Part of the work that goes into running a business is making sure your finances are in order. This includes keeping track of expenses and revenue, making sure your taxes are in order, and staying abreast on business transactions. Many people aren’t sure where to begin when it comes to managing their business funds, and hiring an accountant can be completely out of the budget for some. Keeping the books does not have to be difficult or expensive.

Where to Begin

When you decide on your business, it’s your responsibility to keep track of every financial detail. Most likely you’ll be opening a bank account specifically for business related expenses, and you may even get a business credit card. Keep detailed, accurate notes on what you purchase and keep receipts. If you begin to sell products or services, you may need to send invoices or receipts to your clients.

Bookkeeping Software and Online Programs

When you’re ready to take on your business finances, there are several types of software and online programs that can make the process simple, and keep everything up to date. You can access these programs online either for free, with affordable monthly payments, or a one-time flat fee. A few of these programs are:

  • Open Office: For those who can’t afford Microsoft Office, Open Office provides similar, open source tools for free. Along with text documents and presentations, you can also create spreadsheets very similar to Microsoft Excel. Concerned that your files won’t convert? You can save each of your files in Microsoft Office format or PDFs.
  • Paypal: Trusted online merchants have chosen to do their dealings using PayPal. You can set up a merchant account where you can include a shopping cart and “Buy Now” buttons on your website. PayPal allows you to send invoices to your clients via e-mail, get paid, transfer the money into your bank account, or even receive a debit card where the money is easily accessible. The service is free, but you incur a small fee for transactions.
  • Outright: Outright is an online program that puts “your accounting tasks on auto-pilot”. The Mint for small businesses, Outright puts all of your accounts in one central place and organizes transactions by categories. It makes things more visually appealing with charts and graphs, and keeps your tax information together. Outright offers a 30 day free trial, and afterwards a cost of $9.95 each month, which makes it extremely affordable.
  • Freshbooks: Freshbooks is another way to keep track of expenses and invoicing your clients. It can integrate with PayPal, SalesForce, Google Apps, and other awesome applications to keep your money in sync. You also have the option to invoice your clients in multiple currencies and receive your payments online. If your clients aren’t computer savvy, you can still use Freshbooks and send your invoices via snail mail. Pricing for Freshbook ranges from free (managing 3 clients), up to $39.95 a month managing unlimited amounts of clients.

Try out the programs for free before making a purchasing commitment and become your own accountant!