Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How can i learn bookkeeping ? - Some Basic Tips

Good bookkeeping practices are essential to keeping your business running smoothly.

Regardless of the size of your company, good bookkeeping practices are essential to keeping your business running smoothly. Accurately kept books do more than make it easy to file your annual tax returns. Banks may require you to submit a profit and loss statement or balance sheet so they can determine your credit-worthiness. A quick review of your books can show where you need to spend more or less money; who gives you the most business and who takes the longest to pay you; how much you're paying out in commissions compared to how much you're selling.

Here are some general terms that are helpful to know.

ASSETS are things that you own or are owed to you: bank accounts, inventory, loans made to other companies or individuals, company cars, etc.

LIABILITIES are things that you owe: loans, accounts payable, payroll taxes, etc.

EQUITY is net income (sales less expenses), capital stock, and owners/officers distributions.

EXPENSES are things you pay for: business meals, gas for company cars, professional services, postage, etc.

REVENUE is money you earn from the sale of services or product, or from interest earned on a bank account, investment, or a lease or loan of your equipment or property.

COST OF SALES is any expense directly related to earning revenue: product purchases, freight or delivery, sales tax expense, etc.

One of the most valuable resources you can have for a small business is a public accountant. Even if you only take your books in at tax time, having someone to give you specific advice and answer your bookkeeping questions is important. Find an accountant whom you like and trust. If you're having difficulty finding one on your own, talk to other people with similar businesses for recommendations.

Here are some helpful hints that should make good bookkeeping an easy task.

  1. Get organized! Good organization is essential to good bookkeeping. In fact, when you come right down to it, bookkeeping is organizing. There are only four general categories of records you need to keep: bills (accounts payable or A/P), customer invoices (accounts receivable or A/R), payroll (time sheets and pay records), and human resources (employee information not directly related to payroll). File all records for these categories neatly in a system that works for you. Done well and consistently, even shoe boxes work! Even better are expandable, alphabetic file folders. Keep one folder for A/P and one for A/R. If your business is too large for that, invest in file cabinets - anything from small portable cases to floor-to-ceiling lateral files. Get something that fits your volume and your budget. Use a different color file folder for each category of record, and it will be that much easier to keep things organized.

  2. Get an accounting software program, if you can fit it in your budget. This is one place where having an accountant can be very helpful. Ask your accountant to help you select the best program for your needs. An accounting program will collate information you input and present it in helpful reports almost instantly, so you don't have to hunt through your check register or deposit log for the information. Some of these reports can help you pinpoint problem areas, like deadbeat customers or inventory that's not moving, or will help to show employee shrinkage or overtime policy abuse. With a good program, you can get customized reports that will tell you almost anything you want to know. If software is out of the question, you can keep track of everything in a computer spreadsheet or good old traditional ledger books. Even if you have monthly services from your accountant, it's a good idea to keep track of everything on your own. That way, if you need some information in the middle of the month, you'll have it at your fingertips, instead of having to spend a lot of time searching. Keep one spreadsheet/ledger for A/P and one for A/R. If you pay all of your bills every month, your ledger for A/P can simply be your check register, as long as you . . .

  3. keep detailed records of all payments and deposits. As soon as you write a check, write down when it was written, to whom, for what, and how much it was for. Most accounting programs have a check writing feature, and all of this information will automatically be recorded. If you don't have software that will do this, invest in a business desk set checkbook. The checks have large stubs on which you can write down all of the important information. Record as much detail as possible for your deposits, including if they were cash or credit card, and what kind of credit card.

  4. Keep your check register reconciled to your latest bank statement. If a check or deposit doesn't clear the bank within a couple of months, contact the bank or the payee to find out why. If necessary, stop payment, void and re-issue uncleared checks.

  5. Schedule a day of the week for paying bills and for reviewing unpaid customer invoices. Paying bills on time saves you money by avoiding late charges, and some vendors may give you a discount if you pay by a certain time. Don't let your customers lag too far behind in paying their bills. Send out monthly reminders, and set up a policy for when you will send a bill to a collection agency.

  6. If you are a retail seller subject to sales tax, keep detailed records of sales so that you don't collect or pay sales tax on non-taxable items. In many states, labor and freight are non-taxable. If you sell to a tax-exempt entity, make sure that you get a copy of their exemption certificate. Keep those in a separate file, preferably with a list showing each customer's name and exemption number.

  7. Make sure you are in compliance with record-keeping standards. There are some things that you only need to keep for three years, like individual copies of time sheets. Others need to be kept for much longer. For example, all records pertaining to a worker's compensation claim need to be kept forever. Regulations and recommendations change periodically, so (everyone together now) ask your accountant.

  8. There are several companies out there that give continuing education seminars on a range of business topics, from human resource management, to communication skills, to effective accounts payable practice . . . just about anything you can imagine. Go to some seminars. Think about what you want to learn ahead of time, and ask questions that are relevant to your business. Oddly enough, meeting other people who also have lots of questions can be a real confidence builder. You'll know you aren't alone.

  9. Take advantage of the many resources that are available. On-line forums exist for almost any topic. The business section of your local bookstore should have plenty of books for small businesses, or you can check materials out from the library. The Internal Revenue Service has a variety of publications for the small business owner, free of charge, available on their website. Also, the United States Small Business Administration can point you to a wealth of information. There is probably a national association for your type of business. The annual dues may seem high, but the industry specific information that you can get from them may well be worth it. This list could go on and on, but it would still end with this: when in doubt (one more time!), ask your accountant.
As you get more accustomed to keeping your books organized and accurate, you'll be better able to determine what information is really important, e.g. what receipts to keep, and how much detail to enter in your ledgers. You'll save time and money because you'll be getting your bills paid on time, and you'll be able to collect more money from your clients because you'll know how much they owe you, all without having to dig through all of the paperwork on your desk.

Source : http://www.essortment.com/

No comments:

Outsource Bookkeeping Services Outsourcing Services