Get Your Books in Order From the Start

by Beverly Taylor
(Toronto, Canada)

Based on my experience working from home so far and wishing I had known this beforehand, my insight to share is this:

Plan a book-keeping strategy before you start so that you are prepared to perform the series of small tasks that will keep you on track and have organized ways to purchase goods and services,pay your bills, organize receipts, etc.

I did not do that, and 3 months into my starting my self-employment, I had a nightmare of a task to do the book-keeping and lost my memory on how I spent some money, and as well had difficulty knowing how to categorize the receipts. As well, I made mistakes involving purchasing and paying accounts by using credit and cash from several sources.

All the while I was trying to attract business and sorting out the books became a huge distraction.

Once I buckled down and organized my whole bookkeeping records and devised plans to simplify the processes and be able to do it in such a fashion that an outside source could make sense of my business as in the federal tax department, then it became a simple matter of maintaining my system.

This brings up another important insight - which is mentioned above in the article, set up a schedule and assign time to repeatedly perform necessary tasks to keep your business on track. Doing it 'willy nilly' will not maximize your efforts for a healthy business. Get rid of distractions and focus on the key areas you set out as your objectives.

I gave up a routine craft discussion board as I did not have time to spend on the forum, and I turned that valuable time into planning strategies to attract business instead, and in one week saw my business improve! Time well spent!

My final tip is to keep in touch with positive reinforcement. Read successful motivating websites and articles that will remind you to 'keep faith and strive for excellence'. It really helps to keep you motivated!

Lisa's Note

Beverly, you are so right about the importance of having a book keeping strategy in place right off the bat. It's very tempting to ignore that aspect of business management, especially when you're first starting out.

I have also had the not-so-fun task of going back over old receipts and records trying to figure things out. It's a lot easier to track expenses properly as you go.

The other good piece of advice I was given when I first started working for myself was to get in the habit of saving some of my income each month so I'd have what I needed to cover what I owed in taxes each year. Since tax laws vary widely from country to country, and they also can vary based on your level of income, the amount each person will need to save will be very individual. It's smart to talk to someone in your area who knows about tax laws and self employment to get a sense of whether you will likely need to pay taxes at the end of the year and how much you'll need to cover that expense.

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