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Plan with the end in mind

I recently gave a small talk about what I do at a business lunch. When people see that I am a Quickbooks Advisor, they automatically label me as a bookkeeper. By trade I am a project manager. In my 10 years of project management experience, I have found that the reason that most project fail is because of money, or lack thereof.

During my last 5 years at my old job, I was fortunate to apprentice with an a Fiscal Monitor. We would go on site visits with contractors and go over their books. Tracking grant money from our office, to their office, through the project. It changed the way I looked at projects. When I was thinking about leaving my government job. A friend told me that I should get Quickbooks Certified. It would up my game as a project manager. She was right.

My first Quickbooks install was for my own small business.  I planned with the end in mind.  At the end of the day, the end goal of a project is to make money.  I decided how I wanted to track my income, my expenses, reimbursable purchases, etc. I could track who owed me money.  I could easily run reports to see how much money I made in a month (or how much money I needed to make to pay my rent the next month).  I had actual numbers to support estimates for clients.  Then, when I sold my business a month ago, I had realistic information for the new owner on her sales projections.

I’ve been able to take a more holistic approach to finance than many of my peers because of my experience as a project manager and my time conducting contractor audits.  Most accountants and bookkeepers don’t have field experience, or they choose to just see numbers as numbers.  When I take on a new client, I let them know that I will be as invasive as they want me to be.  I can be just a numbers girl, or I can make sure that they make as money as possible.

Read your bank statements

I know it’s a chore, but it’s a good practice to reconcile your bank and credit card statements on a monthly basis.  Debit/credit cards and online transactions make life a little easier, but they  make it easier for you to lose track of expenses and they are often a target for theft and fraud.

 

Time is money

Time is money guys.  There’s the time it takes for me to work on things, the time it takes to meet with a client on things, and the time I could have been working on other things. There is also the time spent thinking about client things when I should be relaxing (I call that failure to unplug)

Lately, managing my time is like a cross between Tetris and Jenga.  Tetris, as I attempt to fit all of the client meetings and other work things into my already crazy google calendar.  Jenga, as I get cancellations and requests for rescheduling.  It’s great when I have enough notice, and I can reschedule something in that empty space, but most of the time, moving all the stuff around on short notice leads to an upset  in the system and I don’t end up with enough billable hours for the month.

One work around for this is to charge a cancellation fee based on when the cancellation was made.  The closer the cancellation to the appointment, the more the business may charge.  Right now, we happen to be in the thick of flu season.  Do I charge the two clients that cancelled?  One notified me a day in advance, the other missed her appointment completely.  Does it mean anything if this is the second time I’ve had to reschedule for the client cancelling in advance?