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Business of VO – Accounting

Invoices, Expenses and Taxes, oh my!

How do you keep track of it all? Anne and Gabby share some pros and cons of different accounting softwares, give you a history of what they’ve used in the past and what features they just can’t live without in the VO biz! You may not be using your current system to its full potential!


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. You need accounting software to know where your money is going.

  2. Organized accounting will make taxes simpler.

  3. Have a separate business account for simpler accounting.

  4. Use online bill pay, accounting software, and paypal so you can go paperless.

  5. Invoice immediately after a job is complete!

Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

Keep track of your outstanding invoices with Freshbooks
Another good program to use is Quickbooks
Xero is also a popular program!


VO: Today’s voices need to be more than just a pretty voice, today’s voiceover talent has to be a boss. A VO boss. Set your self up with business owner strategies and success, with your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with some of the strongest voices in our industry. Rock your business, like a boss, a VO boss.

Anne:  Hi everyone, welcome to the VO B.O.S.S. podcast. My name’s Anne Ganguzza, and I’m here with my lovely co-host, Gabby Nistico.

Gabby:  Hi, hi.

Anne:  And today’s podcast, we’re gonna talk about I think everyone’s favorite topic, Gabby. And that would be accounting.

Gabby:  Dun dun duh.

Anne:  And accounting software. Which I know for a fact, for me, personally, it’s so not my favorite thing to actually have to do, but it is an essential part of the business. And so I think we should start off talking about well, number one, why do we need accounting software? Gabby?

Gabby:  Well, you know, I this topic, it’s so funny, I feel like I know we’re a podcast, but I feel like going “Show of hands, who loves accounting? “Show of hands, anybody?” Oh there’s that one guy in the back, got it.

Anne:  Yeah, I don’t see anybody. For sure.

Gabby:  Okay, why do we need it? All right. So probably the number one downfall for businesses is that because their accounting is improperly handled, they don’t know how much they’re spending, where they’re spending it, and ultimately where their money is going.

Anne:  That’s a super, super important point. Because I know when I began, and I wasn’t as concerned, all I cared about when I first started doing voiceover was, okay, where’s the next really cool class, what’s the next cool class that I can take, and what job did I just get, or can I book this job? And I wasn’t concerned, necessarily, about actually inputting numbers into tables or checking accounts or balances. That sort of stuff was the furthest thing from my mind. All I cared about was getting the job and making the money, but other than that, I wasn’t really concerned. And so I love that you just brought that point up. It is so, so important that you know where your money’s going, and you know how much you’re spending. And even moreso, I think as you progress in your business. As I’ve been in this close to 10 years full time now, I’m like, so where is all my money going? And who is, where am I getting the most money? And it really helps me, once I have an idea, of the numbers that are happening in my business, it gives me a great idea on how I can improve, how I can move forward, how I can progress and become even more successful.

Gabby:  Absolutely.

Anne:  So let’s talk about… I’ll talk about progression. After I first started in the business, I’ve done a few different types of accounting softwares. Let’s talk about actual software that we’ve used and maybe we liked or didn’t like. I’ve used a couple of different softwares in my business. I started off with, gosh, back in the 1990s, I was paying my bills using Intuit. It was called Check Free. And so that became like Quicken. But I was paying electronically in the 1990s and I remember people were really like, aren’t you afraid that, you know, you’re giving up all your account information on the bad internet? And that somehow that information is all gonna get stolen. Well I’m here to tell you that I’ve been doing accounting and banking electronically since the early 1990s and I’m still here. I’ve never actually, knock on wood, if I have wood, never had any issues. Never had any credit cards stolen, never, nothing bad has ever happened.

Gabby:  Wow.

Anne:  So I’m here to attest to that. And so I started off with that paying bills online through Check Free, and doing my checking balances through Quicken. And I loved that for many years. And it wasn’t difficult until I started becoming a business and then I had to try to keep my finances separate and you know, there was electronic formats of people being able to pay me online. Then it became more complicated. It used to be easier. Do you remember balancing your checkbook by hand?

Gabby:  Yes, sadly.

Anne:  I do. Yeah, I know. All this electronic digital format has really made things easier but yet, also, all the things that you need to consider in terms of accounting.

Gabby:  Yeah, I mean, so funny ’cause you are so incredibly progressive, and to hear you say you were Check Free all the way in the 90s, that is unbelievable to me. So my first accounting software was called shoebox,

Anne:  What a cute name.

Gabby:  Because it wasn’t really software, it lived on my desk. And it was a shoebox.

Anne:  I love that.

Gabby:  I threw all my receipts into.

Anne:  Shoebox.

Gabby:  It was a totally manual process, and it sucked so bad. And yeah, writing checks and all of that, so I used to do things… So from there I went to Excel spreadsheets, and I was doing everything in spreadsheet, which definitely was a step up and a step in the right direction. About five years ago, I switched over to FreshBooks, which I love, love, love, love, love dearly.

Anne:  Mmm hmm.

Gabby:  And there’s other products that are now similar in nature to it that are on the marketplace. But ultimately, they all do the same thing. They allow you to keep your invoicing, your accounts payable, your accounts receivable, and all your expenses all in one easy-to-use place, which is fantastic.

Anne:  So you used shoebox until FreshBooks, is that correct?

Gabby:  No, I went from shoebox to Excel spreadsheets then Excel to FreshBooks.

Anne:  Now I used FreshBooks myself, too. That was one of the softwares that I tested out. Which I loved. They were great for invoicing, I’ll tell you that. Phenomenal for invoicing.

Gabby:  Yes, and that’s one of the reasons why I love them, ’cause it makes that process really quick and easy. I know plenty of voice actors who wait like designated times to send invoices,

Anne:  Oh, no.

Gabby:  whether it be like twice a month or like all these ridiculous things. The amount of jobs that get forgotten are unbelievable.

Anne:  Yeah, so true. I’m so glad you said that because I invoice…

Gabby:  I invoice immediately.

Anne:  right after the job is done.

Gabby:  Yeah, immediately.

Anne:  Exactly, sometimes before I do the job I’m invoicing, because I’m requesting that I get paid in full before I deliver files.

Gabby:  Yeah, it’s the only way to fly.

Anne:  So a lot of times I’m doing that prior. Exactly.

Gabby:  Plus, all the details are fresh, and you can create a more robust invoice that has all of the job details right then and there.

Anne:  Absolutely. I am gonna talk a little bit about my progression from Check Free into what used to be Quicken, right, and that’s what I did for my books, and then Quicken turned into QuickBooks, right, that was their business software, and QuickBooks was something that ran on the desktop, and I had that. Because when I first started, I was running all of my business on a pc. So I was running QuickBooks on my pc. And I got, it wasn’t intuitive, but it was something I kind of had to learn as I went along. And so that’s where I think I really started to develop my hatefor accounting in general, because it wasn’t easy, it didn’t come naturally to me, but I did know that it was important for me to start putting every transaction into the database. And I didn’t have a problem with QuickBooks for many years, until I did.

Gabby:  Mmm.

Anne:  And QuickBooks was my solution for many years, and when I did have a problem, I think they had changed ownership, or tech support had changed considerably. Because I was like a complete Intuit adoring fan, until I had to call tech support. And once I had to call tech support, it just became really frustrating for me. And I had an instance where I had a technical problem and my database was corrupted and then I wasn’t able to retrieve my database. We’re talking about a year’s worth of… I had kept sequentially every year’s worth of data in a new file, and so I had lost a considerable amount of data through a technical issue that I had, and I was not happy with the tech support. And so I tried to get away from QuickBooks. And I went to FreshBooks. And I loved FreshBooks invoicing. But I’m progressing forward now a good many years, to where now a lot of people pay me electronically, through PayPal, through Stripe, so there’s multiple ways that people are paying me. They’re paying me through direct deposit, and so I wanted a software that could handle all of that, and handle the fees and so FreshBooks for me, while they did great invoicing, they didn’t handle the PayPal fees nicely. I shouldn’t say they didn’t handle them nicely, but I had to input those in manually, and I get paid a lot via PayPal.

Gabby:  Yeah, I had to calculate them separately as well.

Anne:  Yeah, and so I really wanted a software that could handle as I import the database into it, I wanted it to split off the fees. And believe it or not QuickBooks came back. They came back and their QuickBooks Online finally incorporated that into it nicely, and so I am now at QuickBooks Online.

Gabby:  Oh.

Anne:  I love it because my accountant and I can go into the database at the same time. I can see what she’s doing and she can talk to me and tell me, all right, here’s how you’re gonna generate this invoice. And the nice thing about it, is they take payment. So if I send an invoice, there’s just a link, all they have to do is click and they can pay me via credit card, they can pay me via electronic deposit, and I can also accept payments via PayPal, the same way.

Gabby:  Yes, I can accept payments and all of those platforms through FreshBooks. I just have to calculate my fees at the end of the year through the individual platforms.

Anne:  I love, and FreshBooks is actually a reasonably priced software as well, and it’s done online. It creates beautiful invoices. I will say that it creates more beautiful invoices than QuickBooks does. But, you know, again, it’s one of those things where once I have the… You have to, in your accounting software, you’re defining your accounts, right?

Gabby:  Right.

Anne:  So you have your bank account and then you have, when people pay you via PayPal, that’s also considered a bank account.

Gabby:  Mmm hmm.

Anne:  People pay you via Stripe, that’s considered a bank account. So for me, a good software is able to take those transactions in automatically. And that’s, I just found that QuickBooks Online does that for me, and I know FreshBooks does, too, ’cause you actually can establish PayPal as a bank.

Gabby:  Yep.

Anne:  You can establish, I don’t know about Stripe. What’s your?

Gabby:  No. No, I don’t use Stripe.

Anne:  Okay, so I use whatever… It’s funny because I used PayPal exclusively for many, many years to have people pay me, and some people, most people are comfortable with it, some people were not. I had some vendors, I had some clients that were large corporate clients that could not pay me through PayPal, so they had to pay me with a credit card.

Gabby:  Yep.

Anne:  And then I looked into merchant account from my bank, which I actually had for a while. I had a merchant account. And I think one thing that we’ll probably agree on is you’ve gotta look at the fees that are involved. There’s the convenience of paying, and then there’s fees.

Gabby:  I have yet to see a merchant account that’s worthwhile for voiceover. Bank merchant accounts are really meant for high volume transactions and retail.

Anne:  I agree with you there, completely.

Gabby:  Yeah, and so if that’s something you’re currently using, think about that long and hard. Look at those fees. Look at what you’re actually investing in. There are cheaper alternatives.

Anne:  I’m so glad that you brought that up. So if I can just say that I did have a merchant account from my bank. What was funny is that I had it for a year. They were charging me monthly for it, and what happened is, it never integrated totally into my website. And people like to pay easily, like click here to pay.

Gabby:  Yep.

Anne:  And so people would want to pay through my website and I never had their merchant account software integrate with my website back end. And so for a year I was paying a fee to my bank for this merchant account. And do you know what the fee was?

Gabby:  Hmm?

Anne:  The fee was $6.66. Do you think they could have come up with a different fee? And so honestly I paid that because when I called them to say look I can’t get it to work with my back end website, they said well you’re under a five-year contract

Gabby:  and it’s gonna cost you so many dollars to get out of it.

Anne:  Yikes.

Gabby:  I, at first I tried to fight it, and then I just said fine, I’m gonna pay that evil $6.66 a month, which I did for another year, until I finally said, “why?” I have to talk to a manager, I’m a good client, I have five accounts at that bank. So I finally shot up the ladder and talked to the people that had to be. Not only was there the $6.66 charge, but like you said, the fees, which I thought were all… They said we’re less

Anne:  Uh uh.

Gabby:  than PayPal, we’re 1.99%, and that’s they told me.

Anne:  Mmm hmm.

Gabby:  And I just blindly agreed, but when you read the fine print, it was 1.99% plus a transaction fee, plus if they used a specific credit card like an American Express it was a higher percentage.

Anne:  Yes, AMEX is always a problem, yep.

Gabby:  Always a problem. So in the end, it was not cheaper than PayPal, it was not cheaper than Stripe, and it didn’t integrate with my back end, and so I literally had to fight and go up the ladder to get that contract broken, and I said I have five accounts with you, I have so much money in this bank, I have a mortgage with you, how–you better–you will, you will negate this contract. And they did, which was good. But thank you for bringing that up, I think that’s so important.

Anne:  Let’s talk about banks as a whole and some of the services that banks do offer that are beneficial. So I love, love, love online bill paying.

Gabby:  Me, too.

Anne:  And that for me has been where I’ve gone check free. Now I know Anne was way ahead of the curve in the 90s, but for the rest of us schmucks, it’s been a fairly recent thing. Personally I hate checks and I hate that you have to pay for them. My God, they’re so much money. So I now use, so all of my accounts are centralized in one bank. I can use online bill pay to access all of the accounts, to transfer money from account to account, to pay bills from any account that I choose, automatically. It’s fantastic. And again, from an accounting standpoint, it gives you control, it gives you centralization, and in many cases, if banks know that you’re gonna have a lot of activity and different things like this, there’s all kinds of little perks and incentives

Gabby:  Yes.

Anne:  that they’ll offer you.

Gabby:  Like one of the things I was running into, this sounds like a really, horribly first-world thing to complain about, but I had to go to the bank and say look, I’m maxing out my mobile deposit capabilities every couple of weeks.

Anne:  Right, good problem to have.

Gabby:  Yeah, exactly, good problem to have. And they went oh, yeah, okay. So they lifted the restrictions and tripled my availability. Now, normally they wouldn’t do that for a small business, but they were able to look at the activity and transactions, they were like, oh yeah, we can do this. So yeah, there’s all kinds of great incentives and things.

Anne:  Absolutely, that was similar to mine, as well. Well first of all, I’m going to say that most banks are going to be very friendly at helping small businesses. And, depending on the amount of money that you’re putting into that bank, they are even more helpful. So as I progressed and grew as a small business, they would offer me, they would waive the fee for this, as long as I kept the account with them. As long as I had, I had my personal accounts with them as well, and I had a mortgage with them, which I didn’t start with them, but the mortgage got transferred to them. So we were a good customer. So because of that, they were able to waive a fee, I got a credit card from them, I got a debit card from them as well, and they were… Typically I had to spend so much or, you know, on that debit card and they were able to waive those fees. So yeah, they were very, very helpful for businesses. And as I grew as a business, they of course become even more.

Gabby:  Mmm hmm.

Anne:  And now I get cash back if I use the credit card if I purchase gas or food or whatnot with that. And so I can do that with my business, which is really great.

Gabby:  So take full advantage of those kinds of perks, because they’re definitely out there and they make your life a lot easier.

Anne:  I think, take the time to go to your bank in person. Even though we have mobile deposits and everything, it still behooves you, I think, to go in person to your bank, sit down with somebody who can help you out with a small business, whatever. Small business account, whatever it is, a credit card, a debit card, and again, I recommend that you listen to our podcast on the infrastructure of your business so that you can find out what your options are in terms of your business as an LLC or a dBA, whatever that is. Get yourself a separate business account. Go to the bank, take advantage of all of the good stuff that they have to offer.

Gabby:  Yep. Absolutely.

Anne:  So in terms of accounting, then, and accounting software, I think we’ve discussed a couple of different… I think the two big names right now on the market are QuickBooks, FreshBooks, and I think there’s, is there another one? Those are the two I hear a lot.

Gabby:  There is, yeah, there are some other options. Wave is very popular right now. Wave is fee-free, at least for the time being, ’cause it’s relatively new. A lot of my millennials are very fond of it.

Anne:  Ah, yes.

Gabby:  And there’s one called Xero, spelled with an X. So it’s X-E-R-O. And that is one that I know a few folks are using as well. And accountants seem to really like Xero.

Anne:  Oh, nice. That’s nice. I’m gonna look into that one. I’m pretty happy with… You know, and another thing about the accounting software is, it’s probably going to be, as with anything these days, a monthly fee to use them.

Gabby:  Yeah.

Anne:  I know FreshBooks was really reasonable, you could pay a monthly fee or you could pay a yearly fee, which was really reasonable, I think it was $300 or $400, I can’t remember.

Gabby:  I pay $29.95 a month…

Anne:  That’s what I pay for QuickBooks.

Gabby:  and I joke that it is the best $30 I spend every month, without a doubt.

Anne:  So yeah, you guys are gonna have to bite the bullet and if you’re gonna use an accounting software that’s going to be convenient and online and be able to handle all of your different bank accounts or accounts where you get paid, you will probably have to pay a monthly fee.

Gabby:  But here’s the thing, too, if you’re still DIYing, there’s probably a whole bunch of stuff that you’re missing that you don’t even know how crucial it is, once you have the tools. So in all of these accounting softwares, you can do aging reports. You can do profit versus loss reports. You can look at things quarterly, annually, month-by-month breakdowns. I think one of the most critical features for any piece of accounting invoicing software is automatic notices for overdue accounts.

Anne:  Mmm hmm.

Gabby:  And the alerts that let you know when an account has gone into any kind of past due.

Anne:  Yes, absolutely.

Gabby:  And those, once you have those tools, you will never be able to live without them.

Anne:  Oh, absolutely.

Gabby:  You’ll go, how did I do this before? Or what the hell was I doing?

Anne:  I mean, and just keeping track of who’s paid their invoice and who’s past due is just… And the ability to just be able to resend that invoice is great, and helping you keep track and keep tabs of things. Because I know for me, we are wearing so many different hats that it’s so easy to let something like your invoicing get beyond you or past you, and you’re not thinking about it because you’re so excited about the jobs that you’re doing.

Gabby:  Mmm hmm.

Anne:  But gosh, if I didn’t almost forget to charge a couple of times.

Gabby:  Well, there’s another great thing too with some of these, and it’s just about things like that, like the last minute. The cloud-based accounting programs like FreshBooks, I can invoice anywhere! Anywhere. I can be in my car and I can pull up my invoicing through an app on my phone, I’ve got access to all of my accounting. So there’s all kinds of immediacy to these tools.

Anne:  And it’s so lovely when you’re driving around and you’ve got your phone, and you get a notification that you’ve just gotten paid.

Gabby:  Right, you’ve got money.

Anne:  Isn’t that the best kind of notification? You just got paid, I love it, I love it. And I think that another thing that’s important for you to think about in terms of a good accounting software is the ability for it to handle multiple accounts, multiple payment methods, because these days there’s so many different payment methods popping up. And you want to make it convenient for your client to be able to pay you, whether it’s a corporate client or an individual client that’s, well, they’re all corporate, but in a way. But some have different restrictions. Some have to issue a purchase order, and then you invoice them, whatever that is. Some is like a Net 30, some is a net 45, but I think that if you have a good accounting software, they’re going to be able to handle all of those different accounts and make it easier for you to keep track of what’s coming in, what’s going out.

Gabby:  Absolutely.

Anne:  That, I think, is the most important.

Gabby:  So, take aways from this podcast, once again, do your homework. Do some research. Look into these companies that we’ve talked about. Here’s a really great tip with these. Don’t just go it alone or blind. All of these companies have help desks. All of them have varying degrees of customer service. Some of them will even do walk through tutorials. FreshBooks will actually set an appointment time with you where a FreshBooks specialist will get online with you and will walk you through how to use the system, and all kinds of cool things and they’ll give you a free trial. And a lot of the other softwares do that too. So take advantage of that. Try them before you buy them. Figure out which is gonna work best.

Anne:  Absolutely. And also, don’t discount advantages of your bank, your local bank.

Gabby:  Yeah.

Anne:  Where you do your business. Make sure you have a sit down, have a sit down with them, tell them you’re a small business and find out what you can actually get by being partners with them and working with them. There’s a lot of benefits.

Gabby:  And lastly, don’t be resistant to change. I know it’s hard. I know, I know, I know it is. I’m looking at you. I’m talking to you. I know. Don’t be resistant. Accounting is one of those areas where people get really protective of an archaic outdated method and they won’t let go.

Anne:  Mmm hmm.

Gabby:  It’s okay. It’s okay, change is good.

Anne:  Change is good. Change is good, and every day the accounting softwares that are out there are coming up with easier… They’re all in competition with each other, number one, so they’re trying to make everything easy for you.

Gabby:  Yeah, let them!

Anne:  And I will say even though it’s a well-known fact, I keep telling you that I do have an accountant that does my books. I am in my accounting software on an every other day, daily basis, doing invoices, checking my reports. And I loved the fact that you mentioned, generate reports, your profit and loss statements, so that you can find out where your money is, where your money is going. That’s gonna be so important for you because I did a class on money blocks with my VIPeeps, all about what are we afraid of in terms of money? Like there’s a lot of people who are actually afraid or avoid looking at money. And that’s considered a money block. So if you want to let the money flow, get yourself in that accounting program and generate those reports. Find out where you’re spending money. Take a hard look at the numbers. Find out where the money’s coming in, and that is the only what that I believe you’re gonna be able to strategize and really move forward and create success within your business.

Gabby:  It’s so true. And if you do end up working with an accountant, listen to them. Take their advice. They’re here to help and I have so many friends who came to find out after working with a pro, or even with some of these softwares that it was their $3.95 a day latte that was a major hold back in terms of some life goal or some thing that they wanted to achieve, and they realized yeah, wow, all I have to do is cut out a cup of coffee and I’m in way better shape.

Anne:  Yeah, absolutely.

Gabby:  So that’s how you find these things out.

Anne:  Well guys, yet another awesome podcast. Gabby, I love doing this podcast with you. I learn so much from you. And I love having this open discussion about different aspects of the business. I find it truly enlightening.

Gabby:  I do, too.

Anne:  And I hope our listeners out there are saying the same thing. So thanks, everybody, for listening, and we’ll be back next week with another wonderful podcast, talking about market price.

Gabby:  Yep, and remember guys, you, too can record like a boss. If you like what you hear, you can find out more at, they are responsible for this quality connection and fabulousity that you hear with us.

Anne:  Love ipDTL. From all of us, yes, from all of us at the VO B.O.S.S. podcast, have yourself a kick butt week.

Gabby:  Stay focused and rock your business like a boss.

Anne:  Like a boss. All right, don’t forget to like us on Facebook at VO Boss podcast, and Twitter @VO_Boss

Gabby:  Or subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher. Catch you next time.

Anne:  Thanks so much, guys, we’ll catch you next week.

VO:  Join us next week for another edition of VO B.O.S.S. with your hosts, Anne Ganguzza and Gabby Nistico. All rights reserved. Anne Ganguzza Voice Talent in association with Three Moon Media. Redistribution with permission. Coast to coast connectivity via ipDTL.