What to look for in an accounting software for your creative business

As we begin to think about our processes in this new year as creative business owners, inevitably, we have to think about taxes and getting our books in order for April 15th. 2013 Shay Cochrane

There has been a lot of discussion in our private alumni forums lately about accounting platforms and what creative entrepreneurs prefer to use.

Many have been using programs that track income and expenses and take care of invoicing, income and expenses, like Go Daddy Bookkeeping or Freshbooks. A word to the wise...they are not true accounting softwares. 

As you prepare your documents for your CPA or to file online yourself, you will need a proper profit and loss statement (often called a P&L), income statement or balance sheet, a list of assets like property or capital you have, a detailed list of your business expenses, and be able to understand your cash flow.

If you plan to grow your business to something sustainable enough to pay your bills and quit your day job, you will need a system that will grow with you incase you need to do payroll or send 1099 forms to contractors. You will need to be able to understand your business at a different level - more than just income vs. expenses - and be able to trust the reports you submit to federal and state governments.

Like anything, garbage in is garbage out, so make sure you are paying attention to this aspect of being a business owner. You need to understand where your money is going. If you can't rely on yourself to keep your books, you should be hiring this out.

All of that being said, we are not accountants here at Stationery Academy. You should always consult a CPA or bookkeeper, but ultimately it is YOU who is responsible for keeping track of your money and reporting to the government. It's not fun and no creative loves to do this part, so you aren't alone!

Investing in a bookkeeper or CPA for your business, is a decision that can actually SAVE you money. If you are using a software that only tracks income and expenses and plan on growing your business past where you are currently, you're wasting time and money! You will need to pay someone to transfer everything over and start anew when you do need more from your accounting software. So why not start from the beginning (or start before you get too deep) with something you can grow into in time?

For accounting software, we HIGHLY suggest using Quickbooks Online. This cloud based system works as easily as all of those we love that pull expenses and income in seamlessly and automatically.

If offers you the full picture you need to be able to track cash flow and business value. If you plan to grow your business, you will need to graduate to a real software. If you are using another way of tracking your money, make this transition now while it still may be an easy one. Otherwise, you'll be paying someone to transfer all that data or pulling your hair out doing it yourself.

This is not an affiliate or paid advertisement. We just want you to know this is the software you need to use.

We talk about accounting and numbers at Stationery Academy in depth. We send our attendees home with spreadsheets and homework to help them better understand their business financially.  We're half way sold out for our next conference in Phoenix in July. We'll be nice and cool inside the hotel for the majority of our conference, so no need to worry about the heat!

You can sign up for the summer session here, and follow along in the footsteps of over 150 alumni who have seen their businesses thrive after attending our 3-day intensive and all-inclusive conference.