10 Simple Steps to Control Your Business

I own an active business, plus I own rental properties. We have over 300 bills to pay each month between the two. While I was employed, my wife stayed home and took over the bill paying. She didn’t keep on top of it, and it got totally out of control. I took charge of both and set up the following rules:

  1. Mail that comes in that day is opened, reviewed, and processed that day. 
  2. The active business bills are paid and booked into QuickBooks immediately. For the active business, we average eight to ten bills per day, and booking them takes less than 30 minutes per day. 
  3. The mortgages for the rentals are paid automatically, and I set up QuickBooks to journal them automatically. The average number of bills for the rental business is one per day (24 per month), and the check is issued the same day the bill arrives, placed in the envelope, stamped, and addressed. 
  4. Ditto for personal bills, averaging one per day. 
  5. I start with active business bills 7:30 each morning, and finish by 8:00, recording all bills paid the previous day. 
  6. Rental and personal bills are done daily as soon as I go home at 6:00pm. My schedule is as follows:
    • Open and review mail: 15 minutes max
    • Review and write checks: 5 to 10 minutes
    • Record in QuickBooks 5 to 10 minutes
  7. All of it done at 6:30 PM. There is one day in the month that four utility bills come all at once, and I do two bills that day, and allow two the following day if I’m tired. If not, it’s done all at once, and I’m finished in 45 minutes
  8. Certain utility bills are to be reimbursed by tenants. I make a copy of the bill, do the transactions in QuickBooks, issue the invoice, and stuff the invoice plus bill copy into the envelope immediately.
  9. I could have saved 10 to 20 minutes if I had QuickBooks issue the checks. But operationally, I found it easier to write it, stick it in a envelope, then record it.
  10. I make the following rules for opening, reviewing bills, and writing checks:
    • Never touch a piece of paper twice. Don’t put stuff in different “to do” piles. Open the envelope, review, trash can the junk, or file (explained below).
    • Anything of interest to maybe keep is filed in a monthly miscellaneous file and disposed of the following year the same month. All my miscellaneous December mail goes into a miscellaneous December file, with the stuff from last December thrown away. This is done the first of each month.
    • If its something else, like a credit card replacing another, get to the phone and activate it immediately.
    • If its a bill, write the check immediately, stuff it in the envelope, address, and stamp it.
    • Rent deposits and bills are booked into QuickBooks the day it happens, not the next day or the day after.

So it’s one hour a day in two 30-minute chunks for about 300 bills per month. Do it once a week, and it will be a six to seven hour stretch. It’s too easy to slide back and lose control. My wife tried to do it once a month, and you can see what a mess it can be.

My rule is: As of 6:30pm, the desk that I use to do the bills is cleared, and I can see the wood. Just don’t let anything slide.

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By CREOnline Contributor

A content contributor to the original CREOnline.com.