When you dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur, bookkeeping probably wasn’t part of the fantasy. You imagined product on shelves and in hands, smiling faces, maybe a brick-and-mortar. Boxes full of receipts and nights spent over a spreadsheet? Not so much. But the reality is that bookkeeping and accounting are the activities that keep your business afloat, and it’s worth investing in.

Many entrepreneurs begin their bookkeeping with a simple Excel spreadsheet or Word document. This can certainly work, if you have a knack for numbers and some basic experience. But for many others, keeping manual books only compromises the efficiency of your business. An accounting software, like Bench or Freshbooks, can do much of the heavy lifting for you. But what you need depends on your abilities, bandwidth, and knowledge.

Bench: Real CPAs, Online

If you’re a newbie to the accounting world, a bit more personalized help might be in order. But hiring a CPA isn’t always in the budget! If you need a hybrid solution, in which your books are done by real people but you can make changes online, this could be for you.

This guide, from Bench, outlines many of the bookkeeping questions you’ll want to ask yourself at the outset. Single-entry or double-entry system? Cash or accrual method? If you have no idea what any of this means, don’t fret. Their guide contains helpful explanations. And if you utilize their software, part of the Foodboro Toolkit, they can help get you set up with solutions that make sense.

Freshbooks: An integrated solution

Do you already have a method for bookkeeping? Do you have a good start, but need better automation (or integration)? Freshbooks, another Toolkit company, can help. Freshbooks will automate time-consuming small business tasks like invoicing, collecting payments, recording expenses, and tracking time. There’s even some project management tools in there, so all your work can live under one roof. It also integrates with Shopify and Stripe, so if you’re selling online, those transactions are instantly recorded. It’s more than an accounting software – it’s a set of solutions!

And P.S.: Freshbooks and Bench even integrate with each other, for a full complimentary suite of bookkeeping and accounting services. Find them both, as well as other essential food business software, in the Foodboro Toolkit!

(And P.P.S. – We’re hosting a Bookkeeping Webinar with Bench on February 12th! If you’re interested, email [email protected]!)