Show me the Green -- Managing your Money

Money in the hand

Show me the Green: Managing your Money

We've been reviewing some of the infrastructure and tools you'll need as you grow and strengthen your green business. Here is a quick overview of the typical reports you'll use to show how much money your business is bringing in:

  • Balance Sheet
  • Profit and Loss Statement
  • Tax ID numbers
  • Organizing Documents

Balance Sheet
A balance sheet gives you a quick picture of what your business financial situation is. For example, do you know off hand how much money you've invested in your business? Do you know what the current situation for your incoming payments is?

You and other stakeholders' equity in the business is everything from the business cards you personally printed to spread the word about your business, to the new checks your partner ordered or brochures you printed up, to all investors' initial capital investment.

Assets are what the company owns that could be exchanged for cash: for example: cash, checking, savings, money market accounts, invoices that you've sent and are waiting for payment on (accounts receivable), loans that you've given out that you're waiting for payment on (notes receivable), physical property such as cars, computers, buildings, and any other item that you could liquidate.

Liabilities are what the company owes to creditors: for example, personal or bank loans, credit card debt, car loans, mortgage loans, and other payments that the company is responsible for.

A typical balance sheet displays the assets and liabilities of a company within a range of time, for example, on the first of the month.

Profit and Loss Statement
If the Balance sheet displays a snapshot in time, your Profit and Loss statement shows you the financial situation of the company over a specific time frame, such as a calendar or fiscal year, or a quarter, or a week. This is the total income that came into your business (the company got paid!) within a certain time frame ---- minus the total expenses that the business incurred (the company made payments) within that certain time frame.

Federal Employee Identification Number or Tax ID Number
You will eventually receive a tax identification number directly for the company (separate from your own Social Security number). This number comes in for identification purposes, so keep the record of it on hand.

Organizing Documents
Your organizing documents typically include: Certificate (from your State) of Organization, your Articles of Organization, your Bylaws, Operating Agreement, a Company Information Sheet, a list of Officers, and a Ledger of members/partners.

Tax Records
Keep tax-related records (annual state and federal returns) forever. Keep receipts and documentation of any self-employment income for at least 6 years, and keep those records in as secure a place as possible.

When you've collected these documents and made them accessible, you're ready to use the information whenever needed. Recordkeeping moving forward relates to time/payroll, expenses (itemized list of what was spent to pursue new business), income (what the business takes in - cash, barter, checks, credit card, notes, etc.), and equity (additional partner investment or debt).

I know it can be tedious, but your goal here is to show as strong a position as possible in terms of your emerging business. As you grow, you'll be able to find bookkeepers, accountants, tax preparers, and financial advisors to help you make the most of your hard-earned money.