Finding the Right Solution for Your Bookkeeping Needs You're not in business to do bookkeeping, but you're not in business without it, either.

By Garrett Baird

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As a small business, you don't want multiple systems taking care of your bookkeeping, invoicing and financial documents. Perhaps you create your invoices in spreadsheets or word-processing documents, eyeball expenses in online banking and maintain your employee records in an HR folder in the cloud. Some data may be in a file hosting service, while others are password-protected locally on your computer.

It can be confusing to others who may need to work with those documents — and for you to lose track of what is where. When you need that information come tax time or for a loan application, you may need to reference those scattered documents. That can take forever to find, and there's a real risk of losing data or even using the wrong data.

If you've yet to encounter any serious errors or problems handling your own bookkeeping, you may be tempted to maintain the status quo. However, your financial organization needs will continue to grow more complicated as time passes. Your business may grow wildly, multiplying the number of things to track and complicating your routine. Or, if you haven't been paying much attention to bookkeeping, you're probably tempting fate.

Related: Five Bookkeeping Tips for Business Owners

To address your needs, you could hire a bookkeeper to organize and track all of your business finances. You could also hire an accountant to organize and track your business recordkeeping.

Or you could have all your files, invoices, transactions, bank accounts, customer payments and credit cards flow into one easy-to-use financial management system. Such a system saves time by automatically parsing through your documents or receipts. You can scan and upload everything to a central digital location, capturing essential information without ever having to think about it. No spreadsheet does that on its own. Such a system would be automatic and uncomplicated, instantly searchable on all content and would make it easy to analyze information and make decisions based on that analysis.

Gartner, a technology research and consulting firm, examined process automation in accounting and discovered that 89% of general accounting tasks were highly automatable.

Such a system would organize your data while reducing or eliminating the time you spend manually entering data. It would make it easy to identify discrepancies in your records without annoying and time-consuming searches in physical files and journals, spreadsheets, documents and boxes of receipts. Most importantly, you'd have a clear picture of your business — and financial control while spending the least amount of your time bookkeeping.

Seek the ideal solution

Several providers offer automated solutions for financial management, available for both desktops and mobile apps. They simplify the process of organizing and automating your small business bookkeeping, including invoicing and document management.

Look for cloud storage for your financial documents, which reduces clutter while boosting efficiency. It's especially helpful when files can be scanned or captured on a mobile device and uploaded to the cloud.

There, the documents are processed and reconciled, and you can even generate reports instantly.

Related: How Entrepreneurs Can Manage Their Business Finances With Success

Automated invoicing that creates and tracks your branded invoices and receives payments is another capability that should be of interest to you. Offering your customers electronic payment options speed your time to cash significantly with no more trips to the mailbox or bank branch. And, if you link to your bank account and credit cards, your transactions populate seamlessly while providing you reports on money in and money out.

Some platforms offer bank-level security, as well, with all data encrypted in transit and stored in secure databases. Another great feature you can find with financial management software is the ability to securely share files and comment on documents with the accountant who does your taxes without the need for large email attachments.

When selecting a financial management platform, look for one whose all-in-one solutions for small teams and sole proprietors don't require extensive accounting knowledge. Live customer support and setup assistance would be a great plus, too. You and your employees will save time and energy while automating the production of critical financial documents that require analysis like P&Ls, cash flow statements, balance sheets, and expense reports. If the platform enables your data to be searched, having all your data quickly accessible and generating automated reports will mean you'll spend less time entering data or running down receipts, invoices, and bank statements, and more time growing your business.

In the end, one solution — without spreadsheets and accordion files — means that you can spend less time managing your books. You're not in business to do bookkeeping, but you're not in business without bookkeeping.

Garrett Baird

President and CEO

Garrett Baird is president and CEO of The Neat Company (Neat). He joined the company in 2020 to lead its entrance into the digital accounting space, helping small business owners spend more time growing their businesses while transforming mundane bookkeeping into actionable insights.

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