How to Set up Your Bookkeeping as a Small Business Owner
Bookkeeping is so critical to the financial health of your business. When you have accurate figures you can see exactly how much money is coming in and where it is being spent. Most importantly you can see if you have any money left over!
As a small business owner there’s so many things demanding your attention constantly. If it’s not suppliers letting you down its customers not showing up on time and staff leaving. Arrgh!
Due to the frantic nature of operating a small business, bookkeeping can be often overlooked.
So if I ask you how you’re profit is tracking this month could you give me an answer?
Do you know how much money you have in the bank?
Without your eye on the ball you can be flat out super busy but not actually profitable and you won’t realise before it’s too late! Don’t let that be you lovely.
This bookkeeping checklist will supercharge your business profits because you’ll be able to create accurate accounts and know exactly where your money is coming from and going to.
This enables you to maximise income producing activities and limit expenses and creates peace of mind knowing everything is taken care of.
Following this checklist also limits missed deductions and reduces your accounting fees which saves you big money.
I’ve had clients who have picked up accountant’s errors because they know exactly what’s going on in their businesses finances and they know the right questions to ask.
How would that feel for you? Pretty awesome hey?
So let’s get started. As a small business superstar I will assume you have a bookkeeping software / system already.
I use MYOB / Quickbooks (QB) / Xero and they are all fine, if you’re tight on funds Excel is another option you can use as well.
Or if you’re old school (or a masochist lol) the old ledger books from the newsagency are acceptable too.
To keep it simple I’ll assume you’re using QB.
So to help you out here is a list of tasks I perform in my bookkeeping business to help support my small business entrepreneurs.
- Enter all customer receipts in QB as they are received
- Record customer invoices once service is performed
- Count and replenish the cash register
- Record all credit card purchases.
- Do the banking at days end
- Back up your accounting records and take them offsite.
Batching your tasks is the most efficient use of your time and ensures you make minimal errors.
It’s ideal if you have two different people involved. One to record all the transactions and one to do the reporting / payments.
The reason for this is it’s hard to see errors in your own work. Also if only one person is involved (that’s not you) there’s increased risk of fraud if no one else is checking up on them.
Keep these guys happy to keep your supplies flowing freely. Make sure you pay according to their terms and take up any early payment discounts they offer.
You need to treat employees and contractors like gold.
HR costs aren’t only the hourly rate it’s the training and hiring costs related to sourcing their replacement if they leave you!
While you can do it all yourself as the driven business women you are, you do need help especially if you want to scale.
Ideally you should be in the position where you’re making the most money for your time (and that’s not usually admin!)
Reconcile Bank Account
This is where you’ll pick up errors like double payments, lost cheques etc.
This needs to be done so the figures you are looking at are reliable. Very important as you’ll be basing your business decisions on them.
Check Supplier Statements
Make sure you’re system accurately reflects what your supplier says is outstanding. By looking at supplier statements this picks up things like duplicate invoices & mis-allocated payments.
The quicker an error is picked up the easier and quicker it is to resolve. You don’t need to keep these.
Once you’re all good you can bin.
Send Out Customer Invoices
This is your money honey so get those invoices out ASAP!
If you’re like me and a little shy about this step think of it this way:
- Customers will be waiting for it as they are so happy with the work you’ve done they want to do the right thing and pay you!
- The longer you wait, the longer it is since you’ve actually performed the work and the customer may forget what you actually did.
- It’s normal business process so don’t make it so personal. It’s not that big of a deal.
- You are setting expectations and demonstrating your professionalism – all good things.
Ugh! Boring and I hate it.
BUT an absolute godsend when you’ve got an accountant or auditor with you – breathing down your neck!
Nothing like being able to put your hands on documents when you’re under pressure like that.
Try electronic scanning if you hate paper.
If you absolutely hate it, outsource it #moneywellspent
Adjust Cash Flow Report
Check in with your forecasted figures and measure how you are tracking.
Knowing you have enough money coming in to meet your bills keeps you organised and most importantly legal.
Meet with all stakeholders (business partners & staff) and discuss this report so you can agree on the allocation of resources for the coming month.
You’ll need to know if you can order your beautiful Kikki K stationary J or if you’ll need to hustle to make payroll for the month.
Totally different scenarios.
Do this weekly so you can adjust and pivot quickly if needed. I’d do it monthly too with the focus on where you’re at in relation to last year.
Back up accounting records
Reconcile Bank Accounts
Check your bookkeeping system matches your bank statements. Make sure all accounts are done before month end reporting starts.
Calculate Liabilities and Transfer to Bank Account
Liabilities like payroll taxes, superannuation, GST.
While these are paid quarterly I highly recommend my clients stash the cash for these in advance.
Each month we calculate how much we need to set aside for each and transfer it out of the operating account and park the funds in a high interest online account so it doesn’t get spent.
(eg Telephone expense in the Telephone account)
Run a General Ledger Detail report for the month and make sure expenses are where they should be.
This will help the accountant out and more importantly save you paying them to fix things if your accounts are a big mess.
Call Outstanding Debts
You my girl, are not a charity! If people want your amazing services then they should fully expect to pay for them.
Yes, sometimes a little gentle phone call is needed for people who have genuinely forgotten, but those who drag their feet are costing you time following them up, in addition to the time you already billed for.
You really need to assess whether their total customer value is worth this hassle.
Review Profit and Loss
Check back to what was originally budgeted.
How are you tracking in relation to sales, expenses and more importantly profit?
Like the cash flow analysis it’s important to know where you are sitting in regards to where you expected to be at the start of the month, so you can keep your finances on track.
Update Cash Flow
As mentioned above in the weekly tasks check this report monthly as well. Yes. It’s that important!
If you have stock do an inventory check at the end of each month to replenish the shelves.
Consider if you are coming into a high volume season (eg Christmas) and make sure to place your order in plenty of time.
Imagine how heartbreaking it would be to have paying customers waving their money at you and having nothing to sell to them. Don’t let this happen to you J
Review Payroll Reports
Check that all your hours are as you expect them to be.
As above make sure to take into account any busy times ahead to ensure trained staff are available when you need them.
Also consider overtime or penalty rates that may be required and how you’re going to pay for them.
Back up Accounting Records and Take the Copy Offsite
Transfer Tax Obligations
If your business is registered for quarterly GST you’ll need to prepare these reports and lodge by the due date.
Generally you have 28 days after the reporting quarter ends (eg Pay quarter Apr-Jun by the 28th of July)
Required by law to be received by the complying super fund 28 days after the quarter ends.
You will need to pay the superannuation guarantee charge if it’s late so make sure it’s sent off in plenty of time.
Write off Bad Debts
If you’ve called and called and their avoiding you like you’ve got the plague then you can sadly kiss your money goodbye.
Don’t make it worse by declaring this income you never got as you will also be taxed on it!
Count your inventory to provide an accurate figure to your accountant. This must be exactly as at the 30th June.
Review the Yearly Reports
See how you went compared to your budget and your expectations.
Is there some service you offer that your clients absolutely love that was a surprise to you? Alternatively are there some services you can drop that aren’t profitable for you?
End of Year Payroll Reporting
Provide staff with their payment summaries, so they can do their own tax returns.
Check you’ve complied with superannuation legislation and transferred the required amount to their complying fund.
Back up accounting records and take the copy offsite
(have I said this enough??)
If you’ve ever had your system go down it will be guaranteed to be when you are under the pump or when you’ve got at least a years’ worth of data to lose!
It takes two seconds to back up. It takes two weeks of being on hold and stuffed around by computer technicians to get your data back.
If they can.
Oh and it’ll cost more than a 5 star trip to Europe because it’s an emergency lol.
Just back up ok?
While you may or may not do all of these tasks yourself, it’s still important to know what tasks are needed to be done so you can outsource and supervise them yourself.
At the end of the day it is your responsibility as business owner, not your bookkeeper’s and not your accountant’s that the numbers are correct.
Whew! What a big list. I’ve made a handy checklist for you to keep and you can get that here.
How do you manage your bookkeeping are you a DIY or an OMG help me kinda girl?
Let us know in the comments below.