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How I Simplified My Business Bookkeeping


Since January of 2010, I’ve been running my own micro-business. I make my living as a writer, photographer, and teacher. I enjoy being able to help others through these mediums. I love my job and I’m grateful that my business is thriving. However, there is one job related task I don’t love and that’s bookkeeping.

For the last few years, I’ve been using a basic excel spreadsheet to track my business expenses and income. The spreadsheet method worked, but it was time intensive and I was missing important details. For example, I wasn’t tracking my PayPal fees or mileage.

I wanted to simplify and streamline my bookkeeping process. So I asked my friend — and business partner — Courtney Carver for help. She recommended a few services that would meet my bookkeeping needs, including Outright and Shoeboxed. Earlier this month, I signed up for both services and last week I spent one afternoon organizing my accounting. I can’t believe I waited so long to sign-up for these services! I still have a lot to learn, but so far Outright and Shoeboxed are intuitive and easy to understand. When it’s time to do my taxes this year, I will be organized and that makes me feel good!

If you need help simplifying your small business bookkeeping, give the following tips and tools a try:

1. Ask friends, family members, and business colleagues for help. For example, Courtney offered me valuable information about two bookkeeping programs that I love. If I hadn’t asked for help, I wouldn’t be using Outright or Shoeboxed.

2. Before you spend money on accounting software, or online bookkeeping, sign-up for a free trial version. This will give you the opportunity to explore the program and see if it works for you. Also, make time to learn about the new program in detail. Read articles online and take advantage of support services. If you don’t understand a tool, you won’t use it.

3. Open business specific accounts for checking, savings, PayPal, and for credit cards. Having a clear division between personal and business accounts will make your life easier during tax season.

4. Save and send your receipts to Shoeboxed. For me, Shoeboxed is the perfect receipt storage solution.

5. Find bookkeeping software that works for you. I’m thrilled with Outright because it’s saved me time and given me peace of mind.

What tips would you add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Be well,

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sandra Pawula June 24, 2014, 11:00 am

    Thanks so much for this, Tammy! Right now, I use an Excel spreadsheet like you did. I’m curious to explore these programs to see if they will make my life easier!

  • Kathy Peterman June 24, 2014, 11:10 am

    Love these tips and look forward to checking out the 2 services that you and Courney recommend. Great blog!

  • Elisabeth June 24, 2014, 1:03 pm

    Great suggestions, Tammy! I don’t yet have a micro business but I wonder if these programs would make it easier for me to keep track of the ENglish language teaching account that I’m responsible for at my school.
    I’ll definitely have a look!

  • Pat June 24, 2014, 3:03 pm

    Hi, Tammy!
    I’m retired now, so I can’t comment on the software except to say that user-friendly software always makes me happy, and I usually ask others for suggestions. I do have a question if you wouldn’t mind sharing—where did you find that purple notebook/journal? (I immediately went to Etsy to look for it.) When I saw that picture just now, I nearly fell off my chair. Fabulous composition, colors. Of course it’s fabulous; you made the picture! 🙂
    Have a good week.

    • Tammy Strobel June 24, 2014, 3:21 pm

      Hey Pat,

      User friendly software is a must! It makes me happy too. The journal is by Moleskine and I found it on amazon.com. Here’s a link. 🙂


  • Marjorie Cooper June 25, 2014, 9:54 am

    Your blog entry was excellent and very helpful. I do have a question for you though.. When I followed Outright it led me to GoDaddy is this App / site the same?
    Thank-you, I always enjoy reading what you write!

    • Tammy Strobel June 25, 2014, 12:49 pm


      Yes it’s the same. GoDaddy acquired Outright. You can learn more about the bookkeeping software here: http://outright.com/learn-more/

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate it. 🙂

  • Maria Storgaard June 26, 2014, 5:26 am

    Hi Tammy, I don’t know if the program billysbilling is out in the us yet, I have used it for almost 2 years now and love it. It is specifically for small business owners and super userfriendly:) I really don’t linke bookkeeping either, but this makes it managable:).

  • Jen June 26, 2014, 7:32 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I don’t have my own micro business but I certainly want one in the future! The least appealing thing to me about all of it is taxes and admin. Blergh! But it’s good to have these tips to save me time in the future, and good to know that when I do go into business for myself that side of things won’t be too bad. 🙂

  • Cathy July 2, 2014, 10:33 am

    Hi Tammy, I am also running my own business as a retailer, and book keeping is essential to take the pulse, so to speak, so I am happy to do it.
    The one tip I would give is “know when to hand it over”, in other words, find you own cut off point.
    What works for me is to do the everyday bookkeeping and submit the quarterly tax the shop owes, and keep on top of income & expenses. Then every year I prepare the books / income/ expenses etc. and I hand it over to an accountant from a fairly large firm.
    I decided I didn’t want to learn the ins and outs of accounting, and it’s their duty to be on top of every little change in tax laws. It’s been 5 years now and I haven’t looked back. There are so many other things I do with myself !

  • Ann MacKay July 5, 2014, 5:00 pm

    When I had a small business a few years ago, I used TinyBooks designed for the Mac. It was easy to use and sorted everything into IRS categories. The latest Pro version has even more bells and whistles with check printing and mileage. I have no relationship with the developer expect as a user. http://www.winograd.com