Take Back Control Of Your Money – Stephanie Thacker

stephanie rec



“The more your money work for you, the less you have to work for money"



  • Listen to a great advice to all people who are out there using Excel spreadsheets [6:27]
  • What are the common mistakes that Stephanie see people making when they're doing your bookkeeping [13:43]
  • Learn more about bookkeeping software [19:18]
Stephanie square


Salena Hey there and welcome to this week's episode of the bringing business to retail podcast we have been talking a lot about money in the last few weeks. We had money as one of our key features in the retail breakthrough series and here in Australia, it's pretty much tax time, so money is on everybody's mind. So, I thought to myself who better to get on the show then someone who can just really iron out all the wrinkles when it comes to what you need to know in keeping your books straight clean. I don't know what the technical term is for it but keeping them in in order let's use that word so welcome to the show Stephanie.

Stephanie: Thank you so much for having me, I'm happy to be here.

Salena: Now you founded a bookkeeping agency back in 2011 and you specifically help entrepreneurs. So, what made you branch out into helping entrepreneurs I imagine that we are maybe not the most organized of people.

Stephanie: Yeah, well what really made me realize that what I was so passionate about doing what I really loved doing as a job, I had been working in accounting for years, but I kind of always had this itch to start my own business and I realized you know what there are tons of entrepreneurs and small business owners out there that need bookkeeping assistance you know that don't need a full accounting department or even if they just had one bookkeeper full-time they don't need that but they do need that assistant someone to keep them accountable and just keep up the books for them and so that's really what in 2011, made me kind of branch out and say; okay this is something I know small businesses need because I had friends and family that owned businesses too that would come to me and you know ask for help with QuickBooks or just their bookkeeping in general and so that's really what made me realize there's a lot of people out there that really need this and it's one of those things in business that I think it gets put off sometimes until you know I kind of come to this realization of wow I have to do something like right now like you mentioned it it's taxed time.

Salena: The law says I have to fill in that form.

Stephanie: Yes, exactly, so yeah those are the things that really made me just go for it.

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Salena: So, I remember back when I had my first store using Excel spreadsheets and I thought it was gonna be so easy, all I would have to do is put in how much stock I purchased how many sales I had any expenses any wages and I'd be done, but it didn't really work out that way and I think…

Stephanie: That quiet.

Salena: No, I think when you actually start working with a bookkeeper, then you realize that you are probably making so many more mistakes than you ever thought possible. So, to all those people who are out there using Excel spreadsheets what advice do you have to give them.

Stephanie: Yeah, so don't feel horrible if you're using an Excel spreadsheet. I always say it's probably good for a certain amount of time there does come a time in your business though where, it really just makes sense to make that turnover into an accounting software and probably have a bookkeeper or someone you know in the bookkeeping accounting realm help you out and the reason is it's kind of like what you said there's just so much that you can miss from an Excel spreadsheet. So, you know you can only do so much it's hard to generate reports, so even if you're you know if you're small and you feel like you don't have that many transactions and maybe it's not worth it to pay for a software you can only do so much with Excel you can put in your expenses you can put in your income maybe put in some formulas to kind of figure out what you know your income minus your expenses is. But there's so much more that you can do with the software that really truly when you're bookkeeping is being done the right way that information I always say it's the cold hard facts of your business you can take what you're seeing and those numbers and make so many business decisions that you know that little bit of information that you have in Excel doesn't really enable you to do the same thing.

Salena: Now, in my course scale your store we talk about numbers around at the beginning and actually say as much as it pains me because I am not a numbers person like I do my books under duress and yes, I have a bookkeeper, it literally takes me five minutes to download all the reports that he needs. But it's just really those things it's like it's just one of those tasks that I'm like oh I wish I could even outsource of that to him. I kind of like to keep control of my bank account information but I know I can let him access it all that kind of stuff, but I kind of almost forced myself you know to spend that five minutes doing it because then I know I feel like I'm being accountable in my book work and I'm not just handing everything over.

But that's the thing when you have somebody who's out there my bookkeeper has said to me oh you know did you realize that you are supposed to be doing XYZ or did you realize that you have three unpaid invoices that people are you money for and I'm like oh really great let go join those people up and like I said in the we talked about the numbers right at the beginning because I have a little saying which is as much as it pains me pretty much most business answers are going to be found inside of your books.

Stephanie: So, true yeah.

Salena: whether it's inventory that's not turning over why you're not making enough money, why you don't have sales you know where your money is going all of that stuff is going to be inside of the numbers. So, you really have to have a firm grasp on what those numbers are telling you.

Stephanie: Yeah, you're so right, I mean that's just like I said those are things that at some point an Excel spreadsheet just can't give you all of that information and whether your business is booming and doing great you want to be able to look at those numbers and say okay what is driving this success in my business, is it one product, is it you know multiple products you can look at that and say hey these are the ones that are doing great, these are the ones that aren't doing so great. I'm gonna focus on the ones that are doing great and then the same thing if you're on the office spectrum and you're not doing so great you can look at okay where am I spending my money is there like why is there more money flowing out then there's falling in and sometimes you start realizing things you know we sign up for three trials on things and all of a sudden we have this subscription that we see come through and we're like oh, yeah, I don't need that whereas, if you're not keeping up with that on an ongoing basis or you don't have a bookkeeper to help point those things out you know it could be a year or years that go by with expenses that you really truly don't need but you just kind of miss because you're not looking at the details and the numbers, so you're exactly right.

Salena: Yeah, can I give you a little example that I worked with a client once where we went through all the subscriptions and she worked out she had subscribed to Spotify for you know the forget the three months free for her fortieth birthday and she was forty-two when we had a look at her books and she eleven dollars ninety-nine per month for the last two years immediately that wasn't a business expense, but we just kind of you know pointed it out because it sort of made sense and oh my god, I've had like one hundred and eighty dollars or something for a service that I hardly ever use.

Stephanie: Right exactly yeah, it's little things like that and you think you know twelve dollars it's not that much, but it is when it adds up in over two years especially and when you're looking at your business going okay why am I not more profitable you know you take that times a few things that you don't realize going on and it really does add up.

Salena: I'd rather have that money in my pocket thank you very much.

Stephanie: Exactly, great.

Salena: One of the other things that I really love looking at when it comes to book work is how much you spent on marketing versus how many sales you've had for that same month.

Stephanie: Yeah, that's a good one, I mean that's a big one that will help our clients look at you know when they're asking us hey what's going on that's definitely one of the first line items that we go to and we'll say okay you've been spending money on this whether it's print ad or an online ad or paying someone to do Facebook ads whatever, it is and I'll say how many sales have you made from that ad specifically and sometimes they're like well it's not really you know and haven't really made much it's more of like people just seeing my name in that magazine…

Stephanie: Exactly, I'm like nope, there you go something some of those are expensive you know they're spending four, five hundred dollars a month and I'm like you're not giving any sales from it so, yeah you're exactly right that's a really good one to look at and you can even you can get really specific in your bookkeeping and break it down, I mean you can just have advertising or you can get really specific and say this is how much I'm spending on Facebook guys this is how much I'm spending on print ads and then you can go back and look you know over a period of time. Okay, I spent this much and then how much profit or how much revenue did I actually bring in because of those ads and then decide which ones are worth keeping and which ones should you just cut.

Salena: I often have the same and if you're listening to this podcast, it probably applies to you, you can't afford a brand awareness campaign you need a sales campaign.

Stephanie: Right, exactly, yes that’s true.

Salena: So, what are the common mistakes that you see people making like I'm sure that there are like five or six things that you probably you know slap your forward every time you bring on a new client or you've even got maybe got a check list or something because you know that pretty much every small business independent business entrepreneur is making these same mistakes.

Stephanie: Yeah, it's so true, I put together, I think sometime last year a blog post about the ten most common mistakes and it truly came from me like going back and emails and notes and CRM and things like that and just seeing like what do people come to us with and the biggest one really is not doing bookkeeping at all like that's I would say the biggest mistake in this area that you can make in your business you know is not doing anything at all because sometimes when people come to us like we talked about they are with taxes and they're like I need this like I've just been using bank statements for a few years and I feel like you know I haven't been filing the right thing.

So, then we have to decide okay how far back do we go and ketchup can be really expensive if you have a bookkeeping firm because sometimes people are late on their taxes. They're to three years late on their taxes to do all of that work at one time can be really expensive for your business and then it just it doesn't give you the history so especially for retail shop owners, it's so important to have that history of your sales you know when are your highs, when are your lows what are the products that are working and not working and so, when you're not doing it at all you don't have that history.

Now, again you know I don't want you to feel horrible if you're not doing anything, but you know you're hearing this you're listening to it. so, start now that way you can start building some history there's great reports out there that you can say compared to last year, compared to last quarter you know compared to two years ago, so that's one of the biggest things is not doing it all at all and then um if you are doing it I would say the second thing you know good job for doing it but another mistake is just doing it without any type of training or knowledge or just picking a random software out of the air to use that's probably the second biggest mistake because it can go wrong. So, a lot of things can go wrong accounting software's are great and a lot of them are user friendly, but if you don't have any formal training, if you haven't you know had anyone kind of sit down and teach you how to use it, there’s things going on behind the scenes that these accounting software's do for us that are great but if things up front aren't being input exactly right it could be creating a mess behind the scenes, an exam.

Stephanie: Yes, very costly, I mean that will lead me to another mistake is that you could be overstating or understating your income and your profits on tax reports because you know QuickBooks for example we use QuickBooks online with a lot of our clients we love it, but there are certain things that you have to know how to do in QuickBooks to make sure that you're not doubling income because QuickBooks does a lot of great things like brings in your transactions from your bank feeds that you're able to just categorize from there. But if you've also created an invoice and received payment on that invoice and you're not matching what's coming in from your bank feeds correctly you now have two entries of the income. So, we've seen clients come to us and when we get their books cleaned up and they file their first tax return after we've done their books they're like wow I mean this is way different than my last ones well it turns out they overstated their income so much because they had all these double entries going on that they didn't even know about and on the surface, you really couldn't even tell until you dig in.

Salena So can I put my hand up there because I have fallen into that category and I would love to get into the topic shortly about how to choose the right bookkeeper, but I chose a bookkeeping firm based on word of mouth and I wanted to use zero because zero integrated with our point-of-sale system. So, these people said look we're just currently moving over to zero this was probably ten years ago we're just moving over to zero we're still learning it but you know that's okay we're happy to get started and off they went and anyway here in Australia we file quarterly taxes that we have to reimburse to the government. So, it's called GST VIT in England you know same as your taxes as well and I got it and I was like I don't think we turned over that much money, it was a very quiet quarter is that winter quarter and I was like I don't think we did like I don't know maybe I'm wrong, but my bank balance does not look like we did that amount of money and so, I went to the bank balance and I was like just around half of that and it turned out they had done exactly what you just said they had mapped my EFT transaction.

So, my merchant facility transactions and also, I don't know how they do it because this is a technical thing map those to my sales. So, every transact that was coming in through my credit card reader which was ninety-five percent of them were being doubled up as sales, but I have not had some kind of idea of how much money my business was turning over. I wouldn't have picked that up, I would have just submitted it and paid twice as much tax as I needed to.

Stephanie: Yeah, that's a perfect example that's exactly what I'm saying that that can happen and it's really so easy to happen you really have to know what you're doing or hire someone that has that experience and I think you said like you know talking about how do you really choose a bookkeeper, we focus on in our firm we really focus on QuickBooks Online. So, if someone comes to us and they're using a different software we will tell them right from the beginning you know just FYI we only work with QuickBooks Online we can either you know convert you to that or we can send you to someone that we trust and that we know but that they work with that software and the reason for that is we weren't always that way and I realized in about the first year or two it's really hard to keep up with all of the changes that these software's make.

So, if I'm trying to offer my services using two or three different software's I'm constantly having to learn new things that I just found I couldn't keep up with them all, but if I choose one and I learned that one really well and all of the bookkeepers at our firm learn it really well and we do multiple trainings per year, we're gonna be experts in that software and we're going to be able to in turn serve our clients really well in that because we just really know that software, so that would be a big piece of advice that I would say you know when you're searching for a bookkeeper ask them you know how many software's do you work with or which one do you recommend. Honestly, it's kind of like you hear people say if you go to a restaurant and they have fifty things on their menu you know it's like the Chef Ramsay it's not gonna be great like you should only have a few things because the chef is gonna just be really good at those few things and stead of just whipping out anything and everything out of the kitchen and I feel like it's kind of the same way.

So, if they're like oh I'll use whatever you want to work with you know we work with all of them maybe reconsider unless they have if it's a large bookkeeping firm there's larger bookkeeping firms that have departments and they have a set of bookkeepers that are experts in one software and then instead of bookkeepers that are experts in another, so you might come across that, but if it's a small bookkeeping firm with just a few people, I would say make sure that they are really knowledgeable in one software and make sure that software is really truly going to work for your business talk to other people that are in the same type of business and using the same types of opt words that you are and say hey, do use this for your accounting and so how does it work for you because you know we're using all of these things right. We're using online carts and card processors it's great if all of that stuff can sync with your bookkeeping software. So, you know make sure that that will all work before you kind of commit to one thing.

Salena So, I'm gonna jump in there with yet another example, I've been through a little bit is okay that's why I really wanted to have you on the show because changing bookkeepers is super costly because inevitably the next bookkeeper always finds mistakes from the last bookkeeper and you can pay, I think I paid over a thousand dollars this time around to get a whole bunch of mistakes fixed and then I had to go and refile my tax bills and all that kind of stuff, but you say something about specializing in that one piece of software and the original bookkeeper who we had all the issues with did the same thing they used to send me an envelope where they would get me to post all of my receipts through for cross-checking. So, we entered all the data in but then they would take the receipts and they'd cross-check it which let's be honest that's gonna cost me money because someone is physically burned through every receipt and then it was that early.

I was at lunch with a friend and where it was a business lunch and like a networking event and she snapped a picture of the receipt on her phone and I said what are you doing? she goes oh I just put them straight into the zero app, I'm like what this is zero app why did these people not told me these like why am I think receipts in and then it got even better she said to me oh yeah, you don’t all of your staff timesheets inside of zero what again here are manually entering timesheets in because these people didn't know that I could be doing this and so your comment there of you knowing QuickBooks inside out whether you know whatever software you go you choose to go with finding somebody who knows that software inside out is seriously going to hack the time in your business because they're going to say to you, do you use the timesheet app, do you use the phone app did you know you could do these bank feeds all that kind of stuff. So, that is the thing where bookkeepers are worth their weight in gold if they know what they're doing.

Stephanie: Yeah, exactly yeah.

Salena So, good.

Stephanie: Yeah, you've had a lot of booking experiences, but it's so perfect for this conversation because it just shows it this stuff does happen like we talk to people with stories just like that every week.

Salena: Okay, before I ask you the next question, I will lead with this is what I teach you guys right I go through all the expensive mistakes, so you don't have to sew a next expensive you know super expensive mistake I made was I did not realize in my first year of business that you got taxed on your inventory if it was more than you started off with. So, I stupidly went and bought all this stock that all of my suppliers were selling off really cheap at the end of the financial year because I thought I was getting a bargain only to be with a giant tax bill because I was taxed on that new inventory.

Salena So, very good though.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Salena So, my question to you is what are some of these items that you see people overlooking because they just don't know any better?

Stephanie: Wow, that's a big one too, I think that one was on my list of mistakes you know with inventory and it might be different depending on where you live, but that's a huge one like people missed that they're not really keeping counts of anything and then it comes time to file taxes and you get the question of what was your true cost of goods sold for these revenue that you brought in and then what what's the inventory left in stock and it is like you know a deer in the headlights look right because they just really have no clue. So, I'm sorry can you repeat the question.

Salena Common mistakes.

Stephanie: Oh, yeah, so that's another big one and then I would say; once you're doing your bookkeeping another big mistake I see is like over or under categorizing your thing, so you know it's kind of like you stop using the Excel spreadsheet you're doing great and you're using a software you've chosen the one that you know works best for you now all of that's great, but then I see both ends right. So, most of the time whether you're using zero QuickBooks you know any of the accountineg software out there and they'll set up a general chart of accounts for you which is basically the accounts that you're going to categorize your income and expenses to.

So, sometimes I think people just keep those very general accounts and so we look at their books and they've got fifty thousand dollars in miscellaneous and it's like okay you can't do that because you're going to have to detail that a little bit more when it comes time for taxes and then we've seen the other side of that where a profit and loss report is you know five pages long because there's a category or an account for every little thing. So, I would say like find a happy medium for your business that really what you want to do is create accounts and make sure you're categorizing so that when you look at your books you look at your reports you can really see where is your money coming from and if you're an on in retail or retail at all you know you don't have to have an income account for every time you know dresses, shirts, shorts you know you don't have to have an income in your bookkeeping software for all of those because it's likely that you're you know ecommerce site provides that for you.

But you can get as I mean you can get as detailed as you want, but at the same time keep it kind of simple. So, if you're selling apparel and accessories and you know if you have three or four larger categories like that do that instead of every little line because you can go into your ecommerce site right and see oh this year I sold twenty pink larges of this item you know you can see the details there and then same with expenses office supplies you know you don't have to have paper, pens, ink, you don't have to have all of that, it can be office supplies, but you really want to stay away from broad categories like just miscellaneous or just business expenses you know because you're gonna have to report more than that on your taxes and for you as the business owner looking at your reports you really want to be able to see that detail and know really where's your money coming from and where is it going.

Salena I think one of the benefits that I've had when I've had a great bookkeeper someone like you has been pointing out things that I'm allowed to claim that I've just overlooked and so my example for this was when you send out a whole bunch of free stuff to magazines for reviews to bloggers you know you give it away as a competition prize you donate something to the local school, I was just making my stock zero like you know minus one every time, I did that and when I got a good bookkeeper she said to me but where how are you accounting for that and I said well I just reduced my inventory, see I am not perfect at these either guys and she's like no you have to create an invoice for that you know that is a marketing expense. I was like a marketing I claiming.

Stephanie: I mean things like mileage sometimes people don't think about you know if you're driving to the store to pick up office supplies, if you're driving to meet with a client or a vendor if you're driving to the store you know to pick up some wholesale items whatever it is mileage can be claimed you know the fine are not the finance charges, but the charges that you process credit cards and they charge you, you know three percent or whatever, it is that can be deducted that's a valid business expense.

So, that's another thing and sometimes a CPA will help with that you know when you're doing your taxes they might try to kind of dig things out of that fort you know and say did you have any of this did you have any of that, but you know that's only probably one time after the end of the year when you're filing your taxes. So, why not do it, why not have all of that throughout the year when you can really see okay yeah this is my expenses, it's not a bad thing to have expenses, it's not a bad thing to see your profit going down and down and down because hey you're you know you still you've made the money and especially things like that you send out one thing for marketing it might bring you two or three clients, so that's a great point.

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Salena I reckon we've probably convinced a whole bunch of people who are listening that it is now time to go and get a beekeeper. So, what do you suggest for people who are taking the big plunge and getting themselves ready to come and see somebody like you what do you ask them to put together.

Stephanie: So, if you have been doing something you know have that available for them it'll be so useful for them to see what you've been doing, even if you think it's a mess it's okay trust me we've seen it all like we're and we're not going to judge and say oh I can't believe this is what it looks like so whatever you've been doing whether it's an Excel spreadsheet or if you've tried four different accounting software's just have that accessible and bring it, any past tax returns would be great. If you don't have that you know have bank statements available or be ready to share that information, if you don't want to download those reports and everything yourself for your bookkeeper you know be ready to create an account for them or share your information.

So, having a history and then just being able to explain and really well you know what you do and what you're using. So, you know if you're an online retailer and you're using two different types of cards you know ecommerce and maybe you also go and do some pop-up shops and you're using like a square reader or something for that think about all that information before you talk to a bookkeeper because you know if you're talking to a really good experience bookkeeper they're going to be able to piece all of that together and say okay, this is going to be the best solution for you based on what you've told me. So, it's good to have all of that information up front rather than kind of learning it piece by piece later and then having to adjust.


Stephanie Thacker is the Founder and CEO of Steadfast Bookkeeping Co., a bookkeeping firm offering a wide range of bookkeeping and payroll services to small businesses all across the US. She is an all around Florida girl, enjoys being outside in the sunshine and proudly accepts the title of “number nerd”.

“Each week I interview industry and thought leaders for their take on business and life”