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You Need A Money Management Tool for Your Business

Say goodbye to Quickbooks and learn how to use YNAB for Business.

You Need a Separate Business Budget (YNASBB—nope, that doesn't work. Let's let it die here.)

YNAB will serve your small business well. It has mine. It gave me what I call, "pile-of-money clarity." Many years ago, YNAB was profitable with a very small team, and I couldn't have been happier. Then I moved YNAB from Quickbooks to YNAB. That move was a game-changer for me. I suddenly had clarity surrounding the business checking account balance. I no longer had to wonder if we could hire, because I could see that our category for payroll was doing just fine. I saw I could be more aggressive with advertising, because I saw that we had advertising dollars where they were supposed to be.

We went from a company with seven part/full-time team members, to a company with 27 over a two-year period.

All because I used YNAB, where it settled my stomach, and helped me conquer the natural risk aversion I had to hiring people, and growing the business.

Yes, I believe YNAB (the software) will serve your small business very well, it did mine. It will help the risk-avoider take calculated, comfortable risks. It will help the risk-taker pull back a little bit, and be more calculated in his or her risks as well.

How to Use YNAB for Your Business Budget

In order to do this right though, you need to set up a separate business budget. Unless you have the teeniest of tiny little side operations (where a separate master category for the entire business suffices), you need to set up a separate business budget.

Go to File -> Create a New Budget... and get started.

Keep your business budget separate. It will make everything easier (taxes, reconciliation, personal vs. business expenses, etc.)

 Wait a Minute, YNAB Won't...

YNAB won't send your invoices for you (though you can actually track them pretty well in YNAB). YNAB won't track your time for you. YNAB won't track your mileage for you. YNAB won't handle your asset depreciation. It won't print checks. It won't integrate with your accountant's tax software. YNAB won't run your payroll for you. YNAB won't track your inventory for you (it could, and maybe I'll write about that later).

Well sheesh Jesse, what will YNAB do?

It will add value to your business by giving you the insights you need to clarify your priorities, cut wasteful spending, boost spending where profitable, and maybe even show you that you can take a steady salary. It will give you peace of mind, as it relates to your business' cash flow. Besides finding great people to hire these past several years, the best business decision I made was to move YNAB to YNAB during this time.

How We Handled Other Tasks

We ran YNAB on YNAB for many years. And if you're a business, you still have a few things aside from budgeting that you need to handle (we sure did!). Here's how we used to handle those one-off tasks that YNAB wouldn't do. (Hint: an end-all-be-all software package can, many times, be harder to use than approaching your software needs a la carte.)


When we did our books with YNAB, it made us create a really healthy buffer, kept our spending in check, and we saved up for the entire team to spend a week in Costa Rica back  (Rule Two applied over an 18-month period!).


We did't send many invoices, but when we did, we used Freshbooks.


YNAB experimented with tracking times on projects, and we used Harvest.

Mileage tracking.

I typically track mileage for the four months after taxes are due, and then give up. When I did track mileage, I used an app on my iPhone. Come tax time, had I faithfully recorded the year's mileage, I would send my tax accountant the mileage report.


YNAB has a few assets that require depreciation. Our tax accountant tracks that for us each year. (Any accountant worth their salt will do that.)


We had a book of (free) checks, and when we needed to write one, Chance (our COO) grabbed a pen from his desk and filled out the check. I signed it, then entered the check in YNAB. If we needed to send a lot of checks at once, we used the free business bill pay service of our bank.

Tax filing.

YNAB doesn't integrate with our tax accountant's tax software, so do you know what we made him do? We sent him a spreadsheet of all of our inflows/outflows of the year, and we make him do "accountant-y things" and build a pivot table to aggregate category spending and manually enter the numbers into his software. It took him a few minutes, and he checks for accuracy along the way, instead of checking the accuracy of an import after the fact. (I re-read this and admit that I sound quite snarky here. It's a pet peeve of mine, letting your accountant's two hours of work for your taxes dictate your entire year's financial workflow.)


We ran our payroll through Paychex. I would pull up the monthly payroll report and enter the outflows into YNAB. It would take me a few minutes. I used to like hand-entering all of our team's pay, because it would make me happy they're on the team.


We don't have any inventory to track, but if we did, I'd buy a separate piece of software to track inventory (if it was a lot), or I'd use YNAB to do it (if it was just a small bit of inventory tracking). Cash outlays for inventory would be entered in YNAB, obviously, because YNAB handles your cash.

These days, our team is much larger and our finances have become increasingly complex. While we no longer run YNAB on YNAB, it was still a huge factor in our explosive growth and getting to the point where we are now.

If you want clarity for your cash flow and you've been hesitant to take a salary or budget for growth, I highly recommend giving YNAB a try. Build your business budget for free with our 34-day trial. Get ready to experience total control.

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You Need A Money Management Tool for Your Business