25 Ways to Save Time on Your UK Business’s Bookkeeping in 2020

13th May 2020

At Pearl Accountants, we know that bookkeeping can be a bit of a chore which is why we offer full bookkeeping services to our clients at no additional cost. But for those of you who do your own bookkeeping, here are 25 tips (and two bonus tips) we’ve learned the hard way on how to speed that process up.

25 tips to save time on bookkeeping

1. Stop using Microsoft Excel and other local tools. Invest in a cloud solution such as QuickBooksXeroFreeAgent or one of the many other solutions around.

2. Use AutoEntry or ReceiptBank to automatically capture receipts into your chosen accounting tool — no more manual typing of receipts.

3. Use Zapier to automatically add contacts/leads to your chosen accounting platform to reduce manual data input. You can add contacts from multitudinous other services such as MailChimpHubSpot, Facebook Lead Ads, SalesforceInfusionsoftSugarCRM, Gmail and dozens of others.

4. Use DocuSignProposifyPandaDoc or similar tools to obtain electronic signatures for your proposals/quotes, then raise an invoice automatically in your chosen invoicing software (see point #1 above) once the proposal is accepted.

5. Use Zapier to automatically log payments made in PayPal or Stripe.

6. Sign up for GoCardless to make getting paid easier, then integrate this directly with your cloud accounting software to log invoices as paid.

7. Use Monday.com to track the progress of bookkeeping tasks, so you don’t lose time trying to “remember where you were” the last time you opened your books.

8. Sign up for a CRM (which in itself saves time in managing your clients) and integrate it with your accounting software to keep track of invoices, bills, etc.

9. Use an Email Parser such as mailparser.io or Zapier’s email parser to automate bookkeeping tasks for you. Several examples of how this can be done can be found here.

10. Scan receipts and other bookkeeping documents into a “TODO” folder in Dropbox using its mobile app, so you don’t forget to log them in manually later. When done, move the receipt/document to a “DONE” folder. (Our preferred solution is AutoEntry/ReceiptBank for scanning receipts, but this Dropbox option is free.)

11. If you have a team, sign up for AirTable as a replacement for Excel and raise an invoice every time you create a new AirTable view.

12. If you need to run payroll, automate this using your accounting software (see point #1) or some other dedicated automated payroll software.

13. Set a schedule for your bookkeeping. You’ll lose time if you try to do a job in five minutes when the job really requires twenty. You’ll need to spend those five minutes again if you come back to it later.

14. Stop banking with a bank that does not offer bank feeds to your accounting software.

15. If you absolutely must bank with an institution that does not offer feeds (such as those notorious German banks), hire someone to write a quick Excel macro for you to format the CSV file download so that it can be easily uploaded to your accounting software without additional work from you.

16. Have separate bank accounts for personal and business.

17. Have a separate PayPal account for personal and business.

18. During your allotted time for bookkeeping (see point #13) make sure you reconcile all your bank accounts before wrapping up for the day. Nothing wastes more time than reconciling only once a year.

19. Make regular backups! I was wrong when I said that “nothing wastes more time than reconciling only once a year.” Actually, nothing wastes more time than losing everything you’ve done and not having a backup. Even if you use a cloud solution, you need to back your data up after any major changes. You could be kicked out of the system or lose your login, anything.

  • Your cloud accounting solution probably has a data export solution built into it. Use it.
  • Don’t only back up locally to your computer; back up to the cloud such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, etc. as well.

20. Set up workflows for collecting documents/receipts from staff.

21. Make sure all workflows implemented end off with the document digitised.

22. Enable the guess/match feature of your accounting software to automatically try and match transactions in your bank accounts.

23. If your accounting software provides the feature, set up bank rules for automatic matching of transactions.

24. Hire someone temporarily to catch up the backlog if it is severe. It might be easier to go through something that has already been made somewhat orderly (even if it contains a few errors) than to spend hours sifting through confusing receipts and bank statements.

25. If something doesn’t balance or reconcile, dig into it immediately! Don’t leave it for later, after the problem has become exacerbated. After finding the error, figure out what workflow you could implement to make sure it doesn’t occur again, and then implement that workflow.

26. Bonus Tip: Turn off all social media and phone notifications when doing your bookkeeping! If you need to be reached urgently, give out a number that gets through to a colleague or your spouse, and they can decide if the call is important enough to bother you with it. Distractions can lead to things needing to be done again or, worse, to hard-to-find errors later on (see point #25).

Bonus Tip #27: Make it fun

The main thing is to think of bookkeeping as something fun. I know, I know, it might be hard to consider something we have to do so we can pay the government money as fun.

But try to take a different tack to it. Bookkeeping should be about seeing how much profit you have turned, how much income you’re making, how much you can invest in order to make more profit. And, if you’re not turning a profit, regular bookkeeping will keep your eyes open to that fact that so you can hit the brakes or take action before it’s too late.

By changing your attitude to bookkeeping, as well as implementing all the above tools, you’ll find that you do the activity with zest rather than as a drudgery. And once you’re having fun doing something, the time flies by and you do it better each time.

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