When you’re self-employed, you’re responsible for all your bookkeeping, accounting and tax documentation. If you’re a Solopreneur like me, you probably choose to do it yourself. And maybe, like me, it’s your least favorite thing to do and it often doesn’t get done regularly. I’ll admit – I have gone an entire year and done nothing for myself but print out my monthly bank statements and filed income and expense documentation into appropriate folders. Not a great workflow. In fact, it’s a system that means I spend DAYS (usually at least a month) getting documentation and spreadsheets together for my accountant to file my tax return.
Every year, I begin with good intentions about bookkeeping, accounting and tax time. There’s a list in my head that runs something like this:
ð Schedule monthly time for bookkeeping
ð Enter income and expense data into spreadsheet monthly
ð Save and organize documentation
ð Start getting tax documentation summary for accountant in January, not April.
ð Design a more paperless system
ð Reconcile bank statements monthly
ð Project income and expenses
Each year, I have failed at this list in some way.
For my 2016 return, I made some improvements, but I also fell short of my overall goal.
This year is going to be different. It already is. I pulled the list out of my head and put it down on paper. I scheduled a monthly money date for myself – the last Friday of every month. I’ve organized my receipts by month rather than just throwing them into a box or file to sort whenever I decide to take the time.
But my biggest revelation hit me the other day while driving to an appointment. I was passing by an office where I worked at a nonprofit for several years. I had just submitted my packet to the accountant and was thinking about aspects of my time working for for others. In addition to all the responsibilities of being an Executive Director for a state nonprofit, I was responsible for the day to day administration of all the funds that came in and out of that organization. Guess how I did that?
ð Made copies of every piece of financial documentation
ð Filed documentation and copies into files and a master binder, sorted by month
ð Filed important papers like insurance, tax returns, yearly financial statements, etc. where I could easily find everything.
ð Reconciled bank statement with Treasurer monthly
ð Filed quarterly tax payments
ð Created quarterly financial report for the board of directors
ð Submitted tax info to accountant within a month after fiscal year end
So why do I treat my own company and my own business any differently? Why is my business any less important than any of the other organizations I’ve served?
“I Don’t Love This Task!!” my inner voice cries. “I can just do this at the end of the year! I’ve pulled it off before!”
But I hate doing it in large bunches like that. It feels overwhelming. I beat myself up with horrible self-talk. I feel like I am forgetting something important.
So on a Saturday afternoon when the house is quiet and I’ve committed to a few hours of catch up in my business, I am determined. I can make lists of what I really want, begin to create new habits and design a new workflow today. I can set aside this time I need monthly to do what I need to do. I can honor Bookkeeping Day just like I honor Back Up Day!
I could (not should) honor the day-to-day financial administration of my business just as I honored those tasks for companies I have worked for. I can make that time feel comforting by pouring a cup of coffee, getting everything I need together and keeping that appointment with myself, no matter what.
Maybe I’ll even learn to like it a little more.