The First Thing I COMPLETELY Outsourced In My Business
I’m not exactly proud of this…but as organized and streamlined as I am with my project and client systems…and as much as I love tracking numbers for metrics and analytics…you’d never be able to tell if you saw the state of my business financials earlier this year!
It was a weekend during tax time and I was sitting in my office with multi-colored highlighters and a million financial statements I had printed off that afternoon, desperately creating a spreadsheet to help me make sense of my 2018 income and expenses.
It’s not that I didn’t have fancy automated software or tools to help me...
Or like I had never invested in one-on-one time with a legit bookkeeping professional to help me get organized and trained on good financial workflows...
It’s not like I hadn’t spend hours and houuuuuurs looking for tutorials and blog posts on Pinterest and Youtube to help me make more sense of my business finances…
I guess there’s no nice way to say this, but…I naturally suck at managing my money and finances. And I spent a LOT of time and money trying to get better at it, when it obviously isn't my strong suit.
And I wanted to share that with you because I know I’m not alone!
Many of you are just like me and you’re a creative. And that takes up a lot of brain space.
Then managing clients, projects and doing things that will grow your business start taking up even more of your brain space than the creativity. And woof. You just don’t have much brain power left for finances (or is that only me??).
Now, I would actually consider myself an analytical creative. So normally, numbers and systems are my JAM. But when you throw money in the mix, shit just gets weird!
And I know I’m not alone. So many of us have weird feelings and habits around money…but what is there to really be ashamed of?? If so many people experience the exact same shame, is it really all that weird??
Okay PHEW thank you for letting me get that off my chest!
So. I found myself with this frustrating problem and kinda felt like I was backed into a wall. I shared my frustrations with a few business friends of mine and a couple suggested looking into Bench*, and after just one email exchange with them I knew that I should have done this much, much sooner. *Cue the angel choir!*
*This post contains affiliate links that can get you 20% off of your first 6 months with Bench Accounting*! I may earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) if you click through to grab your free trial and make a purchase. All affiliate links are noted with an asterisk!
First of all, everyone gets one month of bookkeeping with Bench for free so you can test out the waters.
This is actually where all of the heavy lifting is done (and by heaving lifting I mean following like 2 instructions to connect your bank accounts to their system).
From there they do their magic behind the scenes, then hop on a call with you to review your reports and give you a tour of the Bench dashboard.
If you use my link* and decide you wanna hire Bench, you’ll get 20% off your first 6 months with them!
Pricing starts at $119-139/mo (depending on if you pay monthly or annually) and Bench actually has a really cool pricing structure. It’s tiered depending on how much you spend in expenses each month, so a lot of us designers are going to be in the lowest tier (on account of how low our overhead is) and on the cheapest pricing plan!
RELATED: Streamline your web design business with systems that do all your heavy lifting for under $100/mo
From there, Bench automatically downloads and analyzes all of your bookkeeping and typically checks in with you for 1 of 2 reasons each month:
To get your opinion on how a transaction should be categorized.
And to let you know when your books are complete!
Bench will even backtrack your books for you, which is something I’ll have them to do for me since I joined in April of 2019 and want to take advantage of their seamless tax preparation for the whole year.
Pretty easy, right? Which ugh! After managing my finances and filing self-employment taxes for myself for 7 years, I was ready for some ease around my business finances!
And honestly, it feels so good for one whole thing to just be OFF MY PLATE.
Here’s my official review of Bench Accounting :)
What is Bench exactly?
Bench is a bookkeeping service that specializes in online businesses, freelancers and entrepreneurs.
Their monthly subscription includes importing statements, categorizing your expenses, delivering monthly reports, fast, responsive messaging with your bookkeeping team and access to a super beautiful and easy-to-use dashboard!
They also offer add-on services for payroll, tax filing and advanced bookkeeping for more complicated financial situations.
How does Bench bookkeeping work?
Set up your accounts.
First you’re introduced to a bookkeeper so they can show you how Bench works and walk you through setting everything up on the phone. They literally make it so you don't have to think about anything and they don't even care if you totally suck at money like I do! 😅
Side note: the Bench team is awesome. Literally everyone has been so friendly and funny! Someone on my bookkeeping team even researched my website and Instagram before a call one time and was so complimentary and sweet. They seemed really excited to be working with me and WOW what a lesson in customer service 😍
They do their bookkeeping thing.
Once everything’s set up, they gather all your transactions and make sense of it, and let you know if they need your help with anything (like categorizing a transaction).
Once that’s done, they let you know when your monthly financial reports are ready to view.
You get easy to understand financial reports and an awesome "year end package" that you can send straight to your accountant during tax time, or you can use Bench to file everything for you!
My favorite things about Bench:
Every single person I’ve talked to is hilarious, thoughtful and down-to-earth.
They didn’t make me feel dumb for not being great at money. They were so happy that I had found them because this shit is just way easier for them! They were even able to organize my mixed business + personal spending and never once made me feel bad about it!
Bench has given me so much brain space and time back. They’re able to keep a bird’s eye view on all transactions. They pull in statements from my bank, Paypal and Stripe then categorize all the transactions. They let me know when something needs my attention (which happens almost never) and then they let me know when the month’s books are all done! At the end of the year, they give you a financial year-end package that’s all organized for taxes.
The load off of my shoulders has felt amazing. Even if it’s just one tiny element of my business that I don’t have to think so much about it, it’s actually a huge thing and has set the stage for the rest of my business expansion.
Did I mention the dashboard is so beautiful with it’s charts and graphs 😍
I felt like I learned so much about customer care and delivering an exceptional customer experience just by going through their free trial process. Seriously, sign up for the learning experience if for nothing else!
And I especially love how easy they make everything with the one free month. No matter how complicated your books are, it's easy for Bench because they KNOW what they're doing. They're professionals!
Other things I think you should know about Bench:
Bench does *not* handle invoicing your clients or tracking down payments. They manage your books (aka what's coming in and out of your accounts). If you’re looking for project management help, you should check out my friend Liz (we’ve worked together before and I can’t recommend her enough!).
If you’re currently using Dubsado, Stripe and Quickbooks Online and are confused AF about your invoices, tracking payments between your softwares and understanding merchant fees…you’re gonna love Bench. They have a partnership with Stripe so they see what’s coming in and automatically configure/categorize your merchant fees for you.
Bench has it’s own proprietary bookkeeping system, which doesn’t sync up with other accounting or bookkeeping software (QuickBooks, Xero, Wave, etc). However if you decide to move systems later you can always export our data!
I’m not 100% sure how international they are. I know they’re based out of Vancouver and cover at least Canada and the US. I’ll check in with a team member and update the post with more info!
I haven’t used it myself, but I know Bench also has an app that looks pretty cool :)
My final thoughts on Bench…
At the end of the day, I definitely wish I would’ve outsourced my business bookkeeping and financial reporting to Bench much, much sooner. I could have spent the hours I wasted on analyzing bank statements and researching how tf to be a professional bookkeeper on ONE new client that could have generated more than enough money to pay for an entire year of Bench!
With Bench, I was able to release the shame I had around bad money management and replace it with feeling proud of myself for making such a responsible decision for my mental health and the health of my business finances.
Thanks for letting me have some of your time to tell you about Bench — they’ve been a lifesaver for my business!
*This post contains affiliate links that can get you 20% off of your first 6 months with Bench Accounting! I may earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) if you click through to grab your free trial and make a purchase. All affiliate links are noted with an asterisk!