Being a great business owner doesn’t make you a great financial manager—but you can’t run a business on passion alone. With over 50% of small businesses failing in their first five years—mostly due to financial mismanagement—learning your way around the finances is one of the best things you can do for your small business.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to set your business finances up for success, including the top 5 strategies for small business financial management. That way you can build a strong foundation for this year and beyond.

Establish your small business financial management plan early

As a small business owner, you have a lot on your plate, and with so much to do, it can be hard to focus on finances during the times of year when they aren’t at the front of your mind (like they are during tax season or when cash flow is challenging).

It’s important to have a financial management plan in place because it provides a road map your business can follow in order to achieve your goals. When you know your business’s financial responsibilities, can pinpoint your recurring costs, know where your money is coming from and where it’s going, and have important financial dates in your calendar, it helps you plan for the future and makes it easier to operate and grow your business without encountering too many avoidable roadblocks along the way.

By establishing a financial management plan for your business early on, it’ll help you quickly and decisively address any issues that might arise.

5 essential finance management tips for small business owners

Every industry and business has its own unique financial requirements, so there is no universal road map for small business financial success. But there are some strategies that are sure to set you up for success, regardless of what your business focuses on. Here are the top strategies to help you improve your small business’s finances.

1. Learn the tax requirements for your business

Since your tax requirements will change depending on the specific structure of your business and the industry in which you operate, it’s smart to spend some time early on determining exactly what you’ll need to present each quarter or year. You can find most of this information online, but working with an accountant to make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of the tax laws that pertain to your small business might be helpful.

2. Open dedicated business bank accounts

One mistake that a number of small business owners make is not setting up dedicated business bank accounts for spending and saving money. While the specific laws around combining personal and business funds depend on your business structure—LLCs and corporations legally require full separation, while sole proprietorships just strongly encourage it—it is best to treat this step as a requirement for businesses across the board. Combining expenses muddies the waters come tax season, and will be either a great difficulty or a potential legal issue.

Opening dedicated checking and savings accounts for your small business, as well as a credit card or line of credit, ensures you can easily accomplish any day-to-day or one-off business operations without commingling your personal and professional finances.

3. Save for taxes each month

It may be tempting to put off planning for your quarterly taxes until you actually need to pay them, but it’s best to set aside money each month to ensure you’re well prepared when the time does come.

As a general rule, you can determine the amount to put away by calculating your monthly earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT), then multiplying that number by 25 to 30%. The exact amount you’ll need will differ based on your specific state, local, and self-employment tax rates, so adjust accordingly.

If you’re unsure how much to set aside, it’s best to assume 30% to be safe. You can always scale down the amount you save later, but being well covered the first time you go to pay taxes will save you a good deal of stress during an already hectic period.

4. Invest in an accounting program

Another essential finance management tip for small business owners is to invest in an accounting program early on. While a basic spreadsheet or ledger works for some, it’s easy for a system like this to get confusing or unwieldy. And with the number of free or inexpensive programs like Quickbooks out there that are dedicated to business account management, you’re sure to find one that suits your needs and budget.

In order to determine which program is right for you, carefully reflect on the things you need it to do. Payroll processing, sending invoices, integrating with your business credit cards or bank accounts, and the level of income and expense tracking you require are all factors that could influence your decision. Get clear on what you need and find a program that meets those needs—it will dramatically simplify your financial management practices.

5. Carve out time for routine financial maintenance

Finance management for small business owners not only requires you to invest a certain amount of time to initially implement structures and strategies to keep your business running smoothly—it also requires regular maintenance to keep you on track. Set time aside monthly or quarterly to review your books and ensure things are accurate, modify your budget to pay taxes and expenses, and make sure you’re on track to meet your financial goals. Financial management is an ongoing project, not a one-and-done deal.

Start planning today

It’s impossible to eliminate every financial obstacle or plan for every potential hurdle, but by creating a solid small business financial management plan, you remove a good deal of the stress and uncertainty from a key element of running your business. Having a plan in place makes it easier to adjust and helps you re-tailor your approach going forward.

One important component of your small business financial management plan is having a banking partner that makes it easier to track and move your money. A small business bank account through NorthOne can help you take control of your financial management by providing the tools you need to track your income and spending, pay your taxes, create a budget, and much more. Reach out to learn more about how a convenient NorthOne account can work for your business.