Unless you were an accountant before deciding to become a food truck owner, the word “accounting” probably makes you a bit uneasy. For new food truck owners, this feeling is usually much worse. After all, bad bookkeeping when a business opens not only puts you in a hole in the short term, it can come back to bite you in the backside over time. Don’t forget; even start-up food truck businesses can get audited.
Now that we’ve made you feel even more uncomfortable, there are ways you can avoid having your tax submissions getting flagged by the IRS. Here are a four beginner accounting tips to help start your mobile food business.
4 Accounting Tips For New Food Truck Owners
Make It Part Of Your Schedule
In the same way that you go through your email every morning, or in the same way that you tirelessly prep for each day in your truck, make your accounting work a habit. Set a recurring alarm on in calendar: “Review The Financials!” The frequency you do this is up to you, but you need to set aside time for accounting at least once a month, if not more.
Learn The Jargon
The terminology of accounting can seem like it’s another language and in some cases it is. Accrual? Imprest System? Key Ratios? Accounting jargon isn’t usually in the average person’s day to day vocabulary. So take some time to understand the basics. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Center is a great place to start.
Find The Right Software
Find the accounting software that you feel comfortable using. Don’t simply grab the first one you find. Research the various options you have and relate them to the way in which you will be using it? Do you have POS system that will provide financial reports? Find software that is compatible with these reports.
Look For Advice Locally
Chances are, if you spend enough time trying to figure out an accounting issue, you could. But the reality is, you’ve got a food truck business to operate. Since you need to file taxes quarterly (not just annually) you need to place a bit of urgency to get these issues solved. Speak with other local food truck or restaurant owners in your area. The years of accounting they have seen will probably lead to an answer faster than any other place you look.
Food truck owners familiar with the SCORE program offered in communities across the country have used this group as a local resource to get accounting questions answered.
Another route is to set up food truck owner working groups where you can invite a local accountant to speak on common problems the group members run into. Look for an accountant or bookkeeper who specializes in food service businesses. If nothing more, they’ll be a voice of comfort if you receive some alarmingly confusing IRS mail.
Once you have taken these steps you’ll realize that accounting doesn’t need to be scary. Start off on the right foot and you might actually find that it’s fun. Ultimately, you need to understand the financials in your business to be able to make corrections if your profit just isn’t where it needs to be.