Tips for Successful Bookkeeping for Your Small Business
If you want a successful home business, then you need to be successful at bookkeeping. It is crucial for long-term business success. The latest report from the Small Business Administration revealed a sad fact: 12% of all business failures are due to bad bookkeeping. Retirees developing their home-based business should understand the importance of bookkeeping. Keep track of your cash or die.
It is not complicated. Follow these 8 simple steps to ensure successful outcomes:
- Use the Cloud: There is no reason not to use the “cloud” (off site access by the internet) for your bookkeeping needs. The cloud is safe, and you won’t have to worry about your location to have access to your books. Plus, there is a lot of automation that works well with the cloud-based bookkeeping options available today.
Working In My Home Office
- Hire a Consultant: Even if you don’t want to hire a full-time bookkeeper, hiring a consultant to help you get your accounts set up correctly and develop a process will save countless hours and dollars. A home-based bookkeeper will understand your business and develop the process that is right for you.
- Keep Personal and Business Separate: One big mistake many business owners make, especially home-based businesses run by retirees, is intermingling personal and business money. Set up a schedule to pay yourself, and don’t touch your business account otherwise.
- Make Plans for Big Expenses: You may have large expenses to cover. Examples of home-based business expenses include:
- Software Expense
- New equipment expense
- Inventory expansion expense
- Home office expense
- Automobile Expense.
Plan your cash outlays for the year and set aside a little cash each month and you’ll never feel the pinch. My father often told me, “Make a lot, save a lot. Make a little, save a little.”
- Save Money for Taxes: Your accounting software lets you know how much you should be setting aside to pay the IRS. When you get the estimate for your quarterly taxes, set that amount aside monthly instead so that you can make the payment painlessly. Avoid Uncle Sam’s wrath by planning to pay the taxes.
- Audit Your Invoices and Accounts Receivable Regularly: One of the problems with lack of bookkeeping skills is forgetting where the money is. Many businesses fail to realize the money that is missing from your bank account is in your accounts receivable. Keep a sharp eye on your invoices by determining clients who haven’t paid on the account. Don’t let the account go beyond 30 days unless you know the client is good for the debt. Old unpaid invoices will not help you pay your bills.
I had a client who failed to pay me after sending them three invoices. I provided them with a website hosting service and a domain name. We set up an annual fee with a defined due date. I sent off the first invoice and heard nothing. Two invoices later, and no return telephone calls and emails regarding their interest in continuing my service, failed to generate a response. I took the website down 90 days after the official due date. I assumed they didn’t want it and could not be bothered to contact me. So I took the website down and they responded immediately.
Sometimes you have to be tough and follow through with your unpaid receivables. Without a good record keeping system, I would have forgotten about this account. Today, I try to charge a minimal fee every quarter to keep my service from being forgotten or ignored. Beware of the deadbeats seeking charity at your expense.
- Never Use Cash: It’s very hard to keep track of cash, and it is a terrible idea to use it. The risk of fraud is greater with cash transactions due to possible forgetting to book it, and losing receipts. It is safer to use a debit card or credit card so that you’ll have a duplicate record.
A good example of the difficulty in tracking cash is the company petty cash account. The office staff used it as their personal bank. Whenever they needed money, they helped themselves to the cash and wrote a bogus IOU. I discovered this when the office staff kept requesting that I replenish the account. The bookkeeper and the Office Manger left the company and the petty cash account was abolished. We got along just fine without a petty cash account due to the development of the “cashless” banking system.
- Double Check Entries Weekly: Even when you have automated booking of income and expenses with your accounting software, go into your software at least weekly to ensure that everything is working. When you are the sole person in your business, a monthly review may be sufficient.
Once you know where your cash is flowing through your books, you can make better decisions affecting your business. The books will let you know what’s coming in, what’s going out, what is working well, and what areas you need to spend time solving problems to ensure a smoothly running business.
I found a good book for understanding bookkeeping for Home Businesses like ours. It is written for the small business owner in mind with examples likely to affect you. Darrel Mullis is able to make dry concepts into enjoyable lessons that can be easily applied to your business. Click here for the Accounting Game: Basic Accounting Fresh from the Lemonade Stand by Darrel Mullis.
How to Develop a Successful Nail Art Service After Retirement
A unique and fun retirement career, working from home, is to start a manicure service. If you have a license in cosmetology, or are thinking of getting one, you aren’t limited to working in a salon. Many retirees are now looking for a more relaxed manicure experience. It’s a big market, with over 76 million Baby Boomers retiring at the rate of 10,000 people every day. Who better to serve them at home than a retired baby boomer?
You can serve them by starting a manicure service in your home or a traveling manicure service to your customer’s home. The start up cost to set up your business is minimal and the investment will yield great rewards, both monetarily and in establishing friendships.
7 Initial Steps to Setting Up Your Business
- Most states require that you complete a nail tech or manicurist training program. You must have a high school degree or equivalence to apply. Most training programs are offered at community colleges and beauty schools. You will learn the basic skills necessary to offer safe, sanitary services to your customers.
- Next, you will need to get your license to manicure nails. Check with your state for the licensing requirements and costs. You’ll need to post your license in your place of business and also have extra copies to keep in your bag for your travel service. You may want to make a digital copy and display it on your smart phone. That way, it is with you wherever you go.
- Choose a system to track your money. You can use a computer program like QuickBooks to track your money flow, or do it by hand in a traditional ledger.
- Choose the appointment book carefully. Digital formats are popular but pen and paper books cannot be erased by a computer crash.
- Choose the receipt system carefully. You will need to generate duplicate copies, one for your customer and one for your tax records.
- Buy a business telephone number. It can be a second line in your home or it can be a dedicated cell phone used only for business calls. The cell phone is certainly a better option if you are conducting a travel service. Be sure you have a reliable voice mail service with your phone number.
- Investigate state, county, and city health regulations regarding your service. Each locality has different rules and you must follow them or risk being shut down. Do your homework!
Make a Note of It
Crucial Steps in Preparing for Service Delivery
- Inventory and manicure supplies: These include:
- Polish colors
- Manicure tools
- Manicure table (portable for easy transportation)
- Nail polish remover
- Cotton balls.
- Travel and Storage: You need to find a convenient way to carry manicure equipment and supplies for your service in your customer’s home. A travel bag on wheels is certainly a viable option. The size of the bag depends on:
- The number of bottles of solutions you need to serve the customer
- Manicure tools
- Manicure table
- Appointment book
- Receipt book
- Necessary supplies (including extra towels and cotton balls)
Why Offer Service to a Customer’s Home?
Traveling to a client’s home is not for everyone, but there are many benefits to offering a travel manicure service. From your customer’s perspective it is much more enjoyable to have you come to them. One of the biggest drawbacks of getting a manicure from a busy solon is the excessive noise while you are trying to converse with your tech. Home service will negate that concern.
Does a “Have Nail Art, Will Travel” service qualify as a home-based business?
Yes. Your office is in your home and business address is your home. You are offering an additional service to enhance your business marketing outreach. A traveling manicure service has many advantages:
- Reduces the number of people coming in and out of your home each day
- Mileage expenses are tax deductible as a business expense (make sure to keep accurate records of how much you drive for your business. Click here for a good record keeping system).
- Working at home can be isolating, so getting out of the house to do manicures can be a break in your day.
Four Marketing Tips to Help You Find Customers
Advertising your business can happen in many different ways. Here are some tips to help you begin to reach out to potential customers:
- Create a Business Card
- Create a postcard sized advertisement
- Create Flyers
- You can leave your business cards, Flyers, and postcards at:
- Local Laundromat bulletin boards
- Convenience stores
- Grocery stores
- Drug stores
- Gift shops
- Other places around town with bulletin boards
Network with people that you already have contacts:
- Church socials
- Senior centers
- Your spouse or significant other’s place of work
- Your former co-workers
- Your neighbors
Tell people that you are starting a manicure business and get excited about it. Share with everyone you can think of that they or someone they know will benefit from your service. Before you know it, you will have a list of consistent clients who will also refer clients to you.
This article just scratches the surface. The most cost effective training program is with your community college. You may be surprised at the number of older workers registering for the training.
Products and tools are not expensive. The direct links to products will show you what you will need to get started. It is also a convenient way to order on line for secure payment and shipping. Click here for a book on nail art that will help you prepare for your new career as a manicurist.
Starting a manicure service can be a great way to work at home and do something that you love. Instead of paying high fees for a chair at a salon, start your own business and have the flexibility and income that retirees covet.
Small Business: Exact Blueprint on How to Start a Business: Home Business, Entrepreneur, and Small Business Marketing by Ross Elkins
Retired Baby Boomers are looking for ways to make a buck from home after retirement. It’s in our DNA. We are reinventing retirement and using this chance to start a small home-based business. But how?
Maybe you already have a home business but don’t know how to turn it from a small-time dream into a big-time success. You may be afraid that your business idea will consume too much of your time and energy. To ensure success and avoid disappointments, you need to learn to accomplish your goals by reading this book on small business ownership.
Blueprint to Success
There are several steps small business owners need to know if they want to build a healthy business. This book details all of them:
- Business plans,
- Executive summary,
- Market analysis,
- Product/service line,
- Sales & marketing
- Business location strategy.
As a home-based business, the location is already set. However, the book makes it clear that you don’t have to stay home when it comes to promotion.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
They include but are not limited to:
- Depending too much on loved ones,
- Not setting a separate space for work,
- Lack of organization,
- Failure to manage interruptions,
- Working too much,
- Failure to develop a daily game plan
- Failure to work the plan.
- Failure to market your business
No, this book doesn’t specifically address the retiree in developing the business. It does offer steps that are crucial to follow for a successful business model. Use this blueprint and create a strong business and start working from home.
Small Business: Exact Blueprint on How to Start a Business: Home Business, Entrepreneur, and Small Business Marketing direct link: Click here.
The Power of Reflection on Future Goals
No matter what you want to accomplish from this day forward, what happened in the past is often a good indicator of what will happen in the future. Therefore, reflecting on what happened, both good and bad, can help you do better at achieving future goals. Sometimes reflection can be painful, though, so be sure to follow a process to help.
The Benefits of Reflection
First, let’s discuss the power of reflection. It…
- Transforms experiences, both bad and good, into learning
- Connects actions with success
- Develops problem-solving skills
- Increases your self-awareness
- Improves the ability to relax
- Helps you learn to ask more questions
- Identifies areas of change
- Figures out how you can improve next time
- Helps you apply resources
- Improves commitment to goals
- Helps you evaluate your experiences
- Assists with the ability to make changes
All of these things will help you with your future goals. You’ll learn to take experiences that you have had, connect your actions to success (and failure) and then analyze how you can repeat the success and avoid the failure later.
Think and Reflect
Remember, if we don’t learn from our history of mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them. As retirees, we know we made more than our fair share of mistakes. Therefore, we should be able to plot a game plan to focus on our success and replicate it for our future goals.
Four Steps on How to Reflect with Purpose
- Get Comfortable
Before you take the time to reflect on the past, be sure to get into a comfortable place both mentally and physically. Make the room quiet and comfortable. If you want to get into your PJs and wrap up with a blanket, with a cup of tea or hot chocolate, do whatever you need to do in order to be comfortable, truly reflecting and thinking about the past in a positive way.
- Look Back at Failures
If you need paperwork, get out your laptop. But, if you already know what you want to reflect on, just close your eyes and start thinking about the failures you had this past year. Getting a notebook or a voice recorder can help you hash it out in an organized way that creates some actionable steps for future goals. For example, say you wanted to launch a new product the past year and you never did it. Make a list of why you did not do it, and be brutally honest. Was it lack of time, lack of conviction or something else? What could you change to make it happen in the future?
- Note Any “AHA” Moments
At some point during your reflection, you may come to some moments of clarity that help you understand what went wrong. Maybe even what went right will come into focus. The important thing is don’t let failure cause you not to act positively and change your behavior. Instead try to turn it into lessons on how not to repeat that failure in future. If you focus on the moment of learning and not on the feelings of failure, you’ll be able to be more rational about it.
- Look Back on Successes
This is easier, of course, because success is always fabulous. But, you need to look back on each success and analyze why you succeeded. Sometimes the truth is that the success just fell into your lap, or someone really gave you a lot of help. Other times it is because you stuck to a schedule and worked every day toward success. Remember that a success in spite of your own actions is still success, but it’s not repeatable. You want to figure out how to repeat success so that it becomes more common.
Reflection helps you look back on your year and see what actions you took and how exactly they affected the future. This is helpful because now when the New Year happens, you can live your life in a more mindful way, knowing that every action or inaction you take makes a difference.
Goal Setting: The Ultimate Guide to Achieving Goals That Truly Excite You by Thibaut Meurisse
Here is a book on setting goals that will help you focus on what is truly important to accomplish projects, business planning, setting milestones, and measuring outcomes. Click here for the Goal Setting: The Ultimate Guide to Achieving Goals that Truly Excite You.
Retired Baby Boomers know that this is not news, but it too is reality.
Choosing Your Goals for the New Year
Baby Boomers have one advantage over the younger people when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. We have the wisdom to know what we can do and what we cannot do.
Most people make New Year’s resolutions that they promptly drop before the month’s end. But, if you learn how to choose goals that really have a chance of coming to fruition, and understand that goals need action behind them to be achieved, you’ll make this next year one of success.
This six-step process will help you choose goals for the New Year that really do have a chance to become true.
- What Did You Accomplish This Past Year?
Starting your planning session with the positives from the past year will help get you into a better frame of mind. If you can see that you’ve accomplished many of your goals, you are well on your way to success. Like a winning football team, use the big “MO” to channel your energy to develop the goals that may be more difficult to achieve.
- What Did Not Go Well Last Year?
More than likely you made some goals that you didn’t achieve. It’s good to look at those items and try to determine why you didn’t reach them. Were they realistic goals? Did you make a good enough plan to ensure you met each goal? Did you make too many other goals so that you simply did not have enough time?
- Make a Short List of Things You’d Like to Accomplish in the Coming Year
Now make a short list of no more than five things you’d like to accomplish this coming year. Choose a goal that you accomplished last year and want to continue to develop. Also you might choose some things from the list that did not get accomplished. You may also choose to add completely new items to the list. Properly setting priorities is a skill necessary for success. As a Baby Boomer, you learned how to set priorities to your advantage. Use this skill wisely.
Make a Note of It
- Make a List of Things You’re Going to Stop Doing
One reason some New Years goals aren’t accomplished is lack of time. Therefore, you need to make room for the new goals. This requires that you make a list of things you are not going to do anymore that will give you time for the new goals. For example, let’s say one of your new goals is to exercise 30 minutes a day, and last year you read 30 minutes a day. You might choose to end reading for the year in favor of exercising.
- Refine Your To-Do List with Realistic Action Plans
Here you can take your list of five and move it down to one or two goals you really and truly want and need to accomplish for the New Year. The way you’ll do that is to actually plan each goal step by step. You obviously want to accomplish these items by the end of the year, so start at that date. Then, moving backwards, make a plan of action you need to take each day to actually achieve your goals.
- Put Everything in Your Calendar
If You Do Not Write It Down, It Will Not Get Done!
No plans will happen if they are not down on paper or on a digital calendar. Each step you need to take should be in the calendar. That way, on any given day when you wake up in the morning, you simply look at the calendar and find out what you need to do. You don’t need to even focus on the end result, only what you are doing today or this hour.
My wife and I have been using a Planner Pad for years. You set the broad goals on one level. Then list the specific goals for the week. That makes developing the daily goal easy to determine. It becomes a list where you can check it off as you accomplish the goal for that day. It is easy and effective. Try it. To visit their website, click here.
Are Retired People Busy?
Yes, we are. I am busier now than ever with projects, golf, club meetings, church, volunteering and more. If I want to enjoy my “free” time in retirement, I need to plan for my time!
How Much Golf Can We Play Anyway?
These six steps will help you reach any goal for the New Year. Remember, it’s all about narrowing down what really matters, making realistic goals that you have time to work into your already busy day, and then scheduling everything for success.
That’s not news, but that too, is reality. Building a Home Biz for Retirees takes planning to succeed, just like any other business.