A good system for keeping financial records will help you set fair prices for your work, stay out of trouble with the tax man, and enable you to delegate bookkeeping when you become successful.
by Joseph Reichert
I have operated a specialty shop for several years, manufacturing one-off tooling for gunsmiths, shooters, reloaders and craftspeople. My operation has not yet outgrown a single room shop, a small office and a storage shed. I think myself justified in calling my enterprise a “small business” but it has started to turn a profit. Just as important to me is the fact that I enjoy the work, which has allowed me to meet many talented people.
My business has not required a heavy investment of money but it has definitely required a serious investment of time. Experience has taught me that we will pay with one or the other. If we want to conserve money, we will probably find ourselves hard at work on Saturday night, salvaging a worn machine, scouting for materials or otherwise making shift with what we have. In my case, making shift has included acting as my own business planner and bookkeeper, doing my best to measure the profitability of my work and pay my taxes in a timely way.
This article describes a system I have set up to keep my records, using a combination of freeware computer programs and forms I created to track my transactions. While I do not claim to have a one-size-fits-all system that you can simply pick up and run with, I am confident that many readers will find my way of doing things helpful and that many features will be adaptable to your operations.
Read more in our March 2013 issue. Back issues are available.