in entrepreneurship

Whiteboard Accounting: Stay Organized. Stay Sane.

One of my goals in 2011 here on Life Without Pants is to share with you, the readers, my entrepreneurial “wisdom” – keeping things transparent and offering up advice and information as I continue to learn and grow as a business-owner and entrepreneur.

Recently I stumbled across an idea shared by Frank Chimero that really resonated. In a recent post, he writes about a simple and effective concept known as Whiteboard Accounting. In short, Whiteboard Accounting is a way to stay organized with your finances – helping you understand visually what you’ve made, what you need to make, and how ‘on track’ you are with your goals.

Whiteboard Accounting is a god-send for someone like me, who loves making money, but hates thinking about it (I’m extremely fortunate to have a wife who’s the exact opposite and works with numbers for a living as an accountant). Whiteboard ¬†Accounting has already helped immensely in putting things into perspective. Knowing what I’ve made and what I need to make in a simple, easy to digest format lets me know what work to take on, what I can delegate to others, when to say no – and is critical to goal-setting and financial planning.

I encourage you all to watch the video above (can’t see the video? click here) and read Frank Chimero’s post about Whiteboard Accounting.

I’d love to hear what all of you are doing to stay organized and financially sane, especially during tax-time – and what tools/tips/tricks you’d recommend to myself and other entrepreneurs/freelancers/anyone out there. Feel free to speak your mind in the comments below.

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    • My pleasure, Jean. I’m the same way – love making money, but hate thinking about it. This is a great way to “sum things up” and put finances into perspective a bit. Cheers!

      • Wooaaaahhhh! I got up early today motivated to try this whiteboard idea. 7am on a Saturday! Then I realised – darn it – I don’t have a white board. I will get one and for now I’ve knocked up something in excel. Nothing fancy – no sums, just months with a bunch of ¬£250s under them much like Matt’s example.

        OK – now I check my reserves. I have next quarters tax plus a little more tucked away – let’s call that a “work related” (koff koff) gadget fund :) I have already drawn February’s income so Jan and Feb are struck off. I’m liking this drawing lines through stuff already. This month I have invoiced enough to cover March (cross, cross, cross, cross etc…) More liking.

        Now – I have an order book too. And I am pretty much wall to wall until the end of June. I’m taking a different approach with this as this relates to work I have been booked to do and haven’t done yet. So at the risk of complicating things I’m adding one more option into the mix. A mark to show confirmed orders. I’ve just marked these on my table. They take me right to the end of December. No more – no less. Right at the start of 2011 I received a tax rebate and used that to book a holiday (haven’t had one the last two years of start up mode). And now I can see a whole bunch of months in the second half of 2011 crying out for me to do more of the wonderful work I (and my customers so it seems) are so lucky to enjoy.

        So even more powerfully – I am sitting here looking at a growing and successful business. Before – I had a hunch. Now, well now I know.

        I’m off to cook up a bacon sandwich and have a few more business ideas. First one – I’m gonna buy me a white board!

        Cheers – Doug

  1. Matt:

    Thanks for the info., valuable advice,,,,It really helps in my opinion to ‘See’ the figures in front of you as you show here in my mind this is even better than having in a notebook that may get closed up for 2-3 days

    Matt

  2. Thanks Matt – this is a great concept. As someone who just installed full length whiteboards on 3 walls of my home office, I can totally appreciate the visual benefit of this. AND it occurs to me that this tool could be used for many things, other than just finances/accounting. This could be used for any other metrics/measurements that are important to track: # of blog posts, # of pages written, # of new customer leads, # of speeches delivered, or any other numbers. I think it would be terrific to take any specific goal, and make our progress towards that goal visual on a weekly or monthly basis. Thanks for the great idea!

    • No problem, Niki. Glad you found it useful. Did you do the white board paint? As soon as I stop renting and buy a house, my home office is going to be decked out in that stuff (assuming I can convince my wife that it will enhance my productivity) :)

  3. This is 100% awesome. I’m never in a set office anymore since I cowork so I set up a Google Spreadsheet with 12 months broken into $250 increments. Such a great way to see where I’m at each month. Thanks for sharing this easy, yet helpful, approach.

  4. Seriously, if I could make my office one big white board? I’d be the happiest person alive! I’m off to Costco tonight, and I’m already thinking, “I must have ANOTHER white board for my whiteboard accounting!” It’s so simple, that it’s even MORE brilliant. Cheers to you, Chevy! :)

  5. The technique is great for those who can’t really visualize accounting. It’s really helpful for those who want to have a ‘guide’ for accounting on a bigger scale (at least bigger than your daily expenses and profits, at least), as well as those who want to do simple accounting, but doesn’t have the capability (or the knowledge) to use an accounting (or any, for that matter) software.nnGood job, Matt!

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