|Top Tips for Efficient Bookkeeping|
If you own a business, either big or small, you have many tasks. You must handle everyday business activities, serve customers, plan marketing, connect with others, and make sure everything goes well.
It can be challenging to allocate time for organizing financial spreadsheets, analyzing numbers, and overseeing cash flow. The fact remains that effectively managing your financial records, maintaining control over your finances, and ensuring your business adheres to regulations are essential for long-term success.
Top Bookkeeping Tips for Small Businesses
Before you find yourself working late nights reviewing spreadsheets again, here are 12 important bookkeeping tips that every business should know and practice.
If this feels overwhelming, remember you can reach out to the best bookkeeping company near you, for assistance in managing your business finances effectively.
1. Separate Business and Personal Accounts
Combining your personal and business money might not seem like a big issue initially. Nevertheless, it's essential for every business to have a separate business bank account that's completely separate from any personal accounts.
In some situations, having a separate business bank account is mandatory, depending on how your business is set up. Having this distinct account will simplify the process for you and your bookkeeper when tracking the transactions related to your business.
2. Automate Bookkeeping with Cloud Accounting Software
We are fortunate to be in an era where cloud-based accounting software gives business owners access to their business information whenever required.
Thanks to software integration, you can avoid sifting through stacks of paperwork each month, reviewing spreadsheets, and doing manual calculations. In the present day, cloud-based software handles the majority of tasks, alleviating the need for extensive manual effort.
Accounting software possesses the ability to autonomously dispatch invoices to customers, guaranteeing timely delivery on their specified due dates. Simultaneously, it proficiently tracks both incoming and outgoing expenses and generates detailed cash flow reports. Multiple accounting software solutions are accessible to fulfill this purpose.
The ideal choice for your business should simplify your life. If you're uncertain about the right option, please contact a bookkeeping expert for guidance.
3. Create a Simple and Organized Record-keeping System
Ensure that each transaction is documented in a way that allows for easy cash flow management. Recording all your business transactions, like invoices, receipts, and expenses, helps you foresee future opportunities and stay tax-compliant in case of IRS tax audit.
If you like using paper receipts, store them in a locked and secure cabinet, and organize them neatly. It's wise to have a backup copy of your records in case anything gets lost.
You can also use cloud-based bookkeeping software to store these documents easily. Scan receipts with your phone or send electronic bills directly to your online bookkeeping system for safekeeping and organization.
4. Set Reminders for Crucial Business Deadlines
As a business owner, you dedicate most of your time sorting out series of issues. With a lot to manage, it's easy to forget payment deadlines for GST, payroll, and invoices.
To prevent missing these important deadlines that might result in fines or upset partners, create reminders. You can achieve this using your online email calendar or smartphone.
Writing down notes a few days before deadlines, and regularly reviewing them on your physical calendar, can help you stay organized and on track.
5. Build an Audit Trail
Regardless of your diligence in managing your financial records, there is always a possibility of facing a tax audit. You should keep records that prove what you've bought (expenses) and what your customers have paid for (income).
An audit trail consists of documents that confirm the accuracy of the transactions in your financial records. If you ever face problems like mistakes in your taxes, missing papers, or not knowing where transactions came from, your audit trail will help you go back and figure things out.
6. Know Your Business Expenses
It's hard to know exactly what expenses you'll have when you begin your business and which ones you can deduct from your taxes. For example, expenses related to running your company and generating income can be deducted from taxes. But if you purchase any item only for personal use, you can't include it in your business expenses.
Just because you use the same account for business and personal stuff, it doesn't mean you can say everything you buy is a business expense. You have to check what your country's tax laws allow you to claim. If you're unsure about what you can deduct, talk to an accountant or visit your local tax office for clarification.
7. Make Regular Financial Reports
A bookkeeping strategy is not just about managing your taxes. When you keep accurate bookkeeping, it helps you track your income and expenditures. Furthermore, the best accounting software, like Quickbooks online, can help you monitor your finances.
While conducting monthly check-ups is beneficial, it can be valuable to conduct a more thorough examination of your accounting and bookkeeping records quarterly. During this review, carefully observe trends such as fluctuations in sales, significant expenses, or signs of customers paying late.
Reviewing your financial data properly will assist you in planning for improved cash flow in the future.
8. Track Cash Payments
When you're just starting your business, it's simple to overlook this, but it's important to also keep track of cash payments. This means that any cash that comes into your business should be deposited into the business bank account before you use it, even for business expenses.
It might be tempting to use cash right away for buying supplies, but doing this can quickly disrupt your bookkeeping. When you write down cash payments, don't forget to mention which customer paid, so you don't accidentally follow up with them later.
Furthermore, if you're not sure how to handle cash payments in your accounting software, reach out to a bookkeeper for assistance in setting it up and using it the right way.
9. Budget for Your Taxes
There are few things as great as knowing that your business is earning money. You might notice you're starting to make a profit and want to reinvest all the retained earnings back into the business right away.
Investing some parts of your company's profit in things that would bring in more profits is a good idea. However, don't rush into doing it so that you don't tie down your working capital.
It's important to keep in mind that a portion of your income will be set aside for tax expenses when the year ends. Consider saving a portion of your income, such as around 20%, to ensure you have enough funds left to cover your bills.
If you find it challenging to keep this money in your business account for some personal reasons, consider using a different bank account.
10. Understanding the Basics of Bookkeeping
Some business owners believe they don't need to understand tax and accounting rules when they have a professional handling their books, and this feeling might persist even with automated accounting software in place.
Nevertheless, even though these resources lower your chances of encountering tax issues, it's advisable for business owners to be knowledgeable about their taxes.
Take some time to go online and read up on everything you might need to know based on the type of business you operate. There are several free online bookkeeping courses with certificates that you can enroll in to expand your knowledge.
11. Outsource Bookkeeping Services to a Professional Bookkeeper
Using cloud-based accounting systems like Xero, Quickbooks, and Reckon can definitely lighten the load for business owners. However, it's worth emphasizing that having a professional bookkeeper can still be incredibly valuable and shouldn't be overlooked.
Outsourcing bookkeeping services to an experienced bookkeeper or bookkeeping firm will benefit your business in the following ways:
- Expertise and experience
- Accuracy and reliability
- Focus on core business activities
- Access to advanced technology
- Compliance and regulatory knowledge
- Reduced risk of errors
- Financial analysis and insights
When you have your books professionally organized through outsourced bookkeeping services, it becomes easier to make crucial business decisions because you have a clear understanding of your business's financial performance.
12. Prioritize Your Books
While keeping track of all your business expenses may not be an interesting task, it undeniably deserves a place of the utmost importance on your to-do list. A single error on a tax report or disorganized invoices in your bookkeeping can lead to significant disruptions in your life.
Right from the start, it's important to have a plan to keep your financial records organized and current. While you don't have to reconcile everything every single day, it's a good practice to go through your financial information periodically, let's say least once a month.
Conclusion: Small Business Bookkeeping Tips
Whether you are personally managing the majority of your accounting tasks or employing a professional to oversee them, implementing the appropriate bookkeeping strategy is essential. Follow the bookkeeping tips for self-employed individuals that we mentioned in this article and learn how to manage your cash flow, taxes and grow your business.
10 FAQs and Answers on Efficient Bookkeeping Tips for Small Businesses
Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about efficient bookkeeping along with their answers:
1. What is efficient bookkeeping, and why is it important?
Efficient bookkeeping involves maintaining accurate and organized financial records for a business. It is crucial because it helps track income and expenses, ensures compliance with tax regulations, and provides insights for making informed financial decisions.
2. What are some common bookkeeping mistakes to avoid?
Common mistakes include neglecting to reconcile accounts, mixing personal and business finances, failing to keep proper records of expenses, and not categorizing transactions correctly. Efficient bookkeeping avoids these errors.
3. How can I organize my financial records for efficient bookkeeping?
Start by setting up a dedicated business bank account, keeping all receipts and invoices, and using accounting software or spreadsheets to track transactions. Regularly categorize and reconcile your records.
4. Are there any recommended bookkeeping software or tools?
Popular bookkeeping software includes QuickBooks, Xero, and Wave. Choose one that suits your business's size and needs.
5. What is the best frequency for reconciling bank statements?
It's advisable to reconcile bank statements monthly to ensure accuracy and catch any discrepancies promptly.
6. How can I streamline my invoicing and expense tracking processes?
Use online invoicing tools, automate recurring expenses, and keep digital records to streamline these processes.
7. What are the essential financial reports every business should generate regularly?
The key reports generated by bookkeepers and accountants include profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. These provide insights into your business's financial health.
8. How can I ensure compliance with tax regulations through efficient bookkeeping?
Maintain meticulous records, separate personal and business expenses, and consult with a tax professional to stay up-to-date with tax obligations.
9. What is the role of a professional accountant or bookkeeper in efficient bookkeeping?
Accountants and bookkeepers can assist in organizing systems, keeping accurate records, offering financial insights, and making sure you follow tax rules.
10. Can you provide tips for managing cash flow effectively through bookkeeping?
Monitor your cash flow regularly, create a budget, reduce unnecessary expenses, and consider establishing a line of credit for emergencies.