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How to Balance the Books on a Shoestring Budget

Chelsea Krause

Head Accounting and Invoicing Writer at Merchant Maverick
Chelsea Krause is the Head Accounting and Invoicing writer for Merchant Maverick, a small business software review site. Powered by a desire to see small businesses succeed, Chelsea specializes in transforming accounting expertise and research into helpful small business advice.

When you’re just starting up your business, every penny counts. You’d probably rather spend your already limited funds on marketing and growing your business, rather than on something as mundane as accounting. However, having a strong accounting process is the key to managing finances, and that means learning how to balance the books and maintain a budget.

This doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune on hiring accountants and purchasing software, though.

Read on for three tips to help your startup get its finances under control.

Use accounting software

Accounting software doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of affordable, easy to use options to fit the needs of all startups. Here are some of the most affordable accounting software options for entrepreneurs:

Wave

Wave is a completely free accounting program that doesn’t skimp on features. Wave offers invoicing, expense tracking, time tracking and more. The software also includes almost all of the accounting capabilities you’d expect from more expensive software, like a chart of accounts and a bank reconciliation feature.

In addition, Wave has strong customer service and gives users access to business loans.

SlickPie

SlickPie is another free option that is incredibly easy to use and offers strong contact management. Like Wave, SlickPie offers solid accounting features and customer support. SlickPie also has numerous integrations with other business management tools that your startup may find useful.

Zoho Books

Unlike Wave and SlickPie, Zoho Books is a paid accounting software, but a subscription is a mere $9 to $29 per month. While the software isn’t free, you get plenty of bang for your buck.

In terms of features, Zoho Books is almost on par with QuickBooks and has the best invoicing capabilities on the market by far.

It’s also worth considering that bigger accounting solutions, like QuickBooks Online and Xero, also offer smaller plans for startups. While these options can be on the pricier side, they will scale with you as your business grows, and you’ll get access to more features.



Track your expenses

Balancing the books is a lot easier if you know where your money is going. As an entrepreneur, you should be incredibly conscious of your cash flow at all times, particularly when it comes to what you’re spending money on. You should always keep a careful record of expenses, whether you’re using accounting software or just an Excel spreadsheet.

Fortunately, almost every accounting software offers an expense tracking feature. Make sure you actually use this feature to organize and analyze your expenses. By cutting unnecessary expenses, you can invest your cash elsewhere and make the most out of your limited startup budget.


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Create a budget

On that same note, it’s imperative to create a clear, detailed budget for your startup (and stick with it). Some software programs have a built-in budgeting feature. If yours doesn’t, there are plenty of free startup budgeting templates online.

By following the advice presented here, you will have a better idea of where your money is going and, ultimately, will feel more in control of your startup’s finances. With a solid accounting process in place, all you have to worry about is growing your business.

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