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Three major benefits of updated bookkeeping and accounting records

February 21, 2019

Last week in a discussion with a business coaching client, I asked if she had updated bookkeeping and accounting records that would help her make the best business decision for a big question about her business. “No,” she replied, she didn’t have updated books. Without them, any decision regarding product lines, pricing or customer capacity is just a guess!

Guessing is not the way to run a business. On the contrary, every business big and small should have regularly updated bookkeeping and accounting records so business leaders can make the right decision with a foundation in the data. Follow along to learn three big benefits of keeping your bookkeeping and accounting records updated on a regular basis and some tips to get you started with your bookkeeping for your business.

1. Strategically ladder-up your revenue

As a freelance writer for my primary income, one of my biggest goals is finding the best clients that offer me the most significant return on my time invested. While freelancing is a business that is tough to scale, I like to do something I call “laddering up” my clients where I climb up and add new high-quality clients while letting go lower- quality and lower-paying clients as they are replaced.

This process is great in theory, and most freelancers and business owners understand the concept. But why do they continue to struggle with low-quality clients? Because they don’t look at the numbers and objectively look for ways to bring on better clients and get rid of the bad ones. With no metrics, you might not even know which clients are draining your resources and which lead to the best profitability in your business.

A few months after quitting my job to go full-time online, a look at my own updated bookkeeping records showed that about 76 percent of my income came from writing while around 15 percent came from website development and support. That is a clear 80/20 rule example. I cut the 15 percent of my income that was taking way too much of my time and my total income roughly tripled over the next few months!

2. Cut underperforming products and services

The focus of my conversation with the coaching client focused on turning her services into a product she could sell for a fixed monthly subscription rate. But with no detailed accounting records beyond the reports she gets from her payment processor, she didn’t have any real records to show her income by customer or product. It doesn’t matter if you are a solo freelancer or a business with thousands of employees, you absolutely need this information!

With the right details in hand, you can pick out the one product that sucks away too much of your time for too little money. You can identify expensive recurring tasks you may be able to outsource or eliminate. As you can see from the example above, sometimes cutting underperforming products or services can lead to significant growth.

Success in this area of your business comes down to focus. But without properly updated bookkeeping and accounting records, you don’t know where to focus. You might be wasting hours and have no idea because you don’t have the data. End that big mistake right away. Get those accounting books together and keep them updated, at least monthly, so you can make the best management decisions.

3. Save time and money at tax time

If increasing revenues and cutting costs were not enough motivation to keep your books updated, here is one last lynchpin: your taxes. You have to do taxes if you have a business. That is not optional. What is optional is making it a stressful period by ignoring your accounting throughout the year and rushing to get it all done in April before the deadline.

Instead of this method, plan and keep your books updated at least once every month. I go a little over what most people need and update my accounting records weekly. But whatever you do, quarterly should be the bare minimum for bookkeeping updates for tax purposes.

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