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You’re ready to take the plunge and start using a digital bookkeeping program. Buuuuuut…you have no idea what to pick and where to start! There are so many options so how do you know which one is right for you and your business?
I’m teaching you how to pick a bookkeeping program that is a PERFECT fit for your business and what questions you should ask yourself before you invest in a program. We’ll go over my 5 step process that I use with my clients, and I’ll share some bonus tips and tricks!
How do you choose a bookkeeping program for your business? How do you even know what to use? Where to start?
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Why you need to choose wisely (2:35)
The biggest reason to choose wisely is that your want a bookkeeping program that will EVOLVE with your business.
You don’t want to choose a system that will only be suitable for your business for the next six months. Can you imagine switching up your bookkeeping program once or twice every year?
Every time you switch programs, you have to transfer ALL your data. It’s either
a.) Too time-consuming so you just blow it off entirely.
b.) It’ll suck up your precious time doing it yourself.
c.) It’ll suck up YOUR money because you’ll hire somebody else to do it.
If you’re a new business owner, you’re probably thinking, “I’m brand new to this, does it really matter that I track all my data now? It’s so inconsistent!”
The truth is- it DOES matter. Your business may only be six months old today, but someday it’s going to be 3, 5, or 10 years old. When that day comes, you’re going to want to reflect on your financial history and figure out, “Hey, how did I get here?”
If you’re not keeping your financial history in one place this is going to be a giant pain in the ass. That’s why it’s SUPER important to choose a bookkeeping program that’ll stick with you for the long haul. Trust me.
Does that sound like overkill to you? I totes get that. This definitely is not an overnight process. But, eventually, you’ll be extremely grateful that you spent the time (and maybe a bit of extra money) to get a system that really WORKS for you.
To prepare, I recommend you look at the process FIRST and then give yourself several weeks and even up to a month. You need to review all of your options and consider the pros and cons of each. I don’t want you to choose a program because you’re stressed out and want to make a decision quickly.
I also don’t want you to choose a program just because somebody else recommended it (yes, even if that somebody is magical little me). Nobody knows your business better than you, so this is a decision that should be entirely your own.
You’re proactively choosing a program, not reactively going with whatever.
Here is my step-by-step process for selecting the best bookkeeping program that will work for you and your business.
Step 1: List all your current bookkeeping needs (7:45)
Grab a pen and paper and brain dump everything you do for your bookkeeping RIGHT NOW. In this present moment, what do you need to do for your bookkeeping?
Over the course of the next week, every time you do something that is bookkeeping related, refer back to your list. Double check that you’ve captured everything in that initial brain dump. Taking all of these notes now will help you save a lot of time later.
Don’t be afraid to get detailed.
You don’t want to commit to a program that’s missing a key feature that you need to manage your business finances. That is why you track your needs beforehand, digging into ALL the detailed processes that you currently have.
What do you do with this list?
When you’re researching programs, you’ll know what features you absolutely need. Everything on this list is non-negotiable. If a particular program doesn’t do everything on this list, it isn’t right for you. You shouldn’t sacrifice your needs, especially since that are so many options out there!
Step 2: List your bookkeeping needs 1 year from now (12:26)
The point of this step is to think about the future. Anticipate what you’ll be doing one year from now and how these decisions will impact your finances. Take notes again, but this time, envision where your business is going to be one year from now.
When creating this list, think about what direction your business is heading in.
Your notes should answer some of these questions:
- How do you want to make money one year from now?
- What type of investments do you plan on making?
- Do you plan on expanding?
- What changes are you going to make to your overall business structure?
Perhaps you’ll want to pay yourself as an employee, which means you should be looking for a bookkeeping software that has payroll built into it. This doesn’t have to be planned out to a tee, but you can still be realistic with your tentative planning.
The key here is to determine the NEW financial processes you’ll be adding to your bookkeeping program. When you look at your notes, have a clear vision of what will happen in your business. In other words, what’s going to be new or changing.
This list becomes your should-have list. It’s not a list of non-negotiables, but the program you choose should have those additional capabilities. If it doesn’t, then the program probably won’t work for you one year from now.
Most programs will cover your non-negotiables, but the SHOULD HAVE list starts to eliminate programs that aren’t quite the right fit for you.
Step 3: List your bookkeeping needs 3 years from now (17:00)
This one is my favorite! You’ve already looked into the realm of possibility with your business. Naturally, the next step is to take things a step further: where is your business going to be three years from now?
Focus in on the new financial processes that will transform over the next three years. I understand that this step can feel overwhelming because tactics and strategies are constantly changing. It’s difficult to predict your future, and you can’t know exactly what to expect. But…you can still start dreaming!
This is your bonus list.
Look, this list doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s going to help you come up with bonus features to look for when you’re researching bookkeeping programs. As you narrow down your choices, you may have a handful left. When you’re feeling indecisive toward making a final decision, refer back to your bonus list items.
Look at your favorite programs and say, “I know that this one is going to evolve with my business for years to come.” That’s the way that we use the bonus list.
Step 4: List all the software you currently use (20:27)
The goal is to understand WHY and HOW you use each software. Then ask yourself, “Can this be integrated and/or replaced? Is this something that I have to use or can I replace it with a bookkeeping program that’s more robust?”
For example, let’s say you’re using Google Sheets to track your invoices. That can easily be replaced with digital invoicing solution. Then the digital invoicing can easily be integrated with another software like Dubsado. Always check to see which software have integration capabilities.
What exactly is integration? Here’s an example. I use Dubsado*, which is a client management software. It directly integrates with Quickbooks Online*, which means that Dubsado will ping Quickbooks and let them know that I just sent an invoice and when the invoice is paid. Both programs are synced with each other, so they save you the extra work of manually plugging in the information yourself.
The idea is to find ways to have your current processes streamlined or replaced by ONE bookkeeping system. And sometimes there are things that can’t be integrated and that’s okay. BUT we are making the decisions INTENTIONALLY about what can and can’t be integrated.
That leads us into the final part of the process, which is research and comparison.
Step 5: Research & comparison (25:46)
Now it’s time to research and compare programs! Steps 1 through 4 help you figure out exactly what you’re looking for. That way, when you’re out researching programs on Google, you’re brain isn’t going to explode from decision overload.
It’ll be much easier for you to go through the process of elimination when you have a clear understanding of what programs match your bookkeeping checklist.
Start with your non-negotiable list and you work your way down.
It’s a good practice to prioritize your list beforehand. Your checklist should indicate what you need most at the top. When researching, compare your findings with your non-negotiables first, then the should-have’s, followed by the bonus items.
Compare these options with a critical eye, so you can make the best decision that’s right for your business. Look at the integrations, look at the bonuses, and compare them with what you need for the next 3 years in your business. Pick the program that fulfills most of your needs.
To be honest, I believe that you should look at fulfilling your needs first, and then compare the costs. A good bookkeeping program will be worth the cost. I’m not telling you to select a program that you can’t afford. What I’m saying is consider the time ROI of the program and if it’s worth it.
You also shouldn’t select a program just because it’s $2 cheaper each month than another program. Those are the little mistakes we make because we’re trying to save money. Yes, saving money is good, but not if it’s at the expense of your time, energy, and financial organization.
There you have it: my system for researching and selecting the best software to use. I hope this process will help you select the right bookkeeping program for your business!
*This is an affiliate link, which means that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and sign up via my link.