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My Books are a Mess: Business Owners and Quickbooks

Successful People Do What Others Won't Do.
Often that means doing what they don't really want to do.
If it was easy, everyone would be a success.

Why are my books a mess?  Why do I have a bunch of transactions in Unapplied Cash accounts?  It is common for small business owners to struggle using QuickBooks and have some undesirable results.  To really succeed in business you need to get a handle on this.  How and why does this happen and what is the fix.

Why Does This Happen

In this situation the problem is not what it appears.  The problems starts with a focus on entering transactions and neglecting to look at the end product.  Many business owners check the bank register but don't regularly look at their Profit and Loss Statement and even more seldom is a review of the Balance Sheet.  What happens is QuickBooks is being used to track activity in bank accounts and manage invoices and payables and maybe payroll but it ends there.

Failing to look at the end products, the Profit and Loss and the Balance Sheet, causes two problems.  First, as discussed above often times entries don't get put in the right categories and it is not discovered until the end of year when their CPA asks for their financials in order to prepare the tax return.  Then there is a tremendous amount of work at that time to cleanup the books just to have the tax return done.  Many business owners pay someone to cleanup their books at year but interestingly they don't figure how to fix the problem going forward so they repeat the same results and frustration the next year.

The second problem is you are not getting value out of your investment in your QuickBooks software and more importantly you don't really know how your business is doing from month to month.  This makes it really difficult to manage the business and identify problems and opportunities.

The Solution

The solution is to gain competence with QuickBooks.  There are a few ways to do this.  One is to take courses on using QuickBooks and then apply what you learn.  A second option is to hire someone who is competent to do your accounting.

Another option is sort of a hybrid of the first two but still results in you being able to do your books "in house" but enables you to both gain competence in using QuickBooks and getting a real feel for how your business is doing on a monthly basis.  With this option you enter your transactions and I work with you to clean up what you have right now and in the process teach you to use QuickBooks correctly and see accurate results every month and discuss what they mean for you and your business.  Typically the initial cleanup with us working together takes some time but once it is cleaned up then the monthly reviews become easier and less frustrating and you both gain competence with QuickBooks and a get real feel for your business.  Many love this option because they get to maintain control over their accounting, keeping it "in house" and they are empowered to use Quickbooks as a management tool to grow in knowledge about business in general and their business specifically.

The advantage of working with me regularly is the repetition and learning from your actual monthly accounting rather than some hypothetical numbers in a class.  To me this seems a more valuable use of your time and a more effective hands on way of learning and progressing.  It will also empower you to do what you want, which is to do your bookkeeping "in house" saving you some frustration, time, and money.  Right now it is frustrating and maybe something you don't want to think about it but it can become a strength for you as you gain competence and give you real working knowledge of your business.

Keep the End in Mind

Think about when the time comes to cash out and sell your business.  After taking this approach you will know you have good financials to show potential buyers and you can speak intelligently about what those numbers reflect.  As a potential buyer I would feel more secure in making a offer for your business than for one whose books are a mess and it is clear they don't really know what is going on.  On the other hand, the guy who does not really know what is going on might not know what his business is really worth.


Success often results from doing what others won't do and many times what you really don't want to do.  You can become more successful and more knowable about your business and gain freedom from frustration, saving time and money. Please feel free to contact me using my information below to discuss how we can work together to help you with your accounting, your income taxes and your business.

I am Jeff Haywood, your CPA Superhero

Jeff Haywood, CPA 

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My posts contain general information that does not fit every situation, they are not all inclusive, and as always for your tax situation everything "depends on facts and circumstances."  In addition, the information/IRS requirements are always subject to change.  So call me to talk about your specific facts and circumstances and what you want to accomplish.

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