One of the most obvious benefits that comes with starting your own business or entrepreneurial endeavor is the ability to be your own boss. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA) around 627,000 new businesses open their doors each and every year. While this statistic certainly shows the entrepreneurial mindset that permeates the United States, the other side of the coin is that 595,000 businesses close each year, with about 50 percent of all new startups closing their doors after the first five years of operation.
While being your own boss and the running the show definitely brings some benefits, one of the biggest challenges for small businesses and startup brands is installing effective money management practices. Being disciplined enough to separate your personal finances from the money tied up in your small business can certainly be hard, though this is an essential element for long-term success. Below, we offer a complete analysis of the best money management tools and best practices for small businesses and startups.
What is Money Management?
Money management for small businesses and startups entails the practice and procedures utilized to handle business finances. These procedures can include making and adhering to a budget, creating short, mid, and long-term business goals, following and recording regular expenses and income, and managing other investments. Most of startups and small businesses that fail during the first 5 years often suffer from unsound money management that subsequently lead to periods of negative cash flow. In the first few of years of business establishment, negative cash flow can cause serious adversity, especially for businesses trying to stay on top of payments for a business loan.
Being late on payments, forgetting to collect on accounts receivable, and overspending budgets are just a few of the fiscal and monetary problems that generally tend to affect businesses that don’t install sound money management policies and procedures. Unfortunately, not all businesses have the financial stability to hire a professional accountant to help them deal with the economic aspect of running a business. According to one estimate, accountants usually charge anywhere from $150 to $400 per hour while simple bookkeeping services can easily be up to $50 an hour. These elevated expenses can obviously become a major expense affecting small businesses.
For business owners who, due to economic restraints, are in charge of their own accounting, there are fortunately several money management tools and principles that can be used to simplify and streamline transparent accounting practices.
Top 4 Principles of Money Management for the Small Business Owner
Keeping your business operations running smoothly requires discipline, control, and a bit of restraint. The following four principles to healthy money management can allow you to keep your finances under control.
Keep Close Track of Your Spending
One of the challenges that small business owners face is monitoring the outflow of expenses. When you simultaneously must act as CEO, HR manager, and customer relations supervisor, it can be easy to forget to record certain expenses. Many small business owners have multiple bank accounts for their business which makes it even harder to stay on top of the money you spend. Even the smallest of expenses add up, so it is important to create procedures that make it easy to follow your expenses.
Instead of trying to remember where all your money went at the end of the week or scribbling down expenses on the back of a napkin, learning how to use free, online accounting software, such as that offered by ZipBooks, can make it much easier to keep track of your spending. These easy to use programs allow you to record your transactions to stay on top of your spending habits.
Separate Business and Personal Funds
For startups who need a business loan from a bank, one of the first requirements that the lender will require is that the owner set up a separate bank account for the business. Even if your startup didn’t require a loan to get started, separating business and personal funds is essential for fiscal transparency. Bank statements associated with a separate business bank account are an easy way to track business profitability, double check expenses and income with your own bookkeeping, and monitor spending habits. Furthermore, when you make it a habit to separate your personal funds from your business spending, you will have a clearer idea of how successful the business is becoming.
Monitor Your Employees
Small businesses across the country employ almost 59 million people, making them one of the largest employers in the nation. Unfortunately, not every employee that you hire will share your commitment to helping the business grow and flourish. In fact, employee time fraud strategies such as “buddy punching” has been found to cost small businesses upwards of $373 million dollars each year. This simple payroll loophole can make or break a small business, especially in the economically vulnerable early years.
Businesses who want to avoid employee time fraud would do well to invest in employee time and attendance software that will more reliably and accurately reflect what you spend on your employees. Furthermore, employee scheduling software is another helpful tool that can help business owners discover trends in their employee scheduling, make sure that your business is always well staffed, while also avoiding over scheduling that can also lead to economic losses.
Agile Billing Procedures
Lastly, installing agile and efficient billing procedures can help to make sure that your business never suffers from cash flow problems. Many small businesses are often strapped for cash at certain times of the year, and waiting on payments from clients can lead to economic crises. In the worst case scenario, business owners may be forced into yet another loan in order to cover costs until overdue payments are finally processed and received. Agile billing procedures can help business owners avoid this common headache. Cloud-based billing systems such as FreshBooks can make streamline billing procedures and even increase customer satisfaction.
These four, simple principles of money management can help small businesses and startups avoid some of the most common accounting pitfalls that can negatively affect a company. With several, easy to use software tools, money management can essentially be digitalized to allow business owners to dedicate more time growing the business.