Low-maintenance bookkeeping: 4 ideas you should try

Headshot for Amanda Graber, Content Marketing Specialist for ComplYant, a business tax tool for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
By Mandy Graber
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Low-maintenance bookkeeping is the way to go. After all, who wants to spend hours and hours pouring over receipts and reconciling balance sheets? Unless you started an accounting business, this probably isn’t how you envisioned your days.

The trouble is bookkeeping is an essential part of running a business. There’s no way around it. Keeping records of your expenses is an important step in claiming deductions. It’s also a major component of managing your cash flow. Fortunately, there is some good news for business owners looking for the easiest way to do their bookkeeping. 

Making bookkeeping more efficient starts with finding a little bit of time to manage tasks more frequently. One of the biggest causes for procrastination is letting dreaded tasks pile up until they feel too daunting to even think about. Instead, dedicating as little as 30 minutes a month can keep your business’s books in order. You can get started with just a few simple bookkeeping hacks to save time. 

#1 - Solid foundation

Give yourself a solid place to start. This tip may be a bit more time-consuming than the others, but it can have major benefits. You don’t necessarily have to start from scratch– and you certainly shouldn’t throw out all of your old records. However, being willing to set up a new method for managing your business’s books can be the first step toward efficient, time-saving practices.

Begin by deciding upon an organizational method that will work for you and your business. Even if you have a bookkeeping practice currently, now is an excellent time to evaluate. There may be new software that can help you keep a clearer ledger. You may want to implement a new organizational system to categorize expenses. This is also a good time to separate business and personal accounts if you haven’t already.   

#2 -  Modern paperwork management

Keeping physical copies of your receipts and documents can cause a lot of clutter, and vital paperwork can get lost in the shuffle. But with everyday applications and simple tools like receipt scanners, you can convert important records to digital file formats. This can make organization a breeze, which helps you stay on track with your bookkeeping tasks.

The first step is to find a system that works for you. There are a few factors to consider when shopping around for the right option for your business and how you want to keep your records:

  • How well it travels - You’ll want to evaluate whatever system you’re considering for its portability. This factor will probably have different levels of importance for you, depending on your business. If you travel a lot, a scanner that’s actually an app on your smartphone might be your best option. However, your business might do a lot of bulk scanning. In that case, investing in a freestanding but less portable scanner may be a necessary expense. 
  • How it works - Having a user-friendly system is important. If you ever have to delegate the task, you’ll want to be able to explain the process seamlessly. It also helps if your scanning process is as simple as possible. Look for scanners or software that can automate most of the job. Some devices can scan multiple receipts at once. Smartphone apps can pull information and generate reports from images you upload.
  • How it stores and exports your documents -  The right system will suit how your business operates. It will also store your documents with enough capacity and in a format that works for you. Some software offers options to convert scanned images to searchable PDFs or to preserve images as JPEGs. Consider what the ultimate destination will be for your documents. Do they need to be archived in the cloud? Will you reference them in different software that requires a certain file format? Or do you need to easily be able to export these files into a variety of formats? Be sure to investigate your options.  Not all software is created equal. Some may lose the ability to capture image detail with certain file formats. 

Once you have an application or tool that works for you, you just need to be consistent. Take a moment to scan receipts, invoices, and documents as they arrive. This prevents them from being misplaced or damaged, and you don’t have to worry about the task piling up–literally.

| Low-maintenance bookkeeping is the way to go. With efficient practices, you’ll save time and stress less.

#3 - Regular evaluation and adjustments

As the wheels of your finely tuned bookkeeping machine turn, you’ll want to check the engine now and again. Every week or so, reconcile all of your accounts by comparing your internal ledger to external balances. Completing the checks on a routine basis will be faster and more manageable. If the balances match, you’re good to go. If they don’t, you should only have as many transactions as your last check to go through. For this reason, you’re also more likely to catch fraud early.

Taking just a bit of time to check over your books routinely can help give you a perspective on your business’s financial health. You can set goals and then easily track those key performance indicators. This can help you project future financials and make decisions and adjustments based on your business's performance. 

#4 - Automated additions

Even using all of the tips and tricks possible, bookkeeping will never be a fully automated task. However, you can consider many options to make the chore as easy as possible. 

  • Use accounting software - Choosing the right software for you and your business is a basic but impactful hack. Consider a platform’s features and invest in what’s important for your business. You might also look into software that offers different tiers of functionality that can grow with your business. 
  • Link your bank account and credit cards - You can save a lot of time and effort by automating the process of syncing up your accounts with your bookkeeping software.
  • Make use of cloud-based technology - Even if your business has the space and budget for servers, you might want to consider the cloud-based alternative. Not only is this technology accessible from anywhere, but it can offer added protection for your records.
  • Automate invoicing and deadline reminders - If you need to receive payments from customers, automating your invoices can be a good step in streamlining your cash flow process. On the other hand, you’ll also need to manage the deadlines for the bills you’re responsible for paying, such as your taxes and other expenses necessary to run your business.   

Take control of your bookkeeping today

Putting your bookkeeping plan into action doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Breaking the responsibility down into manageable tasks is a great way to keep a low-maintenance routine. For more tips about taking charge of your books, check out the webinar Bookkeeping & Accounting Secrets for Small Business Owners

Headshot for Amanda Graber, Content Marketing Specialist for ComplYant, a business tax tool for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
By Mandy Graber
Mandy is a seasoned content creator with experience in a wide variety of industries. She works alongside our ComplYant Tax Experts to help make tax-related content more accessible to everyone. In her long tenure as a writer and content creator, she has covered a wide array of topics, including insurance, education, financial technology, and more.

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