because I know I have to do something about it soon”
“My business coach keeps asking for my figures – but I don’t know them”

Now you would think I’m going to tell you that you should outsource to a bookkeeper or buy this new, beaut software. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is to genuinely share methods that small business owners can use themselves, in order to gain the motivation to get their bookkeeping done. These methods are what I use myself when motivation is low, or overwhelm is high. They are not expensive or difficult and I’m sure that if you use even a couple of these methods, you will get your bookkeeping done or at the very least make great progress.

1. Use a timer

This can be an online timer, your watch, or even try an old-school method. Set the timer for a short period of time – 40 minutes is fine. Commit to 40 minutes of bookkeeping only. Smash it out and feel great about the progress you just made. Maybe that’s enough – you’ve achieved what you set out to do. Turn off your computer and forget about it for today. Now maybe the time went quickly for you and you feel you’ve got another 40 minutes in you. You’re on a roll. Go off and step out into the sunshine for 5 minutes or make a cup of coffee to reward yourself. Go back to your computer, set the timer for another 40 minutes and smash out another 40 minutes of bookkeeping.

2. Work somewhere different

If you’ve got a laptop, move it out of the office to the dining room table. Or move it from the dining room table to the bedroom. Personally I would have difficulty working outside, but if that works for you, then go for it. Go to the library (I get phenominal amounts of work done when I work from the library – however it’s usually business development work and not accounting, as I don’t want to risk others accessing my accounting information because I’m using a public internet connection). Go to your parent’s house. Book a once-off day to work from a co-working space. Just change up where you’re working from, because sometimes just the thought of sitting down at that same spot that you’ve already spent hours at can be depressing.

3. Treat yourself

Buy snacks for yourself that you wouldn’t normally buy – specifically for bookkeeping. Treat yourself with something nice, so that sitting down to do your bookkeeping is a positive experience.

4. Do smaller amounts often

Now you might not realise that this is one of the reasons you put off your bookkeeping. But if you’re only logging into your software or opening up your spreadsheet every few months (or even longer), then you’re probably forgetting how to do a lot of it. Decision fatigue is a thing! If you have to keep stopping and deciding what to do next, or are trying to remember how you did something last time, then you’re wearing yourself out without even realising it. By doing it more regularly, everything will stay fresh in your mind.

5. Eat the ugliest frog first

This has been one of my most helpful business mantras since I discovered it about 5 years ago. If I’ve lost you here, check out Brian Tracy. I’m thinking bookkeeping might be your Ugliest Frog. So eat it first!! Practise a bit of tough love on yourself and do your bookkeeping before you do anything else that day. You can even try getting up 40 minutes earlier, for the sole purpose of getting bookkeeping done. The rest of the day will feel SO good for you that the decision to then get up and do the same thing the next day will be even easier. Your day will flow a lot better and you’ll become much more productive in general. You can use this concept for anything in your personal or business life.

6. Listen to music

Motivate yourself to do your bookkeeping with music


This seems a bit obvious, but how often do you actually make the effort to put on music while you work at your computer? Or if you are doing your bookkeeping first thing in the morning, have music on while you’re in the shower before you start. Similar to the special snacks you treat yourself with, you will start to look forward to doing your bookkeeping because you’ve made a fun ritual for yourself.

7. Start tracking your monthly income

This doesn’t need to be fancy. Start writing down your total sales each month. Each time you get another month’s bookkeeping done, record somewhere separately what that monthly sales were. Some months it may be less than the month before – that’s okay. You just motivated yourself to kick butt that bit more in the next 4 weeks. Some months it will be more than the month before – congratulations! Something you’re doing is working – the proof is in the numbers. It’s quite addictive once you start tracking your numbers – you will find yourself automatically motivated to get your bookkeeping done.

8. Just turn on the computer


In my early 30’s I used to run a lot. There’s a trick with runners to keep motivation up – they say just to “put on your sneakers”. It really works. Once those runners are on, it’s that much more easier to just step out the door and do your run. Do this trick with your computer. Get up and turn it on! Before you get dressed. Before you make your coffee. Before you check your phone. When I have a particularly overwhelming and large client job to do, this (oh so easy) tip works every time.

9. Positive mindset


I know it’s easy to get into the mindset that bookkeeping is boring. Bookkeeping is pointless. Bookkeeping is hard. Or thinking “numbers aren’t my thing”. Well I challenge that mindset. You’re not going to love everything in business – if it was easy, then everyone would be doing it and doing it successfully, right? Having a positive mindset helps in all areas of your business and personal life. You can choose to keep thinking bookkeeping is horrible – and continue to avoid doing it – and continue to beat yourself up over not doing it. Or you can choose to re-frame your thinking around it.

For example:


I can’t wait to get that 40 minutes of bookkeeping done, because then I’ll be on track to get my tax return done early this year. Gee that’s going to feel good.

I feel like my sales are up this month – I can’t wait to check my income spreadsheet to see if I hit $5,000 in sales finally.

Woo hoo – another month’s bookkeeping done. Time to hit the pub.

Okay – so these might seem a bit corny, but you see what I mean. Your bookkeeping is what you tell yourself it is. You get to choose your attitude.

Why would a bookkeeper share these tips?

I don’t mind sharing these tips with small business owners. There will always be business owners that don’t want to outsource their bookkeeping. There will always a point in time when it makes sense for a small business owner to do their own bookkeeping. When it’s time to outsource – it’s time to outsource. The cons of doing it yourself will outweigh the pros and you will (probably with relief I’m thinking) hand it over to a professional bookkeeper.

In the meantime, I just know there’s a tip or 2 above that you can implement straight away. My wish for you is that you no longer feel bad about being behind in your bookkeeping and get to experience that feeling of relief that comes with being up to date very soon!

Happy bookkeeping….

Sarina

About the author.

Sarina Abbott is the owner of Festival Bookkeeping. She’s a registered BAS Agent and Xero adviser who has previously worked in the legal and conveyancing industry, as well as for registered training organisations. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her husband, 2 sons, a dog and a rabbit.

You can find out more about Festival Bookkeeping here.

You might also like:

New Employee Checklist

Secretary black and white
A good checklist from the ATO website if you are small business owner thinking of hiring a new worker.

Takes you through all the things you need to establish upfront, for example “Is your new worker an employee or a contractor” (a hot topic with the ATO at the moment) and “What are your record-keeping requirements”.

 

Link to ATO website:  Hiring new staff

 

Other suggested blog posts:
Find me on Instagram:  Festival Bookkeeping

Find me on Facebook: Festival Bookkeeping

 

Happy bookkeeping…

 

Thinking of hiring an employee?

Black and white photo female workers

 

“A lot of small businesses are mum-and-pop owned businesses who don’t know about minimum wage rates.”

Do you agree with this? I was watching a TV show recently and one of the panelists was using this argument to justify why some small business owners are paying their employees less than the minimum wage. You may have come across the big story that broke late last year about some 7-Eleven franchisees in Australia paying their employees well below the minimum rate (as well as other illegal practices).

If you are thinking of hiring an employee for the first time, or if you are hiring your 2nd or 3rd employee, there are no doubt a myriad of things you need to work out first.One thing you will need to consider isAs at the date of writing, the national minimum wage in Australia is $17.29 per hour and $656.90 per 38 hour week before tax. Casual employees covered by the national minimum wage also need to receive “casual loading” – an extra amount paid to compensate for lack of benefits such as holiday pay.

These are the rates that apply to an employee not covered by a specific award or agreement. For information on specific Awards you can find all you need at the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

These rates change all the time – when working with online payroll students I was constantly updating course materials to keep up with the changes.

It’s great to check Seek.com to figure out the going rate for a particular job, or to ask fellow business owners for advice, but you still need to make sure that what you are going to offer your new employee is at least the minimum rate or higher.

Are you thinking of taking on employees? Have you looked around the Fair Work Ombudsman website?

Happy bookkeeping…

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 3 most popular posts of 2015

My 3 most popular postsPosts about not-for-profit bookkeeping have topped my list of most viewed posts of the past year.  Followed closely by my more general bookkeeping posts.

In case you missed them (or would like a re-cap) here they are:

  1. Not-for-profits – 6 Ways Your Bookkeeping Differs from Other Organisations
  2. What Does a Treasurer Do?
  3. 4 Common Bookkeeping Mistakes

Thanks for your support throughout the past year.  I’m looking forward to providing more information and insight into not-for-profit and small business bookkeeping in 2016. Hope you can come along for the ride.

Happy bookkeeping…

 

 

 

Tip for Small Business – Better Cashflow # 2

Phone call business

 

 

 

 

You may have read my previous tip on improving cashflow in your small business, found here Better Cashflow # 1. I have another idea you can easily implement in your small business to help boost your bank account and have more money available when you need it.

It revolves around the following fact:

The sooner you contact an overdue customer, the more likely you are to get paid.

So improve your chances of being paid on time by having a collections policy.

A collections policy is basically deciding on the steps you are going to take when a customer hasn’t paid their invoice by the due date and putting those steps in writing.

For example:

  • Invoice 1 week overdue. Send a friendly reminder by email
  • Invoice 2 weeks overdue. Phone the customer. Discuss why overdue.
  • Invoice 3 weeks overdue. Phone the customer. Discuss payment plan if needed.

You can still be flexible and use your judgement on a case by case basis. But overall you will lay down the framework for what action to take and when. You set aside time on a regular basis to sit down and work through outstanding invoices – you make it a priority.

An important part of your collections policy is to keep track of who you have contacted and when. This helps whether you have an in-house bookkeeper, outsource your bookkeeping or whether you are responsible for your own business accounts.

You will find that over time your customers will start to pay you sooner. If they need to decide what invoices get paid this week, you are more likely to be at the top of their list.

You are not being rude by following up outstanding invoices – you are simply a business owner running your business in a professional manner.

You can find more helpful tips on customer invoicing in Keeping on top of customer payments and also 14 Cashflow Tips for Small Business

Have you run a report lately to see how much your customers owe you and how overdue those invoices are? How much more cash would be in your bank account helping to cover your own expenses if those customer had paid on time?

 

4 common bookkeeping mistakes (re-visited)

I was reading back over my previous blog posts and thought this particular one may be helpful to the small business owners and non-profits that follow my blog. It covers some key bookkeeping concepts that can easily be overlooked and can cause some real headaches if not picked up.

Hope you can find something useful in it…

4 common bookkeeping mistakes

 

Bookkeeping Tip – Queries for Accountant

Question MarkI just had to share this bookkeeping tip – it’s too good to keep to myself.

If you use Reckon for bookkeeping, you’ve no doubt used the “Find” feature at some stage to track down a past transaction. It’s quick and easy to use and I couldn’t do without it. Ctrl + F are the shortcut keys.

But just using the Find feature isn’t my tip.

Do you have transactions throughout the year that you aren’t 100% sure you have entered correctly and that you want your accountant to have a look over before your financial reports are finalised? Perhaps you have some GST transactions that you want your BAS Agent to look over before they prepare your BAS?

Well when you enter those transactions simply type “??” into the memo field. When it comes time to meet with your accountant or BAS Agent you simply use the Find feature (Advanced tab) to search for those transactions and generate a report. You can either print this off or memorise the report so that your accountant or BAS agent can simply click on each transaction and be taken straight to it.

No more having to stop and write down your queries on scrap pieces of paper or scrambling to remember what it was exactly you had trouble with throughout the year!

I can’t take full credit for coming up with this idea. It’s a gem of advice I picked up when I recently attended a Reckon workshop that I wrote about in my post So I attended a training workshop today.

For more Reckon tips you can read my previous post 4 Reckon Features to Save you Time.

Happy bookkeeping…

How a Business Plan Can Help You Run Your Business

Source: How a Business Plan Can Help You Run Your Business

I came across this great post from Katiesfavors. It gives a good overview of business plans and how they can be utilised by different types of organisations – including not-for-profits.

Hope you enjoy.

 

So I attended a training workshop yesterday

Adults in trainingIn the morning I tell myself to just be cool and relax – enjoy the opportunity to be out and about rather than at work doing my usual thing. Lunch and snacks were included, which is always nice!

Of course I didn’t really relax as I was focusing so hard and trying to retain all the new information and make extra notes. Making sure I didn’t miss an opportunity to ask questions along the way. Never mind…that’s just the nerd in me. Maybe next time I will relax more!

But really the point of my post is to remind everyone of the importance of attending training. Here are some of my top reasons:

Knowledge is power
I enjoy study – whether it be classroom based, online, webinars, reading books or blogs. Even if study wasn’t your thing when you were younger you now have so many opportunities to extend your skills and don’t have to face assessments or assignments if you don’t want to. Day workshops such as the one I attended yesterday are a great opportunity to take your business to the next level or to give yourself that extra bit of confidence to take the next step in your business or career. If your workplace aren’t willing to pay for your course then still be sure to let them know you are taking the initiative to further your skills and knowledge on your own, which will no doubt benefit them as well.

Challenging yourself
It is easy to stay in your comfort zone as you go about your day to day work. But if you want to progress in your work or business life then inevitably you will have to start taking on little challenges. You may do your job really well and the thought of having to be taught something new can make people feel a little uncomfortable and worried that they will say or do something silly. However the fact that you have acknowledged there is plenty more out there to learn and you don’t know everything can be liberating!

Motivation and Inspiration
If you are a freelancer, work from home or are a solo business owner you may spend a lot of your time without the company of others around you. When times get tough and you are wondering whether you would be better off just clocking in and out of a 9-5 “regular” job it can be hard to keep that motivation going. Just the act of getting out and amongst other people with similar interests to you can spur you on and help bring back the spark. Lunch breaks give you a great opportunity to talk to new people…you can make new business contacts, discuss problems you are facing or share things that work well for you. Often the trainers have many years of experience in their field and their enthusiasm for their subject alone can have you walking out the door brimming with new ideas and motivation.

So I hope I have convinced you to book that workshop you have been thinking about, or signing up for that new online course.

Happy bookkeeping…