It may seem like the billing and accounting department for your business is simply there to push paper (or emails), and can’t add value to your business besides the invoices it sends out.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, and if you’re lackadaisical with your accounting practices, you could be leaving money on the table, hindering growth, or even taking a loss. Naturally, all these situations happen subtly, otherwise you wouldn’t be doing them.
Being a business involved with payroll and accounting, we get it, it’s not exactly a rock-star lifestyle, but good accounting practices can sure make a difference in your net income at the end of the month and year. That can make a huge difference in living a rock-star lifestyle, whatever that might mean to you.
The good news is that these are all things you can start doing today, and they’re actually going to make a difference in how your business operates. The only thing you’ll need is some discipline and you’re on your way.
For this article, just replace “accounting” with “payroll” or “billing” whenever applicable.
Set Deadlines and Stick to Them
The biggest mistake made in the accounting department of most businesses is putting things off until tomorrow. In addition to the potential backlog you could be creating, it also adds to a workplace culture that prioritizes the individual over the collective.
Individualism is great, but no one, even you, can just do what you want at your business without consequences. This is a very slippery slope that eventually results in logjams that you can’t resolve without a concerted effort, and usually resources of some type.
Granted, sometimes we get away with it, but sometimes we don’t. Whatever tasks, calls, email, requests, or audits that might be on their way don’t care that we put ourselves in a bad situation, they’re still comin.
I understand, it’s extremely enticing to close the computer on a Friday afternoon and say to yourself “letting this sit for a couple of days isn’t going to make or break my business.” No, it probably won’t, but it sets the terrible precedent in your workplace that how someone feels at a given moment is more important than the health of the business as a whole.
The schedule you designed to make your business run efficiently is to be followed always, and only broken in the case of a true emergency. When you think you can’t slug it out for another couple hours, do, and save that card for the times you really can’t do it. If you have the slightest bit of uncertainty whether or not it is one of those times, it isn’t, you always know in your heart when it is.
Stop Letting Things Slide
Whether it’s clients that are perpetually late with their payments, employees who don’t remember to sign in, or vendors that fail to live up to their promises, stop letting people get away with things!
I understand this sounds harsh, and no one wants to be a tyrant, but it’s crucial that you stop breaking agreements with yourself and others. All these little ‘nothings’ add up to a big something, and are costing you money whether you want to admit it or not.
There’s a domino effect that happens while you’re requesting a client pay a bill, adjusting someone’s timecard, or accepting a delivery that isn’t exactly the price you agreed upon. While you’re fixing those problems, or coming to terms with them, you’re not working!
This isn’t to say you have to go around screaming at people, don’t do that. Simply explain that you can’t conduct your business like this, and if they’re unable to live up to their side of the agreement, you’ll find someone that can.
The truth is, when we get penalized for something we did poorly, or told “no” flat out, we usually understand. Furthermore, we respect business owners and entrepreneurs that respect themselves enough not to tolerate having their time or money wasted. You want to bring your business to the next level, follow the rule of requiring others to follow the rules.
Spend Money to Make Money
The final common accounting error is to handle things you’re not trained to do. In the same way that you’d call a professional to fix your car, lay tile, or handle a legal matter, get someone to handle the things you do slowly or poorly
This is not a thing of pride, self-sufficiency, or anything like that. It’s simple dollars and cents: if you’re spending more time on a situation than a professional would, you’re probably throwing money and peace of mind out the window.
Let’s say you earn $100 an hour, and it takes you four hours to resolve a given situation that a professional charges $200 to solve. You haven’t saved $200 by doing it yourself, you’ve lost $200 by doing it yourself.
I understand it’s not always that clear cut and there’s a greater level of complexity than that. The simple fact is that we’re not handling our normal responsibilities that could be helping your business in the long term, you could be doing harm even as you think you’re being prudent and thrifty.
Change is Difficult
I understand that it’s difficult to implement change, particularly when it comes to our own practices and behaviors. It’s always good to consider how you would advise a friend or a stranger if they received the same information that you’re balking at.
Often, I find that actions I’m not interested in are actions that I would be fine to suggest to someone else. When that’s the case, I gotta’ bite the bullet and just take the advice.