Failing to keep good financial records is like driving a sports car at top speed with your eyes closed. It may be ok for a little while, but eventually you will crash and burn. Perhaps one of your new year’s resolutions is to keep better financial records for your business. You may have pledged to finally tame the paper beast lurking in your office, or at least find your desk under all those receipts. But there’s one small problem.
You think the only way to achieve these goals is a painful one.
In fact, you believe that walking on broken glass would hurt less than “doing the books” on a regular basis. Fear not! Here are 5 easy ways for you to stay on top of your bookkeeping in 2012:
1. Make Friends with Technology
There are cost effective ways to make collecting and recording your business expenses easy. This is not a myth. I will not be suggesting you consult the Loch Ness Monster in the next bullet.
Despite being a finance geek I absolutely hate tracking expenses. Then one day I discovered Shoeboxed  and the world became a brighter place. Shoeboxed will convert expenses into an organized data file. No more typing in paper receipts!
The best part is that you can submit expenses just about any way you want short of carrier pigeon. Electronic receipts can be emailed, scanned copies of receipts can be uploaded for processing, and hard copy receipts can be submitted in the postage paid envelopes supplied.
2. Call In Reinforcements
Would you pay someone $100 to keep from being in a head on collision at 70 mph? How about $200? $1,000? In fact it is hard to give an upper limit because you know the effects of a head-on collision would be devastating, potentially fatal.
Wouldn’t you pay to save your business from a similar fate?
Technology alone may not be enough to conquer your accounting needs this year. A great solution that is easy on the budget is a bookkeeper. Shop around for a reputable one who will strive to stay within your budget and provide regular reporting on key metrics.
3. Visual Reminders to Open Your Eyes
Select a picture or graphic that reminds you of the consequences if you fail to follow through. Then select a graphic that depicts the benefits of success. My first picture would be a Pinto driving off a bridge, and the second would be a Porsche 911 Turbo convertible cruising down the Autobahn.
Put these on a page, print it, out and hang it on your wall.
4. Make Falling Off the Wagon Hurt
Keeping resolutions is hard. Creating new habits is hard. Only 19% of people who make resolutions actually keep them. Clearly positive reinforcement alone will not work.
Every month you fail to keep your commitment do the following. Get a one dollar bill from your wallet and say out loud, “I’m simply throwing money away.” Then tear up that bill and throw away the pieces. Need a bit more drama? Burn it instead.
If the $1 bill doesn’t make you wince, try a $5, $10, or even $100 bill. By not tracking your financials you are actually throwing away far more money than you destroy in this exercise. In fact, you may be about to drive your business right off a cliff and not even know it.
5. Be Publicly Accountable
While peer pressure was the bane of your existence in high school, now it can be a very effective tool. Declare your bookkeeping intentions. Not just to your Mom, your golf buddy or your dog. Declare it on your blog, this blog, or some other painstakingly public forum.
In your public declaration include a commitment to provide monthly or quarterly updates on your progress. Failure to post an update will cause people to assume that you didn’t follow through. Who wants that verdict in the court of public opinion?
Which of these ideas will work for you? Do you have another tip or trick that can help people tame the bookkeeping beast? I really will come back and check for updates in the comment section.
Porsch Photo  via Shutterstock