One in two entrepreneurs want to spend less time on their financial admin. And that’s understandable, as the average business manager spends 9 of their 55 working hours a week on their accounts (source: Unizo). Not to mention the hassle of the quarterly returns… If that sounds familiar, these 5 tips will help you get a grip on your financial accounts in no time.
1. Structure your financial accounts
Organise your documents with a clear folder structure on your computer, in the cloud or even in your filing cabinet. And make a distinction between primary folders and subfolders. While a primary folder serves as a category, you should add your documents to the subfolders.
For example, your primary folder may be called ‘purchase invoices’, while your subfolders refer to the months of the year. You can then drag all invoices from January to your subfolder ‘January 2023 – Purchase invoices’.
Give each document a logical name so you can find it easily. The file name of your purchase invoice could be the invoice date and name of your supplier, for instance. Avoid vague names such as ‘miscellaneous’, as this invites chaos.
2. Use workflows
The structure of your workflow is just as important as the structure of your documents. Establish a fixed workflow; in other words, repeat the same steps in the same order every time. This is the key to standardising your work. As soon as you receive an invoice, for example, start by saving it in the correct folder and then arrange for it to be paid.
Another way to save time is to use templates for key documents. Their outline will be the same, while the content will be different. You can design one yourself, adding details such as your logo, address and bank details, and any other legally required information. Using a template means you don’t have to prepare contracts, invoices or drafts from scratch every time.
You can also add your answers to complaints or frequently asked questions to a standard document. By writing these up and saving them, you can use them again when needed in a conversation or email.
3. Introduce electronic payments
Do you keep your paper receipts in a pile so you can count your cash later and record your transactions in your cash book? A payment terminal that accepts cards eliminates these time-consuming tasks.
If you rent or buy a payment terminal from Axepta BNP Paribas, the money will be in your account the very next working day. This isn’t just good for your cash flow, but for your peace of mind, too. You can’t lose your money because you don’t need to keep cash in your home. Moreover, you save time because you don’t have to go to the bank.
You will also have access to an online portal where you can view a summary of your transactions. Thanks to automated reports, you can instantly see how much you have sold – and when.
You’ll also meet customers’ expectations when using a payment terminal, as bank cards are now the most widely used payment method in Belgium (source: ECB). What’s more, since 1 July 2022 your company has been obliged to offer at least one electronic payment system (source: Febelfin).
4. Be smart with your time
To avoid stress and having to work late, block fixed times in your calendar for your financial admin. If you usually spend more time than intended on your admin, make sure you use your time as productively as possible.
A blank sheet of paper will help you achieve this. Use it to write down all the to-do items on your mind – from unread emails to your VAT return. Next, rank them in order of priority.
A priority matrix can be useful here. This is based on two foundations: important and urgent. Do not forget to do tasks that are important. And urgent matters need to be dealt with immediately.
Divide your list into four parts and focus on the first two:
- Do: Focus on important or urgent tasks as soon as possible.
- Schedule: Plan tasks that are important, but not urgent, in your calendar.
- Delegate: Tasks that aren’t important, but are urgent, can be delegated.
- Delete: Tasks that are neither important nor urgent can be removed from your list.
5. Metrics are key
As a business owner, you should rely on numbers rather than on your intuition. Don’t simply check the financial admin to-do items; instead, look at the bigger financial picture.
Immerse yourself in your income, expenses, profit and loss. What trends do you see? And what predictions can you make for the future?
Business owners often outsource the interpretation of their numbers. You don’t need to be an expert, but having a basic knowledge of corporate finances certainly helps, and will allow you to talk to your accountant as a confident, equal partner.
What’s more, it helps you to keep hold of the reins. The advantage of having a clear overview is that you can take a proactive, rather than a reactive approach. You take the initiative instead of waiting for things to happen.
Your accounting software will automatically generate a financial overview for you, or you can create one yourself in Excel using a template.
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