Monday, October 29, 2007

The Joy of Bookkeeping

October has been the month of QuickBooks.

I'm learning how to keep my business's books and all the component parts included with that responsibility: setting up the chart of accounts; viewing and reading reports; customizing invoice templates; and creating the record-keeping systems that will help me track my profitability, sales, and inventory.

Because the extent of my knowledge about QuickBooks, accounting, bookkeeping, and business reports could fit in a sandwich baggie, I planned on hiring professional help to get me up and running when I launched my new businesses. I wanted to be trained and at a conversational--if not fluent--level of competency by the time we were done. After all, I'm the CEO of one company and the sole proprietor of another. I should know my books like the back of my hand.

With a $2,500 budget for my first year's accounting expenses, I expected to be able to get the training and set-up I needed, plus my first year's taxes. Since I'm only going to be open for business for two or three months of the entire fiscal year, it seemed like plenty of money.

So in August I had a junior associate at my financial firm come and spend two hours with me setting up my chart of accounts--which she did incompletely. A week or so later, I opened a business bank account and in September I had to write my first check. Stumped as to how to enter my equity contribution and bank information into QuickBooks, then how to write a check, I called my firm and spoke for 20 mintues with another junior associate about how to complete those tasks.

Then last week, I received my first bill from my firm. It's more than $1,000.


At this rate, the $500 online course from Intuit sounds like a bargain.

But I'm a hands-on learner, not someone who retains and integrates information gleaned from a computer screen. Reading about the nuances of double-entry bookkeeping on a white window doesn't sound wise knowing my learning style.

It was time for a new strategy or a new accountant! I opted to seek less expensive help from someone who could walk me through the basics of QuickBooks and save the financial firm for tax time.

I reached out to Richard Witherspoon, of Witherspoon and Heath business consulting. My friend and fellow business owner had introduced me to Richard several months ago and I was impressed at the time by Richard's knowledge of IT systems and QuickBooks. How I wish I had begun my QuickBooks learning curve with him first!
For 1/3 of the price tag, I've been able to spend several hours with Richard setting up my systems and operations. Without fear of what it will cost me, I've been able to ask questions. What's even better, he's given me written, customized, step-by-step instructions. If I forget what we did together, I have typed notes from him after our session.

A god-send!

Plan A sounded good and looked good on paper, but like every part of my business plan so far, the reality didn't match the paper image. Thanks to Richard's help, however, I'm likely to stay within my budget, and even more importantly, I'm ready for business.

No comments: