Can you believe it’s March already? That means I have been operating officially as a virtual assistant and productivity guru for over 4 months. What the hell. How has this come around so fast?

In the beginning I was super organised, setting up systems as I went. But as my business has blown up over the past two months, things have gotten a little bit chaotic as I’ve had to set things up quickly, not having the time to set up the infrastructure or the systems to support organisation going forward.

This came to a head a few weeks ago. I had just gotten my new computer and when I was transferring my folders I discovered a mess that can only be compared to someone catapulting pancake batter at a wall. So I sat that weekend and filed everything nicely, as I like to have it done. I also updated my accounts which, thankfully, I’ve been very organised with… and this gave me an idea.

You see, many of us small business owners are overwhelmed enough without digging deep into our admin systems. But unfortunately, in order to be “More Productive and Less Busy”, it is essential we keep on top of these things. And so, over the course of March, I’m going to help you get your small business sorted so that, come April, you’ll get the fresh start we all deserve.

 

 Week 1: Reconcile

This week is going to be all about reconciling the money. I’ve put together a free “End of Financial Year” trigger list and brain dumping sheet in my freebies page to help you get started.

You’ll need your bank statements or mobile/online banking app to hand, and all your outgoing invoices. You’ll also need access to any online payment platforms you use, such as Paypal or Stripe.

You will also need any receipts for items purchased. If you don’t have a physical receipt, you will usually have an email receipt or access to purchases via online suppliers. I only use a small handful of suppliers so this is not an issue for me, but if you use a lot of suppliers, make a list of who you use so you can audit each one individually.

Basically, grab all of the things related to money in or out and make a pile. Grab some highlighters too.

 

Stephanie Ward - Productivity Guru talks about reconciling finances. Image of laptop and receipts.

Overwhelmed? Go and make a coffee and come back. Go on, I’m watching!

 

Create a system – if you don’t already have one

I recommend a spreadsheet, such as MS Excel or Google Sheets. You’re going to make three sheets.

Sheet 1: Money in – with clients down the side and month across the top.

Sheet 2: Expenses: Recurring – with the merchant or supplier down the side and the month across the top. I find it easiest to have these separate as, with many products being subscription based now, it is easy to add these to all columns using the fill handle.

Sheet 3: Expenses: One Off – with the expense down the side, a column for the month in which the expense was incurred, and the cost.  

I won’t patronise by telling you how to fill these in. But if you do need a hand just reach out! Just work through at your own pace, and aim to have this completed within 7 days. It’s entirely doable for a small business. I did my four months in a few hours.

 

Chase the people who owe you, and pay the ones who you owe

When you have identified the outstanding invoices, send an email chasing those where you have waited longer than two weeks. In my service agreement, I have a specific clause which states that if a client doesn’t pay within 7 days of an invoice, future work will be paused. This may be something to consider yourself for next year. 

If you have the funds present, you should also clear any outstanding bills you owe, to get them wrapped up before the end of the month. 

 

Identify weaknesses in your current system

No system is perfect. If you find the perfect one, hit me up. I used Notion to track my income and expenses for the first few months as I could access it from my phone and could log my expenses in real time. However, I assumed I could export it into Excel, and discovered that actually, this was problematic and I had to export it manually (literally typing or copy-pasting into the spreadsheet!). Next year, I will still use Notion to log my finances, but will take the time to update my spreadsheet weekly to avoid having to spend a few hours all at once. 

You may come across a few bugs as you go. If you aren’t sure how to improve or adjust your system, you can always reach out – your Productivity Guru is always here for you. 

 

If money is a real block for you, I recommend reading Denise Duffield-Thomas’ Get Rich Lucky Bitch. She is absolutely amazing. I also recommend Nikki Ramskill, The Female Money Doctor, and she has a Facebook community for women wanting to work on their finances.

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