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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 11 Tools to Easily Manage Business Finances

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 11 Tools to Easily Manage Business Finances


    Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of those involved in the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

    Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

    What app or software helps make managing your business finances a breeze?

    1. Stay on Track With Indinero

    Bhavin Parikh

      The most important financial metric for most startups is monthly cash flow. Indinero lets us easily see how much we’re spending each month by category so we can budget for the coming months.

      Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh, Inc.


      2. QuickBooks Eases Things

      Eric Bahn

        Almost all small business accountants in the United States are familiar with QuickBooks. Thus, I recommend any QuickBooks product (although I like Online Edition the best) because it makes it easy for your to clean up books and collaborate with your accountant for tax time.

        Eric Bahn, Beat The GMAT

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        3. Outright Shows Everything

          I’ve got Outright set up to push notifications to my phone: every time I receive a payment, my phone goes ‘cha-ching!’ It’s a good noise to hear. On top of that feature, Outright can automatically pull in data from accounts and other apps, while putting everything together in a format that makes my CPA very happy. (Disclaimer: I write for the Outright blog, as well as using the app religiously.)

          Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

          4. Go With Google Docs

            Google Docs is a great tool to manage business finances. It’s very powerful and simple to use which makes it a breeze to use.

            Ben Lang, EpicLaunch


            5. Pay Up With Square Up

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              Square Up is a great payment processing mobile app that makes accepting credit cards a snap and moves money quickly into my bank account.

              Benjamin Leis, Sweat EquiTees


              6. Microsoft Excel Is Still Relevant!

                It is the industry standard for spreadsheets for a reason. With a little training, you can run circles around any closed source software.

                Peter Minton, Minton Law Group, P.C.


                7. I Owe It All to Freshbooks

                  I’ve never been very good with money. In fact, at one point, I appeared on CNN as the poster child for those with shopping problems. But Freshbooks helps me keep it all together on the business side. I use it to track my time and my business expenses, send invoices (and followups), send out and receive estimates, and generate tax reports. And despite my history with money, it’s all a breeze.

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                  Steph AuteriWord Nerd Pro

                  8. Wave Accounting Saves Time

                  Josh Weiss

                    Wave Accounting is completely free and connects directly to your bank account. It automatically keeps track of all your spending for you. It’s a great product and a huge timesaver.

                    Josh Weiss, Bluegala


                    9. Sync With Mint.com

                      Although most people use Mint.com to monitor their personal finances, many business owners don’t take advantage of doing the same thing with their business accounts. Not surprisingly, Mint’s software works similarly with business bank accounts and credit cards, which makes it very valuable to manage budgets and overall spending.

                      Logan Lenz, Endagon

                      10. Stick With Shoeboxed

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                        I used to dread tax time, because my receipts were always a mess, and often nonexistent. Shoeboxed makes it incredibly easy to keep track of all of my receipts, and then import all of the data to sites like Outright, Mint, etc.

                        Sean OgleLocation 180, LLC

                        11. There Are Still ‘Human’ Applications…

                        Brent Beshore

                          I have this awesome human application called a Director of Operations. She handles all the accounting, financing, taxation, and regulation. It’s like magic. I’d highly recommend getting one. They can read between the lines on all those long-winded documents and keep you from wandering into trouble.

                          Brent Beshore, AdVentures

                          (Photo credit: Hands Managing Bank via Shutterstock)

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                          Last Updated on September 2, 2020

                          How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                          How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                          Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

                          In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

                          4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

                          Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

                          1. Be Clear About the Objectives

                          Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

                          It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

                          Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

                          2. Keep Goals Realistic

                          It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

                          It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

                          3. Account for Inflation

                          Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

                          Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

                          For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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                          4. Short Term Vs Long Term

                          Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

                          As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

                          By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

                          How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

                          Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

                          • Ensuring healthy savings
                          • Making smart investments

                          You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

                          Ensuring Healthy Savings

                          Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

                          This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

                          1. Track Expenses

                          The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

                          Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

                          If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

                          2. Pay Yourself First

                          Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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                          Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

                          The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

                          Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

                          3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

                          Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

                          Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

                          At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

                          Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

                          You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

                          4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

                          In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

                          Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

                          • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
                          • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
                          • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

                          The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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                          5. Talk About It

                          Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

                          Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

                          6. Maintain a Journal

                          For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

                          If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

                          When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

                          Making Smart Investments

                          Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

                          1. Consult a Financial Advisor

                          Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

                          Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

                          2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

                          Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

                          Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

                          As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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                          3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

                          Einstein once remarked about compounding:

                          “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

                          Use compound interest when setting financial goals

                            Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

                            Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

                            4. Measure, Measure, Measure

                            All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

                            If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

                            Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

                            The Bottom Line

                            Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

                            and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

                            More Tips on Financial Goals

                            Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

                            Reference

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