10 Things I Learned as a Single Mom that Help Me Be a Better Business Owner / Bookkeeper

I was a single mother for 11 years.  During that time, I learned a LOT about people and life in general.  Many of the lessons and skills developed while navigating the tumultuous waters of single parenting have made me a stronger person, and a better bookkeeper/business owner. 

Here are some takeaways:

  1. Count every penny
    When I was first on my own, I had to support myself and my son on less than $7/hour, and then on $10-$12/hour for many years.  It was not easy but I was able to have my own place, own a car and put myself through school all without child support and government subsidies. I learned to count every penny and track where I spent it.  If I over-indulged on any one thing, I was able to identify it and change my spending habits. 
  2. Work hard....work smart  
    When I was first on my own, I had to work 3 jobs to make ends meet.  I became very creative and flexible with scheduling, sometimes working split shifts at one job, and fitting work at the other jobs in-between.  I was working hard, but I was always thinking of ways to work smarter.  Through each phase of my work life, the balance gradually tipped towards the ‘working smart’ side of the scale.
  3. If they’ll do it with you, they’ll do it to you
    Dating as a single mother is not fun.  When you date someone who is in a relationship they ‘say’ they’re getting out of, you can pretty much guarantee that YOU will eventually be the relationship they’re getting away from when they start seeing someone else.  On the business side, I have worked with people who treated their vendors and employees with disrespect, refusing to pay for good work or having unrealistic expectations.  I eventually received the same treatment, so my advice to you....look for the warning signs of ‘bully’ business owners with questionable character and run for the hills
  4. Don’t judge a book by its cover
    Cliché, yes, but it is SO true.  In my dating life, some truly despicable men looked the best, had the best jobs and drove the nicest cars.  In business, a big, fancy storefront or the appearance of wealth are not necessarily telling the true story.  When someone’s ‘cover’ is more important than their substance, you’re in for a rough ride whether it’s in personal relationships or business.
  5. Be flexible
    At times, negotiating visitation schedules with my ex was like trying to free an international hostage. Flexibility and patience was the only viable (and affordable) option.   A tough lesson to learn, but a valuable one that has served me well in all areas of life.
  6. Pay your bills  
    When I was a single mother, paying bills was incredibly satisfying.  It was proof that I had the ability to care for my son.  It validated me as a mother and a viable, contributing member of society.  I have also observed that business owners who understand the importance of paying bills and make it a priority are more successful. 
  7. Pick your battles
    Sometimes we just don’t get our own way.  I have had to stand my ground as a Mom..."NO you can't play Nintendo if your homework isn't done" and I learned when to back off..."OK, you don't have to eat the squash".  In business there have been times when I was confident I had a viable solution to a problem a client was trying to solve, but their impatience with new technology or reluctance to try something new forced me to back off and adjust my processes to fit in with what they were comfortable with.   
  8. Good people get what they deserve and vice versa
    We may not always see it, but I am a firm believer that people eventually reap what they sow.
  9. Own up to mistakes and give credit where credit is due
    My most important role as a mother was to raise a son who understood that his character would be his most valuable asset.  If he did something wrong, I let him know in no uncertain terms, and I held him accountable.  If he did something right, I didn't hesitate to dole out genuine praise.  I've worked with many people who breeze over their blunders or go so far as to shift the blame to someone else.  Not cool!!  Yes, I make mistakes on occasion and I take ownership of those mistakes......but I also do a lot right  When I do something good, I expect to get credit for it, but I am realistic enough to know that not all of my efforts will be recognized and appreciated.   
  10. Treat others with respect
    This is one of my core values that I carry into every business and personal relationship. Even at the lowest moments of going through a not-so-pleasant divorce, single motherhood, dating and working for peanuts, I held fast to the 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you' philosophy, and it has served me well! (THANKS MOM!!!).  


8 Things Every Business Owner Should Know How to Do in QuickBooks

If you are a business owner and wonder if your bookkeeping is being done correctly, there are some quick ways to review the file so you can feel more confident about the work being done.

If you don’t know how to get into your QuickBooks file, look for an icon like this ____  or click on the start menu – Programs – QuickBooks – double click on "QuickBooks".  Typical username is Admin and sometimes it’s ok to leave the password field blank.

If you’re new to QuickBooks….don’t freak out.  It looks scary at first, but don’t be afraid.

Here are the top things you should be looking for:

***NOTE:  If you work with a bookkeeper, check with them first to be sure they have completed their work.  Sometimes these tasks are on their to-do list, so don’t judge too hastily!

  1. Profit & Loss Report (aka P&L or Income Statement)
  2. Balance Sheet Report 
  3. Unpaid Bills Report
  4. Open Invoices Report
  5. Review Checking Account Registers for un-cleared transactions
  6. Review Undeposited Funds
  7. Review “Misc”, “Need Info” or “Ask My Accountant” 
  8. Employee Center - Unpaid Payroll Liabilities


  • Open bank statements and look at the check images. If you don’t receive check images as part of your bank statements, call your bank and request it.  This is not something to take lightly.  Sadly, there are dishonest people out there, so CYA!
  • Be sure your bookkeeper receives any paperwork from government or state agencies.
    • Penalties can add up quickly. If you receive any paperwork from the IRS or any state tax agency, get it to your bookkeeper or accountant ASAP.

Bottom line.....

  • Be aware of what is happening in your QuickBooks file.  You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for your business.  
  • Communicate with your bookkeeper and ask questions.  If they are like me, they will truly appreciate your involvement!  Plus, it keeps us on our toes!  :)

#1 of 8 - Run a Profit & Loss Report (aka P&L or Income Statement) in QuickBooks

#1 on the list of "8 Things Every Business Owner Should Know How to Do In QuickBooks"

Run and Review a Profit & Loss Report (aka P&L or Income Statement)

  • HOW? Reports – Company & Financial – Profit & Loss Standard
    • To increase the fun, modify the report to include a prior year comparison. This will highlight any major discrepancies from prior years.  If you know your business, these will be obvious. When report is open:  
      • Customize Report – Prior Year Comparison (check off $ and %.  It’s enlightening!!)
  • WHY?  You know your business.  Line items that don’t look right, probably aren't.
    • Line items that don’t look right (Wages seem too low?  Meals and Entertainment too high? Income seems off?) You know you went on a business trip but don’t see anything in the ‘Travel” line? You can double click on any line to open up the detail to see what’s behind the numbers.

#2 of 8 - Run a Balance Sheet Report in QuickBooks

#2 on the list of "8 Things Every Business Owner Should Know How to Do In QuickBooks"

Run and Decipher a Balance Sheet Report in QuickBooks

  • HOW?  Reports – Company & Financial – Balance Sheet Standard
    • Date = last day of prior month (assuming current month isn’t completed yet)
  • WHY?  The balance sheet gives you a snapshot of the health of your business.  It will also identify potential issues that would affect the P&L
    • Negative balances in the asset and liability sections.  
      • Accounts that should have a negative balance include:
        • Accumulated Depreciation and/or Amortization
        • Owner’s Draw (in the Equity section)  
    • Review credit cards closely
      • Credit card accounts should NOT have a negative balance unless you truly have a credit balance (which means you overpaid on the credit card). If there is a negative balance in a credit card account, expenses have not been entered against the credit card liability account.  Find your credit card statements and make sure all transactions are entered and then make sure the account is reconciled.

#3 of 8 - Run an Unpaid Bills Report in QuickBooks

#3 on the list of "8 Things Every Business Owner Should Know How to Do In QuickBooks"

Run an Unpaid Bills Report in QuickBooks

  • HOW?  Reports – Vendors & Payables – Unpaid Bills
    • You should see only a) bills that have not been paid, or b) unapplied credit memos (a negative amount).  
    • If there are negative balances, look at the “Type” column.  If you see:
      • Credit Memo = a credit memo was created to reduce the amount you owe a vendor.  
      • Payment = A payment was entered using the QB Bill Pay function, but there was no bill to apply it to.  To clean this up
        • Enter the bill, then open the Payment and check of the bill 
      • Check = A Check was posted directly to Accounts Payable and the QB Bill Pay function wasn’t used).  To clean up, either:
        • Enter a bill, then apply the credit
          • Vendors - Pay Bills - Set Credits
        • Change the account FROM Accounts Payable TO the proper expense account (assuming the check is not from a closed period)
          • If Check is from a closed period, use the first option

#4 of 8 - Run an Open Invoices Report in QuickBooks

#4 on the list of "8 Things Every Business Owner Should Know How to Do In QuickBooks"

How to Run an Open Invoices Report in QuickBooks

  • HOW?  Reports – Customers & Receivables – Open Invoices
    • Only invoices for which you haven’t received payment should be listed.
    • If there is a negative balance, look at the “Type” column.  If you see:
      • Credit Memo = A Credit Memo was entered reducing the amount a customer owes you
      • Payment = A Customer Payment was received, but has not been applied to an invoice.  To apply the payment:  
        • Customers – Receive Payments – Discounts & Credits
      • Deposit = A Deposit was entered directly to Accounts Receivable.  To apply the payment:
        • If Deposit is reconciled:  Customers – Receive Payments – Discounts & Credits
        • If Deposit is NOT reconciled:  Delete the deposit, then re-enter the correct way: Customers – Receive Payments – Check off invoice