Business Record Keeping

So you’ve started a business. And holy shit, you’re actually making some money! You get on with your bad self, girl! The one possible downside however, is that now you have to start, you know, keeping track of all that mad cash you're bringing in. Organizing your business records, keeping your receipts, and *shudder* filing a tax return - crazy, right?

But never fear- I’ll give you all the basics you need to know right here. A love of order and office supplies is a plus, but certainly not a requirement.

Separate Your Business and Personal Finances

Repeat after me, kids: “My personal and business finances are separate. My personal and business finances are separate. My personal and business finances are separate.”  That is your new mantra – hold it near and dear to your heart. It’s pretty much the First Commandment of record keeping.

Separate and distinct personal and business accounts are essential. Just do it. You’ll thank me later.

You don’t need to make a big production out of this, don’t worry! You don’t need an “official” business checking account, or a credit card in your business’s name. In fact, if your business is young, it will be pretty near impossible to get a credit card in your business’s name. Don’t worry about it. Just open a new personal checking account where you already do your banking and transfer some “seed” money into it. All business transactions will now take place from this checking account, not your personal one.

The same idea goes for a credit card. Simply apply for a new credit card under your own name. is a good place to look for cards with no fees and maximum rewards, whether you are looking for travel miles, points, or cash back.

And don’t forget about PayPal. If you’re accepting payments or making business purchases through PayPal (or another credit card processor), open an account just for your business. You don’t need the transaction for your eBay purchase of new shoes next to the invoice for your latest client.

Track Your Income and Expenses

Otherwise known as: bookkeeping! Learn to love it, kids – whether you do it yourself or outsource it to a bookkeeper, keeping accurate records is essential. How else will you know when you’ve hit your target sales goals or cross that six figure line?

Bookkeeping, especially if you have a relatively simple service based business (ex: coaching, consulting, etc), doesn't have to be complicated or scary. User friendly, almost dummy-proof software is available for little or no cost. They all import transactions directly from your bank, credit card, and PayPal. Some will even sync with your invoicing and time tracking software.

Here’s a list of my favorite bookkeeping software:

  • WaveApps: Free!
  • OutRight: Super user-friendly
  • Kashoo
  • QuickBooks: Both desktop and cloud versions available. Might be overkill, but consider it if your business requires you to keep an inventory of physical products

Expenses: Keep Your Receipts

Here’s a pretty good rule of thumb when it comes to business expenses: if you don’t have a receipt for it, it didn’t happen. I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true. If you can’t prove to the IRS that you actually shelled out cash for an expense you claimed on your tax return, well, you’re pretty much SOL. So, as annoying as it is, you've gotta keep all those little Starbucks receipts from when you had coffee with a client, and all the parking garage receipts from when you left your car at the airport for a business trip. Here’s a few hints to make this a bit easier for yourself come tax time:

  • Paper receipts: write a keyword at the top for what the purchase or expense was for. If you took a client out for dinner, write their name on the receipt. If you bought printer paper at Walmart, write “Office supplies” on the receipt. Then, toss the receipt in a file folder (more details on the file folders in a minute!), and you’re good to go!
  • Virtual receipts (AKA: order confirmations, electronic bank statements, etc): Save a PDF of the confirmation in your “Bookkeeping” file folder on your computer. Back that sucker up. Back it up again.
  • Car Mileage: Here’s a great tip, from me to you: if you use your car for business purposes (driving to see clients, to conferences, to pick up supplies, etc), keep track of that mileage – it’s all deductible! The easiest way to do this is to throw a pocket calendar in your glove compartment, and whenever you drive somewhere for business, make a note of that mileage in your calendar. When tax time comes, voila – a perfect record of your business mileage for the year!

Organizing and Filing

Ahh, this is my favorite part! I’m not kidding. I love setting up file folders with lovely typed labels, and putting everything in order. It’s a little thing I can control in this crazy world.

Don’t worry – I’m not going to make this complicated or expensive. All you need are 12 file folders. I personally like pretty colored ones, but plain manila ones are acceptable as well. Here’s what you do:

  • Label the 12 file folders with the months of the year: Jan, Feb, etc. Create the same folders virtually on your computer nested in a bookkeeping folder.
  • Put anything bookkeeping or tax related you get during any given month into that month’s folder. Things that would go in the folders would be: receipts (that you’ve written a keyword on, as suggested above, of course!), statements from credit cards, checking accounts, cell phones, etc, and deposit slips (if you have an old fashioned business where people pay you in cash or checks)
  • At the end of the year, after you’ve filed your taxes, bundle all the folders up into an Archive file or box, and tuck them away. Do NOT destroy your records yet!
  • Buy 12 more folders, label with the months of the year. Lather, rinse, repeat.
  • I repeat: do NOT destroy last year’s records! In some circumstances, the IRS has up to 7 years to go back and audit you and your business, so keep those archive boxes for a full 7 years! After the 7 years has passed, you are free to shred, burn, or compost your records.

And there it is! See – I told you record keeping wasn’t so bad. Keep your business and personal finances separate, invest in some easy-to-use bookkeeping software, keep your receipts, and have a simple organization system. That’s all you need. Now step away from the file folders and get on with rocking your biz!

Do you have a system for handling your business finances?

P.S. Want to show others how easy business record keeping can be? Tell them on Twitter!

Weekly Finds

Welcome to One Woman Shop Weekly Finds- where we scour the web to bring you a curated list of posts, links, and resources that we think will help your business- and maybe even your life!

weekly finds

Not convinced about the value of Twitter for your business? Here are 100 facts and figures from Social Media Today- and why they matter to your business.

Nervous to reach out to a busy expert in your field? That's okay, as long as it pushes you to prepare appropriately. Selena Soo shares the dos and don'ts of getting noticed by industry VIPs.

We're suckers for Alexandra Frazen's helpful fill-in-the-blank templates on her blog- especially this one: a reality check on creating a complete business model for your business (hint: "working on a novel" isn't it).

Launching a new product or service? Don't just stick to the same old, same old Facebook posts. Amp it up a notch with these tips from Rise to the Top. Our favorite: provide tons of behind-the-scenes content (by the way, have you registered for our behind-the-scenes webinar?).

Headed out of town or away from your business for a few days? Zoe Rooney wrote a post that's jam-packed with tips for returning to an inbox that's not too overwhelming- follow her system.

Are you a sucker for learning new ways to effectively Google search? Then you will have a nerdgasm (thanks to Amy Chick for this phrase!) over on Google Inside Search, which gives you a look into Google's search engine. Don't forget to learn some time-saving new tricks while you're on the site!

Remember when The Busy Trap article came out in the New York Times? If you needed even more reasons why the busy trap is no good, here are five pitfalls of busyness.

Two Takes: Getting Dressed in the Morning

One woman made waves on LinkedIn Today awhile back when she encouraged women working from home to "never, ever wear your slippers!" When it comes to the question of whether getting dressed in the morning matters, everyone seems to have a different opinion- so we took to the streets social media to find out what you all thought.

We asked: "Some women strongly believe that getting dressed every morning is critical for productivity and business success, while others say they do just fine working in their pajamas. What’s your preferred morning outfit?"

Not surprisingly, we got a variety of responses on both sides- all of which we think contain valid arguments. Without further ado, we present you with:

two takes getting dressed in the morning

I work from home and I am also a Learning Coach for my kids who home school. In the morning, we have to dig into our work right away, so I brush my teeth and wash my face, but that is about it. I wear whatever I had on the night before, whether that be sleepwear or regular clothes. Once we are done with school and work in the mid-afternoon, I will get ready. As much as I would love to have time in the morning to get ready, I am much more productive when I get right to work. Getting ready in the morning is just an unwelcome distraction that makes me discombobulated and unfocused. It also makes me feel behind on my work, as my clients are in a time zone 2 hours ahead of me. Spending less time on getting ready is one of the things that I love most about being self-employed and working from home.

I know that to run a successful business, especially from home, one needs the correct frame of mind. Every successful entrepreneur faces the day with the feeling of conquering the world- one simply cannot conquer the world in pajamas.

I started my journey of working from home a few years back. I worked online, which meant I didn't even need to shower to go to work. One day I read an article about working from home professionally. This meant setting a schedule, having a home office and to my horror, getting dressed for business. But, for the first time, I felt like a real business women working from home. There was something about the whole act of being clean and presentable that changed my attitude toward working.

Getting up, getting ready and following a routine every day sets the stage for entrepreneur victory. Routine is key to success in any venture, especially business. And part of a successful routine is preparing yourself for your work day. Getting ready, "commuting" to your home office, and checking your schedule and task list is all part of prepping. So should getting out of your PJs. Be presentable and ready to meet with anyone online or off even if you never do.

-Allie, Ramblings of a WAHM

What do you think? Weigh in in the comments!

How To: Make Your Facebook Photos Bigger

Welcome to our How Tos, where we provide you with specific step-by-step instructions for common business questions. 

You're scrolling through your Facebook feed and you see a small thumbnail -- and then you scroll further and see a big, bold photo that grabs your attention -- which are you more likely to click on? If you're like us, the big photo will naturally draw your eye. So, as a small business owner working to spread the word about your brand, why would you stick to using small thumbnails that people will likely pass over in their newsfeed when you can be using stronger, bigger visuals that actually capture attention?

Here's how to leave those thumbnails in the dust and replace them with attention-grabbing images!

  1. First, find or create an image (ideally 403px by 403px) that you would like to include in your Facebook status and save it to your computer
  2. On your Facebook page, insert your desired link under “Status." Facebook will automatically pull in a thumbnail from the link, like this:

how to make facebook photos pop

Yikes! Do not post yet- we've got to fix this biz up. Click the x in the upper righthand corner of the box that contains your new link:

how to make facebook photos bigger

Click “Photo/Video” then “Upload Photos/Video” like this:

make facebook photos bigger

Find the photo on your computer that you would like to upload to the Facebook post and select it.

increase size of facebook photo on timneline

Click “Post” then voila! A big, pretty image, like this:

example of a big facebook photo on timeline

Much better, huh? If you liked this trick, spread the word by clicking to tweet below:

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Two Women Shop: Clarity on Fire

Welcome to Two Women Shop, an interview series that gives a little love to our friends who may not be One Woman Shops- but are awesome nonetheless. Join us as we chat with sisters, best friends, and business partners who are going it together as Two Women Shops!

two women shop clarity on fire

Tell me about yourselves and your business!

Clarity on Fire (formerly Project 20-Something) is a life, career, and relationship coaching company for women in their 20s and 30s who are looking for clarity, direction, and an action plan for creating a life they love.

We're Rachel East and Kristen Walker, two twenty-somethings with a burning passion for changing lives. So, long story short: We became coaches because we were both incredibly, mind-numbingly tired of "the way things were." Desk jobs. “Meh” relationships. Dull routines. They were tired, boring, and exhausting. And they were also, most importantly, unconscious. So, we got conscious. We realized that life doesn't have to be "the way it is." There's no joy in adhering to what society, or anyone else, thinks you "should" be doing. As our self-awareness grew, we felt called to help other women build consciousness and make bold changes, too.

What prompted you to go into business together? Was it a natural decision, was there an aha moment, did it take a lot of thought?

For us it was a natural decision. Since college, we’ve known that we both were passionate about helping women raise their awareness and become empowered to change their lives. Our business ideas have taken a lot of forms over the past few years (writing, therapy, and finally coaching), but there was never a question of starting the business together. It helps that we’re also best friends.

What do you wish you had known about when starting a business?

It takes longer than you think! There are a lot of logistical steps of starting a business – legal and financial, mostly – that people without business degrees might not necessarily understand or be inclined to jump into. If someone had told us to consult with a CPA before we started our business, instead of afterward, it would have saved us a lot of time and confusion!

What do you wish you had known about starting a business with your best friend?

We would have gotten a lot more done from the get go if we had separated our tasks according to our strengths and interests, instead of just splitting them in half. We realized that splitting things down the middle might be “fair,” but it wasn’t balanced. The balance occurred when we learned to completely give responsibility to one person or the other in any given area of our business. Kristen really enjoys networking and blogging and Google Analytics, so she's “in charge” of those things. Rachel loves to negotiate and speak in public, so she manages our partner relationships and writes all of our audio content. We learned that as long as both of us were feeling exhilarated and excited about our roles, then we were on the right track.

Do you have rules to keep your relationship healthy and sane? Do you have any kind of written contract/rules between the two of you?

We don’t have any written contract as of yet, though that’s on our “to do” list, eventually. It helps that we’re in the life coaching business, because conflict isn’t something that’s going to happen very often between two trained coaches. We know how to be direct, honest and intentional in how we communicate with each other, without pushing the other person’s buttons or creating any misinterpretations. I think one of the most important things in any business partnership, especially one between close friends, is to always be direct and open. There’s no room for passive-aggression or misinterpretation in a two-woman business.

What are the greatest rewards and challenges of running a business together?

The greatest reward is having a friend who gets to share in the excitement of running a business that you’re both passionate about. It’s very cool to get to share part of your “life purpose” with someone who gets it as well as you do.

The greatest challenge is probably the compromises you sometimes have to make. When you’re a sole business owner, every decision is your own. With a partner who is as equally invested as you are, you have to reach a certain harmony about most everything prior to taking action. We’ve compromised on a number of things (creative, logistical, etc.) that we probably would have done differently if either of us had been flying solo.

Any words of advice for best friends or sisters going into business together?

Don’t go into business with just any old friend or family member. There are certain people who you’re going to have a lovely relationship with … so long as it’s kept personal, and maybe at a distance. Being business partners with a friend or relative means you’re going to see a whole lot of them, talk to them often, and have to make decisions with them about things that you could very well disagree about. So make sure you can have healthy disagreements with your future business partner, and that you’re comfortable adding business into an otherwise personal relationship. They often don’t mix, and one of them (the relationship or business) could implode as a result.

In our business, I think we have an understanding that we’ll always be friends first, business partners second. We’ve openly acknowledged that there may come a time when we choose to go our separate ways as business partners, but we’ll always be each other’s friend.

rachel east and kristen walker

P.S. If you loved this interview, show Kristen and Rachel some Twitter love!

What to Do When There’s Nothing to Do

Let me guess: you’re reading this post because, despite all the work you've been putting into your side hustle or full-time biz, you have nothing to do. No client work, no emails that need answering, no voicemails to return.

You can literally hear the clock ticking.

I’ve been a full-time freelancer (part wedding planning, part writer/blogger) for almost a year and if there’s one piece of truth that I’ve found in my first year of freelancing, it’s this:

You will be incredibly busy. And then you will be incredibly, well, not busy.

While there are plenty of posts about how to spread freelance work around so that you’re mildly busy all the time instead of toeing the extremes of being so busy that you can't breathe immediately followed by hearing crickets, I have yet to learn how to do that. And if you’re anything like most freelancers in their first year or so, you won’t know quite how to handle it either.

slow business times

Without further ado, here’s what I recommend doing when the crickets are chirping and you’re pretty sure you’re never, ever, ever going to get another project.

Go for a hike / bike / dance party / happy hour at 4pm on a Tuesday

Just like with an office job, sometimes you will be incredibly busy and other times you will be able to take long lunches. The reason this isn’t more panic-inducing at your office job is that in freelance life, you never know when those incredibly busy times will hit you (and your office job pays you no matter if you’re fiddling around on Facebook or up to your eyeballs in status reports). Try to remind yourself of the crush of the work that you just crawled out from under (or that might be approaching) and give yourself a free pass to relax. I promise that the worst thing you can do is sit at home all day, watching Mad Men reruns and obsessively refreshing your inbox to see if you have any more project requests (not like I, uh, have ever done that before).

Clean out your inbox

Speaking of your inbox, clean that business out. When I’m not busy I try to get it under 10 emails (usually 2 videos my best friend sent me, an e-gift card and a recipe for summer squash risotto)- which means I pay all of my bills, reply to any outstanding emails and transfer any emails that require cataloguing to my “To Do” folder. This way, I’m better prepared when I get 50 emails in one day from clients needing work ASAP.

Tidy up around the house

Not your actual house but your business’ house. I try to keep a running To Do list on my white board of “eventual” projects for my website. Write a blog post for your blog, send out a newsletter regarding the projects you just finished, make a Twitter list of all those editors/designers/wedding stylists you’ve been meaning to interact with. Pay all of your bills (in fact, dedicate an entire morning to just bill paying so you can be done in one fell swoop) and even get your desk organized. You’ll feel way better and ready to work when you get your next project.

Take care of yourself

When I’m not busy, I crave time with other people so that I can feel like I’m not wallowing in my apartment, biting my nails and wondering if I can pay my internet bill this month. When you’re not busy with work, reach out to your buds and seek their support. Get a manicure, go to yoga or take 30 minutes to run up and down the hill behind your house. The first thing to go when I do get busy is my self-care, so trying to make this a habit every day when you aren’t worrying about hitting client deadlines means you’re likely to stick with it when you do start getting inquiries again.

Engage in some marketing work

Reach out to your five favorite bloggers and ask them if you can write a guest post on their blog about your services or a topic their readers might be interested in. If they regularly accept guest posts, I bet they’d be stoked to have a quick content turnaround on something that you’re an expert in. The best part about this is that it feels like you do have a project to work and all it takes is a well composed, simple email to get the ball rolling.

And whatever you do, do not panic.

I promise, if you stop thinking about it and have goals for yourself each day (even if it’s only 3 small ones), you’ll be much more organized when the clients do roll in. And they will. Trust me.

What do you do when you experience slow times in your solo business?

Shop Talk: Hidden Gems

Welcome to Shop Talk, where we chat about everything from the business processes and procedures you swear by to how you handle tough situations (like letting go of a client) to what gets you up on Monday morning. Give us a sneak peek into your business and let yourself inspire (and be inspired by!) our community.

We often hear the same "A List" names floating around the women's entrepreneurial world. Don't get us wrong, we love us some Marie Forleo, but we want to know: which flying-under-the-radar women do you look up to in the business world?

Motivation Monday: Do Less List

Join us every Monday morning for Motivation Monday, where we share a helpful “homework” assignment that gives your business a creative boost and gets you thinking (and moving) outside the box each week.

Our days are consumed by more, more, more. More productivity, more progress, more...stuff. But sometimes we need to do less...less incessantly checking our site stats, less seeing how many people signed up for our MailChimp email list, less checking our Twitter mentions throughout the day.

Today, make a "Do Less" List- write down the little things you do throughout your work day that aren't productive or useful. Think: checking Facebook too often, checking your email over and over, or peering into the fridge mindlessly.

Then make a note each time you do the activity. The simple act of writing it down will remind you to think twice before doing it, which means less time spent doing unproductive activities and more time spent growing your business.

Want a simple template to use? We made one just for you 🙂

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Did you find this idea helpful? Tell others about it!

It Can Wait Pledge

Does this sound like you? You run by Starbucks to pick up a Venti soy latte. You're running a few minutes late to a client meeting, so you pick up your iPhone to shoot a quick email to said client as you pull out of the parking lot.

We get it (trust us, we get it!)- as a solopreneur, you're busy. But it's important to remember the risks we take each time we decide a text must be answered, an email must be sent, or a Candy Crush level must be won while we're on the road.

That's why One Woman Shop supports the It Can Wait Pledge, which reminds us that no text (or email or blog post or tweet or Evernote) is worth the risk.

Not convinced? Here are some scary stats: according to the official government website for distracted driving, sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds- at 55 mph, that's like driving the whole length of a football field blind. In addition, engaging in visual-manual tasks- like reaching for your phone, dialing, or texting- triples your risk of getting into a car crash.

Are you in? Welcome to a life of safer driver! Help spread the #itcanwait concept to your community:

Thank you for helping keeping the roads safer - both for yourself and others!

How To: Find (Almost) Any Email Address

Welcome to our How Tos, where we provide you with specific step-by-step instructions for common business questions. Have a tutorial you would like to see us provide? Let us know!

Ooh, do we have a good little trick up our sleeves today! You know those times when you've searched all over someone's website only to come up blank on an actual way to contact them? Maybe they've hid their email address to prevent email overload or maybe they just overlooked the fact that it's nowhere to be found. Either way, if you're dying to make direct contact (tweets, Facebook messages, and repinning their pins doesn't count here!), then read on.

Use this trick to make contact with potential partners, establish a relationship with a hot shot in your industry, seek sponsorship from a company, or recruit a contractor.

Note: in order for this to work, the person must have an email address tied to their domain. So, you wouldn't be able to find a Gmail address- the person must have registered [email protected].

Here are step-by-step instructions for finding (almost) any email address.

  1. First, find and note the domain of the person you want to contact
  2. Plug the following formula into Google: "*" (that's quotation mark, asterisk, quotation mark, the @ sign, and then the domain you want to search), then search
  3. Scroll down the results pages until you spot what looks like a valid email- it might be the the person's name, [email protected], [email protected], or something else (f this doesn't work, there may be no email address registered with that domain, so you'll need to find a different way to make contact)
  4. You now know that you've found a valid email and can use it to contact the person directly!

Megan of Flawed Perfection Jewelry has graciously let us use her website and email address as our example. Let's say we want to to contact Megan about a partnership- if you pop over to her contact page, you'll see that her email address isn't listed. If you're hellbent on finding her email address, try this: Google "*" and note the link from about halfway down the page:

little email address trick

Aha! We now know that Megan uses the email address [email protected] and can get to work on contacting her!

Was this trick helpful? How are you planning to use it?

P.S. We did a follow up post on other tricks for finding email addresses if this one doesn't work!

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