Small Business Bookkeeping Tips: Top 10 Tips From a CPA and Veteran Corporate CFO

by Christopher Spellman on July 25, 2011

Small business bookkeeping tips are sometimes forgotten, but this can mean big trouble! We’re in your corner, gathering the best bookkeeping tips around.  Check out our series called, “Small Business Bookkeeping – Getting Started.

Today we’ve got some more great tips a CPA, former corporate CFO, and co-founder of a small business: Paula Soileau. Paula has over twenty years of corporate experience in accounting and finance and also draws upon her current experience starting a small business.

Paula offers us not just five…not just seven…but TEN top tips!  Here are Paula’s top small business bookkeeping tips:

  1. LET IT FLOW: Manage your cash and cash flow! Do projections, review them regularly, and be conservative. Be sure to consider the amount and/or likelihood of potential sales, current receivables, and lines of credit.
  2. NEGOTIATION PAYS OFF: Negotiate favorable payment terms with your vendors/consultants. Don’t be afraid to ask for deferred payments, partial payments, or anything that will help you manage your cash flow more favorably. It is amazing what you can negotiate if you ask!
  3. LEARN THE BASICS: If you don’t have basic bookkeeping skills, find someone who does. Make sure you understand basic financial reports - a P&L, a balance sheet, and a cash flow projection.
  4. KEEP CURRENT: Get a bookkeeper if you don’t have the skills, but whether you do it yourself or hire someone, make sure you stay on top of your financial situation. Old financial data is not very helpful. Review financial data regularly—monthly, if not weekly.
  5. GET ADVICE: Find trusted advisers and use them. Identify what skills and/or knowledge you need and find advisers who will help.
  6. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX: Don’t be afraid to be creative: not with your accounting, but with your business solutions and the options that you consider.
  7. HIRE INTERNS AS A “WIN-WIN:” Recruit interns to help in your business: in accounting, marketing, IT, etc. With a little training, a bright, capable recent grad could do the job just as well as a veteran, but for a fraction of the cost!
  8. BE AN OPTIMIST, BUT NOT A FOOL: Externally, it’s good to be optimistic. Internally, be realistic with yourself about sales, revenue, prospects, etc. Don’t have overly optimistic assumptions and fail to confront yourself with disaster scenarios. Always be prepared to take action when you might need to do so.
  9. YOU CAN BANK ON IT: Find a bank—small local banks might be best—that you can build a relationship with. Having a strong relationship with a bank can mean the difference between success and failure.
  10. KNOW HOW TO FINANCE IT: Identify and make contact with alternative financing sources so if you need them, you can take quick action.  This means companies that will buy your receivables, and so on. Knowing about them and establishing a relationship before you need them is helpful.

Thanks for these helpful tips, Paula!  If you’d like to contact Paula or her company, please see below

Paula A. Soileau, CPA
Affintus, LLC
(512) 296-0519

We’ve got even more tips coming! Stay tuned for plenty of great small business bookkeeping tips!  In the meantime, don’t forget to check out our recent series on small business bookkeeping!


And if you get stuck, don’t be afraid to hit the Panic Button.  It’s the only help desk for small businesses online.  No nonsense.  No kidding.

Don’t forget to watch our training videos.  Don’t know what a P&L is?  Don’t know how to prevent bankruptcy?  You can’t miss these videos, available to you 24/7.  Go to our Learn section to watch as often as you like.  Besides finding great small business bookkeeping tips, you’ll learn highly valuable tips you can’t afford NOT to watch!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Richard July 26, 2011 at 9:44 am

Paula, I found you by accident when I followed your link from another site and I am glad I did. You offer some excellent practical advise. I have saved you site to my favorites.

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