Taking responsibility for bookkeeping in your small business can be a stressful and quickly overwhelming step. It can easily get out of control if you’re not vigilant, and sometimes it’s even hard to know where to begin. 

Recording the basic flows of money in and out of your business and reconciling different accounts is essential for keeping your business healthy and creating space for success. A business needs regular cash flow to take advantage of growth opportunities when they arise. You know you have to take it seriously, but there’s so much to keep track of that it can be paralyzing.

Fortunately for you, you don’t have to do it alone. Here are a few tips from professionals for making accounting easier. Draw on their years of experience and find out how to work more efficiently.  

1 – Divide Paperwork into Subfolders

Organize financial documents very carefully. Make separate subfolders for every type of file or document you have:

  • Bank statements
  • Receipts
  • Loan agreements
  • Pay stubs and other payroll-related documents needed for payroll reconciliation
  • Business formation documents 
  • Tax notices and other tax-related documents
  • Uploaded financial statements

This is so that anyone reviewing your books—whether it be you, a bookkeeper, tax preparer, internal reviewing manager, or auditor—will not have to take time sifting through loads of uploaded financial supporting information from one collection of unorganized documents.”

-Rudy Robles, CAS Supervisor  

2 – Separate Out Personal Accounts

“If you’ve linked your business bank accounts, credit card accounts, and some personal accounts that have business transactions, things can get messy. A good way to organize all this is to create subfolders for each account within a bank statement folder. Afterward, you can sift through each and keep the business accounts for reconciliation purposes.  

Personal accounts, in order to avoid confusion for everyone, should not be linked in your books.  You can capture the business transactions from your personal accounts and file them separately by using journal entries. Go through and highlight the items in your personal account statements and upload the statement for supporting information.”

-Marcia Rosa, Remote Bookkeeper

3 – Make Lists of Tasks Every Day 

“Map out your day before you get going so you have an idea of what needs to get done for that particular day. Make to-do lists for everything you need to accomplish—for example, reviewing books, bank reconciliation, etc.—and then start checking things off so you make sure you don’t miss anything.

If you don’t get to everything on any particular day, you can carry some items over to the next day’s list. This way nothing important gets forgotten and you’ll be more likely to stay on track during the day.”

-Kacie Brunza, Remote Bookkeeper

4 – Use the Previous Year as a Guide

“One thing you can do for an existing bookkeeping account is export the prior year’s General Ledger (GL) to Excel and organize it to create a GL account “Cheat Sheet” to use moving forward. 

While it can only take you so far, past account records can help you with formatting and ensure you include everything you need to. Comparing the current year to the prior one can also help you spot discrepancies.”

-Christian Farrad, Bookkeeper 

5 – Keep Important Information All Together

“If you’re always going back to certain accounts or requests, or you find yourself hunting down certain old emails or messages on a regular basis, consider compiling copies of these files in one place for easy access. 

Some professional bookkeepers keep a spreadsheet with a complete list of clients and their status to help them keep records in order. It might also help to have a whiteboard or some kind of document you can update frequently with new requests or messages.”

-Sara Hussain, CAS Manager 

6 – Leave Statements in Separate Files

“When catching up on reconciliations, make sure you break it up by statement. It’s tempting to go to the most current statement date, type in the balance and go from there. However, when there’s a discrepancy, you can’t pinpoint what month the discrepancy is in.  

It may take a little more time and effort to pull up each statement, but it will save time if there’s a difference that needs to be addressed.”

-Taneka Deveaux, Manager of Accounting Services

7 – Always Take Notes

“Leave detailed notes as you go every day. You can never leave too many notes! For example, when adding expenses or transactions through journal entries, you never want to skip the description section. This is crucial for maintaining good financial records

While it’s easy to think that you’ll remember the details while fresh in your mind, they definitely won’t be as clear in a few months. The notes you take will be incredibly helpful later on.”

-Nenita Juarez, CAS Manager

Get Outside Help 

If doing your company’s bookkeeping on your own becomes too heavy of a task, you could also consider outsourcing to an external bookkeeping company or software. Bringing in a professional who can keep your books organized accurately and efficiently can save valuable time and money and leave you to focus on the work that really needs your attention. 

The important thing is that your finances are organized and your business is healthy, however it gets done. Money is like oxygen to your business, and with regular streams of cash coming in and going out of your business all the time, it takes hard work and a vigilant eye to make sure your business has the healthy flow of air it needs to thrive.

 

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Written by Joshua Meller

Josh Meller is Sr. Manager of Accounting Services in the Pacific zone at 1-800Accountant. Before shifting into tax & accounting, he work...