Do you know what the #1 complaint is from every accounting professional – CPA, accountant, or bookkeeper alike? It’s not that accountants work crazy hours. It’s not that some of them hate dealing with the IRS. It’s not that they have to keep up with changing accounting and tax rules all the time. The #1 complaint from accountants is that small business put things off till the last moment – business owners P-R-O-C-R-A-S-T-I-N-A-T-E! We can all agree that business owners are busy – I know – I am a business owner. But, have you ever stopped to consider – could your procrastination be seriously hurting your business finances?
Why we procrastinate
Here are some reasons why we procrastinate:
- We don’t know what to do
- We don’t know how to do it
- Our need for perfectionism
- Our fear of failure
These reasons lead to negative feelings about ourselves and about our business finances. It’s no wonder then that business owners procrastinate when it comes to their finances. They have accumulated negative feelings about the financial side of their business primarily because they don’t feel comfortable with numbers or because they are embarrassed about their procrastination.
It makes perfect sense that most small business owners feel uncomfortable with the numbers side of their business. After all the majority of people are not financially minded and have never been taught how to manage money and business finances.
Now that you have some insights into why you may procrastinate, let’s talk about how your procrastination and avoidance behavior negatively impacts your business finances.
Let me share some stories with you.
It was October 10th and Michael, a small business owner contacted me. He sounded desperate as he said “I haven’t done my books for the past 3 years and I need to file my taxes by October 15th. Can you help me?”
Another business owner, Maria, has not filed a tax return in 7 years. She still can’t seem to bring herself to gather the records she needs to start getting her books in order. Every year that goes by makes the task of getting her business finances organized becomes unsurmountable.
Stephen works with an accountant on a monthly basis and pays for monthly services, which include receiving timely and accurate reports each month. Stephen fails to respond to his accountant’s questions. He completely avoids talking to his accountant and never looks at his financial reports.
Taylor keeps getting letters from the IRS and won’t find the time to open the letters. The letters from the IRS are piling up and Taylor hides them in his desk drawer.
Why do I share these stories with you? Because procrastination and avoidance behaviors are very common for small business owners. There’s no reason to be embarrassed but there is a reason for concern if this behavior continues.
Procrastination puts you in reactive mode
What is the consequence to your small business? Procrastination and avoidance behavior puts you in reactive mode. Rather than being proactive – you are continually reacting to the only thing that makes you get your books up to date – filing a tax return or fear of getting in trouble with the IRS.
Wouldn’t it be better to allow your accountant to help you? That is what they are desperately trying to do, and that is what they are trained to do – to help you get caught up and to bring you out of reactive mode into proactive mode. Wouldn’t it be great if instead of always reacting to tax deadlines, you could spend time with your accountant making sense of your financial reports, gaining clarity and focus, and planning for the future of your company? Your accountant won’t judge you for your past behavior – they will welcome the chance to help you.
Your accountant won’t judge you for your past behavior – they will welcome the chance to help…
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The most important thing to remember about procrastination is that we are all embarrassed about our procrastination and avoidance behaviors. Procrastination is normal but if we want to be successful business owners, we have to find a way to deal with our procrastination so that we can get into “planning mode” instead of “reactive mode”.
Beating procrastination can be difficult, the key is to get small continuous wins. Here is what I recommend:
- Positive affirmations – here are a few of my favorites that I learned from the book “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy:
- I am absolutely clear about my goals and objectives, and I don’t deviate from them.
- I have definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what I want, and a burning desire to achieve it
- I am the kind of person who gets important jobs done quickly and well on a consistent basis
- I am an action-oriented, fast moving, and focused person.
- If you work on your own bookkeeping – schedule small chunks of time consistently on your calendar to work on your bookkeeping. Can you do 5 to 15 minutes a day?
- Break up big projects into small tasks – if you are behind on your bookkeeping more than one year – work on one month at a time. Focus on small projects and avoid thinking about bigger projects. Can you work on one month at a time?
- If you need the help of an accountant – contact an accountant to help you get caught up. Be prepared to provide them with bank statements and other records that they will need. Again, break everything up into small tasks – work on one request at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.
The Daily 5 in 5 checklist
The team at 5 Minute Bookkeeping created a checklist to help you avoid procrastinating on your financial tasks. It’s called the “Daily 5 in 5”. It includes the 5 tasks you should be performing in QuickBooks every day in as little as 5 minutes a day. You can claim the checklist below.
Could your procrastination be seriously hurting your business finances? It very well could be. But, now you know that you’re not the only business owner who procrastinates. It’s normal. Wouldn’t it be amazing, though, if you became a proactive business owner and had total financial clarity? Wouldn’t it be great if you could plan for the success of their business and not react to deadlines? Let me know your thoughts and leave a comment sharing any tips for avoiding procrastination in your business.
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