If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: systems are the lifeblood of your business.
Having a complete system for your money is a vital part of running your business and the basis of this system relies on four core platforms.
Business Bank Account
The first platform you need to have in place for your business finances is a bank account — to make money you need a place to hold your money.
This absolutely, 100% must be separate from your personal accounts. If you’re just starting out, your biz account can be a new personal account you open up to exclusively use for your business. Once you have an LLC it is a good idea to switch to a business bank account.
Whatever type of account, find a bank that won’t charge you a monthly service charge. If you like your current bank, but they charge a service fee, speak with the bank manager about waving the fees because you want to continue doing business with them.
If they’re not willing to work with you on this, it’s a sign they aren’t very supportive of small businesses — you want a service provider that will work with you.
If you’re looking for a new bank, credit unions and community banks are wonderful options. They tend to have no monthly service charge and are generally much more supportive of small businesses than bigger banks.
The next platform for a financial system is your payment processor. This is how you actually move money from your client to your bank account.
My top recommendations are Stripe and Square. Stripe is my personal favorite for several reasons.
It has a huge number of integrations with other programs, its fee structure is always the same (2.9% + .30 for credit and debit), and there is a lot of flexibility to create custom billing situations.
If your business is 100% online, this is definitely the route to go.
Square is another good option. While it has fewer direct integrations than Stripe, it is a better option if you ever have in-person purchases.
For online payments, the fees are the same as Stripe, however, other methods of processing the payment (keying in the card, for instance) have higher fees.
Don’t do it
PayPal. I am not a fan of PayPal and will always suggest moving away from it.
The issue with PayPal is that it’s trying to act as both a bank and a payment processor, which causes trouble with the bookkeeping. If you’re not careful it can double count your revenue (making it seem like you made more than you did and thus have to pay more taxes).
It’s a nightmare to reconcile (many bookkeepers, myself included, charge an extra service fee for dealing with PayPal) and there are extra fees on top of the processing fee depending on where you send the funds.
If you like the ability to send a single payment request to someone, Stripe has a new feature, Billing, that does the same.
Your invoicing system is the third part of a financial system and is how your client knows how and how much to pay you.
Your invoicing system should be able to integrate with your payment processor and your bookkeeping software to create the smoothest financial system.
A fan favorite for contracts and invoicing, Dubsado is a solid choice for invoicing.
My favorite feature is the ability to set up autopay options for recurring invoices so that you never have to wait on a client to make a payment.
The Dubs also has a QuickBooks integration, an upcoming Xero integration, and an on-the-horizon Wave integration.
Another option is to use the native feature in your bookkeeping system. This keeps the information about money coming into your business already in your bookkeeping system.
However, if you have recurring invoices, it typically doesn’t allow for clients to do an autopay option.
Your bookkeeping program is the last part of a complete financial system for your business.
This is the hub for you to see your financial world at a glance, understand how you are doing financially, and gather information to make financial decisions.
My personal favorite for bookkeeping is Xero. It’s a complete cloud-based bookkeeping system.
I love that its standard plan gives you access to everything you need to run the bookkeeping for your business from the very start to huge growth; there’s no nickel and diming for more users or reports.
I’m OBSESSED with the expense claim feature – it’s super easy to submit business purchases you made from a personal account to record the transaction and be reimbursed.
(Seriously, I go 😍 every time I think about it).
Runner up is QuickBooks.
With more plan options than Xero, it may look more budget friendly, however, what I dislike is that vital reports are not available in all subscriptions and you have to upgrade if you need a certain number of users, invoices, or other features.
The plus side is even though QuickBooks is newer in the cloud-based accounting space, they have a lot of integrations.
Note: QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Self-Employed are two separate programs and switching between the two is the same as switching between another bookkeeping program and QBO.
Tough Love Time
I know you may want to put off organizing the financial side of your business. It can feel like doing one wrong thing in your finances will screw you over completely. But putting it off is doing yourself an even greater disservice.
Finances are the most important place to treat your business like a business.
Most business owners I work with think they’re doing a much more horrible job of organizing their financial systems than they are. As with other systems in your business, it’s not going to be perfect right off the bat and that’s okay; start anyway.
All my personal favorites:
Stripe for payment processing
Dubsado for invoicing
Xero for bookkeeping
**Some of these links are affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on the link.