You have just started a new business and you keep meticulous records. You have been told it is important to keep your accounts in good order so every time you buy something you add the details to a spreadsheet and file the receipt away carefully in a folder. Things are quiet to begin with so you have plenty of time to keep up to date and you even manage to tick items off the bank statement.
The marketing pays off and you start to get some decent work, so much so that you have to spend your weekends catching up with the paperwork. It’s satisfying to see your sales figures heading ever upwards but it’s annoying to have to enter all those details off various till receipts.
So far so good.
Then a big job comes in, and just as you are finishing it two more appear. Before you know it, it’s been two months since you last sat down and did any bookkeeping. Occasionally you empty all the receipts from your wallet and stuff them in your desk drawer, or was it your laptop bag? Maybe both! It’s not a problem, you’ve put them somewhere safe and just for now you focus on producing your sales invoices.
Summer comes and goes in a whirl of juggling work with holidays and suddenly it’s Christmas next year and you know something called “Year End” is looming. Aware that you really must get your paperwork in order before you let your accountant have a look (you do have an accountant, don’t you?) you sit down on a dull Monday morning and start sorting your crumpled till receipts into piles. By half past ten you are bored to tears and by lunchtime you don’t care if you never see another scrap of thermal paper ever again. Luckily the phone rings and you have to do something else. You put the receipts in a box and vow to carry on tomorrow…
How am I doing so far?
Tomorrow does what tomorrow does and never actually arrives. Your new business is doing very nicely. In fact, you are rushed off your feet. Your accountant lets you know it’s time to hand over your records. After a while they remind you again. Then you don’t hear from them for quite some time but you do start to notice annoying HMRC adverts about not missing the January deadline. And then it is January and you wonder what happens if you do miss the deadline? It’s time to get those papers off to the accountant but it’s been so long you’re not sure where the box has gone.
What would you do now?
This type of scenario is one that I regularly come across. Some of my clients are very open about how much they HATE having to keep accounts and freely admit to leaving it for too long. Others (wrongly) feel ashamed of their failure to keep on top of their books and try to hide how bad things are. There really is no need – this is my favourite kind of work, partly because I happen to like bookkeeping and partly because the impact for my customer is so beneficial.
This what I call “Rescue Bookkeeping” and I call it that because I dive into that terrible pile of untouched invoices and till receipts and I turn it into a thing of order and beauty.
The story doesn’t end there, though. I might have rescued the immediate situation, but my job is not done until I have rescued the future as well. I think that may need a blog all to itself though!