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5 Bookkeeping Tips for Small Businesses

Keeping up with accounting tasks can be demanding for any business, but if you run a small business and handle the bookkeeping yourself, things can get overwhelming in a hurry!

To prevent things from getting out of hand, it’s smart to implement a foolproof system that makes sense for your company’s size, revenue, and industry and that also works for your busy schedule. You want to create a simple, effective process that allows you to track and record all finances related to your business quickly and easily. This way, all your expenses, invoices, deposits, and other financial information will all be neatly stored and accounted for once tax season does arrive in the spring.

Here are five great tips to get you started on the path to bookkeeping bliss for your small business.

Go Paperless

Modern accounting software has revolutionized small business bookkeeping. Most platforms provide everything you need to manage your company’s accounting, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for just any software.

Choose a software program that is specifically designed for small business owners, as these platforms will have built-in templates that allow you to easily input and track basic items, such as invoices, deposits, and check printing. By electing to use a cloud-based system, you can also access your files from anywhere and be sure that your information is securely stored in one reliable location.

Save for Taxes

If you fail to put aside an adequate amount for your year-end taxes, you could be in for a nightmare this spring when tax season rolls around. The good news is that if you oversee your own business financials, you have control over how much money you are saving for tax season.

Reviewing your returns from the previous three to five years can help you determine how much you should be setting aside each month, but once you’ve set a reasonable figure, do not decrease this amount. It can be very easy to develop bad habits once you start borrowing a little here or a little there, so make sure that you are withholding consistent amounts on a predetermined day each month.

Avoid Cash

The less cash you use to run your business, the better off you will be. As opposed to digital transactions, cash is extremely difficult to track, and if you’re hoping to write off significant expenses during tax season, cash makes it even harder to do so since there’s often little to no record of cash purchases.

However, by using debit or credit cards, you can track exactly how much you are spending, as well as when, where, and for what reason. Electronic payments help create an audit trail for you to reference should you ever need to substantiate any tax write-offs. You can also sync your company cards to your accounting software, which streamlines the entire bookkeeping process and helps ensure consistency and accuracy across the board.

RELATED: Resolving Tax Debt for Small Businesses

(*Note: I realize that old habits die hard. I managed our books by hand for years, but as your business continues to grow, this process becomes more and more difficult. The fact is that it’s time to start using the tools available to you.)

Review Your Finances Regularly

The best way to keep up with your bookkeeping is to keep a strict schedule and vigorously review your company’s financials at least every other week. Twice each month, you should schedule roughly one to two hours to go over your company’s deposits, withdrawals, transfers, purchases, and other key items.

Even if you have invested in trustworthy software to help you manage your accounts, that software requires some human intervention and is still subject to human error. While reviewing your books isn’t the most glamorous task, the peace of mind that comes with having accurate records cannot be overstated.

Taking time to review will also give you a good opportunity to check your accounts receivable to ensure that your clients are paying their bills regularly and on time. If you notice any discrepancies or failure to pay, you can apply some gentle pressure so that your books will be current come tax season.

If you don’t have room in your busy schedule to review your finances on a regular basis, it might be time to start thinking about hiring a part-time bookkeeper ― we offer modest rates and excellent service. But be sure to use a bookkeeping service on a monthly or quarterly basis rather than waiting until the end of the year. This way, you can correct mistakes before they become something more troubling, and you’ll likely also get cheaper rates, as many services are looking to maintain consistent income during their off season.

Prepare for Major Expenses

If you fail to plan for major expenses, you will almost certainly find yourself regretting it at some point. This is especially true if you work in a highly competitive industry and are unable to take advantage of a golden opportunity simply because you do not have enough capital set aside.

However, saving requires a conservative approach to handling your day-to-day business needs. Be sure to save in minor increments over a scheduled period so you can continue to execute your daily operations at a high level; meanwhile, stash away a healthy rainy-day fund for future expenses like updated machinery or an upgrade to your company’s computer systems.

Compile all costs, including payroll payments and other overhead figures. Once you are confident that you have an accurate number, you also need to determine how much your business will need to clear each month to remain profitable, including the cost of insurance paid annually. From there you can detract average costs (be generous in your calculations) and then develop an accurate and ample savings schedule.

Contact S.H. Block for Help with All Your Company’s Financial Needs

If you’ve already tried following the tips listed above and still feel that you’re in over your head with your company’s financials, please contact S.H. Block today by completing this brief form or calling (410) 793-1231. We have convenient office locations in Columbia, Annapolis, and Baltimore and we are eager to schedule an appointment with you to discuss your small business’s tax and accounting needs.

In addition to providing quality tax problem representation for individuals and small businesses, we also have a wealth of experience assisting small businesses with their bookkeeping needs. We would love the opportunity to review your current accounting processes, which will help us diagnose your primary issues, develop a plan of action that may improve on your current bookkeeping strategies, and then execute that plan to deliver transformative results.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. Please read our full disclaimer here.

4 replies
  1. Tyler Meredith
    Tyler Meredith says:

    I like what you mention about reviewing your finances regularly. It makes sense that this is important to help prevent all sorts of issues in the future. What you said about this being a good time to check a client’s payment history and trends is also interesting because it could help solve issues that you might not even know exist. The help of professional would be particularly helpful for an example like this to make sure everything is done right.

    Reply
  2. Derek Dewitt
    Derek Dewitt says:

    My cousin wants to become an accountant for a business one days and has been looking for tips on how to prepare. I like that you suggest going paperless and using software for bookkeeping instead. With so many programs these days to keep track of financial records I would say this is helpful advice! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  3. Ashley Maxwell
    Ashley Maxwell says:

    Thanks for your comment about how you should use software programs instead of paper to better your bookkeeping. I like how you said that you can keep track of your business items easier this way. If a small-business owner was considering bookkeeping services, I would assume that they would follow these tips.

    Reply
  4. Jhon Smith
    Jhon Smith says:

    Saving for Taxes is a great idea. Because it becomes a great burden at the time of tax paying. But saving a small amount of money every day will ease the burden. From now on I will try to follow the idea of saving the taxes. Thanks for sharing the idea with us.

    Reply

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