Running your own business means it all falls on you. Finding the work, doing the work, making sure you get paid for the work, taxes, fees, equipment, everything. Sure you may outsource some things, but it still requires you ensure what is outsourced gets done. It’s a lot to keep track of and handle. These are all the business tools I used to help me stay organized, get paid, and manage my business’ money.
Just so you know, this post may contain affiliate links. Meaning I receive commissions for purchases made through those links, at no cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. You can read my disclosure policy for more info.
I’ve written before about using Trello and Asana. I use Asana for organizing everything but still use Trello because it’s what certain clients use. I also use a day planner to help me figure out how I’m going to get everything from my to-do list to my to-done list (see what I did there?).
I use Asana to manage everything. I like the list view that lets me know everything I have to do that day. Then the calendar view that lets me make sure I’m not dumping everything all into one day. Since I have several different projects that I work on regularly, I love that all the to-dos from each project show up in one place. It makes sure I don't’ accidentally skip over something if I don’t look at a project on a particular day.
I have two clients that use Trello and thus require I use Trello as well to pitch stories and set deadlines. It’s kind of nice to be able to find all the information about a story in one card rather than several emails. When I’m done, I just attach the story to the card and check off the due date.
While I love using digital organization, I also love writing things down and being able to cross things off. While Asana lists everything I need to do for the day, it doesn’t list it by when during the day it should be done. I use the Day Designer Planner to plan out my day to ensure all the tasks get done.
Doing the work is only half the battle, the other half is making sure you get paid. I have, on more than one occasion been paid late. It’s a pain to track down payment, but by staying organized, I never forget about an unpaid invoice.
Now, I use an excel sheet to keep track of all the work I’ve completed. It shows how much needs to be invoiced and the invoice number that is used. I do this because different clients have requested I invoice them in different ways. Some want a PDF invoice, others are ok being invoiced through PayPal, some want to be invoice using their own platform.
Using so many tools to send out and request money means I needed a central place to keep track of which invoices were sent and paid. While I invoice using different tools, I get paid in one of two ways, via Paypal, Direct Deposit, or a mailed check.
I use PayPal to send some invoices and get probably half of my payments through Paypal. So I may send someone a PDF invoice, and they will submit payment via PayPal.
In addition to my excel spreadsheet, I use Quickbooks self-employed (<- you get 50% off when you use my link) to keep track of my payments. It lets me link both PayPal and my bank account, and estimate how much I’ll owe in taxes so I can set that money aside.
My bar license requires an address that is public, so I have a P.O. Box, I don’t typically want people who are looking for an attorney to know my home address. However, having a P.O. Box has come in handy to give clients an address to send payment to. Not that there is anything wrong with giving them my home address, it just something I like to keep somewhat private.
It’s important to separate your business money from your personal money. This means that all income I make from my business goes into its own checking account and then I pay myself (send money to my personal account) from that account. It helps to keep everything on the up and up and to figure out taxes. So here is what I use to ensure I keep things organized and am setting aside enough for taxes.
As I mentioned before, I have a separate checking account. Though at this point it is just another “personal checking account” it’s not a business checking account in the eyes of the bank. The bank that I use by the way is Discover; I like that you can earn cash back on every transaction. Other great online banks include Chime, Capital One, and Ally.
I also have a specific credit card I use just for business expenses, I have bills on autopay, and I prefer putting any auto-pay on a credit card versus a bank account. I also like earning rewards with this credit card; it’s the Capital One Venture Card. There are better cards out there it is just one I happened to have and didn’t want to open another card at the moment.
Qapital is an app that lets you set up savings goals; you can do all sorts of things like save when you hit the step goal on your Fitbit, it’s a super fun app. Anyway, they also have a freelancer’s rule that will automatically save a set percent (I do 30%) when you get a deposit over a certain amount to your bank account.
Even if your business income is just coming from a side hustle, you need to stay organized and on top of it. You don’t want Uncle Sam coming after you for not paying taxes on this income.
Elizabeth Stapleton is the founder and voice behind Less Debt More Wine and ElizabethStapleton.com. She is a Pinterest marketer, online entrepreneur, and recovering attorney whose writing has been featured on Entrepreneur.com, The Huffington Post, The Penny Hoarder, Budgets Are Sexy, Credit Sesame, and Magnify Money. Additionally, she has been quoted in articles on Business Insider, Student Loan Hero, and Nerd Wallet.
2019 Reader Survey
How to Setup and Make Money with a Tripwire
Announcing: 7 Things You Need to Know to Legally Protect Your Blog Webinar