Managing the finances of a small business can be one of the most intimidating and challenging aspects of running a business. If you’re just not that into numbers (like me), it can be difficult to keep a balance between effectively managing your books and projecting for future growth. As a Business Librarian, we specialize in helping patrons find resources and provide instructional research assistance on topics related to business, but there's no direct focus on finance—we leave that to the professionals.
I am no finance expert, so I’ve relied on a few resources to help and I think they’re worth sharing.
Before we get into those resources, I want to make it clear that the most effective way to manage business finances if you don’t plan to do so yourself is to hire a professional accountant or financial expert, as they will be able to provide the most targeted and professional services to you, catering to your industry and your specific business needs.
I attend many business-related webinars, and across the board, it has been stated that the most important part of managing business finances is record keeping / bookkeeping. This includes keeping track of everything that flows in and out of your business financially. Not only does bookkeeping help to keep you organized, but it will help when it is time to file your business taxes. Many e-commerce platforms like Shopify and Wix will have built-in bookkeeping features, where they will track and store data from customer purchases that you can later aggregate into detailed reports. Here are some additional resources that can help you keep track of your business dollars.
General Finance Resources
SBA.gov offers information about business finances based on the stage of business. Under their Business Guide, they calculate startup costs for new businesses, manage finances for operating businesses, and provide resources on how to get more funding for growing businesses. Each industry and business will present different challenges for business owners, but the foundational financial principles remain the same in knowing what is coming into or leaving the business, keeping a record of everything, and constantly monitoring changes since finances will never be static (unless there is no money flowing in or out).
For more guided assistance where you can ask specific questions to experts, it may be feasible to apply for a business mentor from SCORE. These professional mentors can give more guided assistance based on your industry and specific business needs.
If you plan on handling your business finances yourself, education is key. Many organizations offer free workshops and recorded webinars that will cover topics ranging from financial statements and cash flow to budgeting and bookkeeping practices. SCORE.org and SBA.gov offer many of these workshops (both live and recorded) and can be found by searching their resource libraries under the finance category. PIDC also offers many workshops and resources on business finance topics for general business growth opportunities
Quickbooks is an accounting software package that is great for small and medium-sized businesses. The Free Library has the book Quickbooks for Dummies 2020, which is the most updated reference guide for best practices when using Quickbooks, as well as versions from prior years. Holds can be placed on books in our catalog and picked up at a neighborhood library near you. There are other web-based accounting software services available, but the most mentioned software is Quickbooks because of its ease of use, accessibility, and functionality.
The Business Resource & Innovation Center (BRIC) has also created a list of financial resources for entrepreneurs that include resources for crowdfunding, economic opportunities, and general financial education sources.
Again, if in doubt, working with a finance professional is a great option since they will have the highest level of expertise. It is always important to have a working knowledge of your business' finances, because you will always be the responsible party.
Good luck "keeping the books!"