Bookkeeping Basics

Depending on the size of your business and amount of sales, you can create your own ledgers and reports, or rely on accounting software. The Income Statement (often referred to as a Profit and Loss, or P&L) is the financial statement that shows the revenues, expenses, and profits over a given time period. Revenue earned is shown at the top of the report and various costs are subtracted from it until all costs are accounted for; the result being Net Income.

Easy But Vital Bookkeeping Practices You Should Follow

Double-entry bookkeeping may not seem like the most interesting topic, but it’s vital to understand how it works. Most businesses these days use accounting software instead of physical books, but the principles are still important to grasp. We’ll keep it simple, and use examples to make everything clear. By the end, you won’t be a fully qualified accountant, of course.

what is basic bookkeeping

After you’ve sent an invoice, follow up at the end of the month with a statement of account—a printed list of all open items. If the client sees an invoice listed on the statement that they do not have in their system, they will ask you to provide another copy. As the due date approaches, phone the client’s bookkeeper or accounts payable department to verify that the invoice has indeed been scheduled for payment. If it has not, you may need to provide additional information or ask your primary client contact to intercede to get the paperwork back on track.

They may group transactions into categories like good or service, wage, tax, or another general business operation. In short, bookkeeping is just one facet of doing business and keeping good financial records. With well-managed bookkeeping, your business can closely monitor its financial capabilities and journey toward heightened profits, breakthrough growth, and deserved success. Receipts are written notices acknowledging that one party received something of value from another. An acknowledgement of ownership, receipts are proof of a financial transaction.

Is becoming a certified bookkeeper worth it?

However, if you’re just starting out in bookkeeping, or if you’re trying to set yourself apart from other bookkeepers, the various bookkeeping or technology certifications may be very worth your while as they might enable you to charge more, market your services more effectively, and, in fact, do a better job given

Nevertheless, finding the right accountant is an essential element of monitoring and managing the financial well-being of your business. Having an expert third-party review your records means you’ll be alerted to problems with your recordkeeping methodology or just plain computational errors. Better to have your accountant tell you this, rather than the IRS.

  • You may want financial statements every quarter, or even monthly.
  • If you are having financial statements prepared, you will want them done at least annually.
  • However, annual financial statements may not be enough to help you keep tabs on your business.
  • At a minimum, you will need your accountant to help you close the books annually because you have to file an income tax return every year.
  • Journal entries can be made from invoices, purchase orders, sales receipts, and similar documents, which are usually kept on file for a specified length of time.
  • Journal entries are typically made into a computer from paper documents that contain information about the transaction to be recorded.

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If an account has a debit balance, the balance amount is copied into Column Two ; if an account has a credit balance, the amount is copied into Column Three . The debit column is then totalled, and then the credit column is totalled. The two totals must agree—which is not by chance—because under the double-entry rules, whenever there is a posting, the debits of the posting equal the credits of the posting. If the two totals do not agree, an error has been made, either in the journals or during the posting process. The error must be located and rectified, and the totals of the debit column and the credit column recalculated to check for agreement before any further processing can take place. Bookkeepers may take trial balances occasionally to ensure that the journal entries have been posted accurately to every account.

Any and every transaction you make needs to be recorded, either in your ledger book or in your accounting software application. Keep in mind that in most cases, you can edit the chart of accounts to better suit your business. It’s also a good idea to become familiar with the accounts included in your chart of accounts, which will make it much easier when you begin to enter financial transactions. A debit entry can increase the balance of some accounts, while a credit entry can increase the balance of other accounts. It will be helpful for you to understand this principle before posting any transactions. Assets are what the company owns such as its inventory and accounts receivables. Assets also include fixed assets which are generally the plant, equipment, and land.

what is basic bookkeeping

The Balance Sheet is one of the two most common financial statements produced by accountants. This section pertains to potentially confusing terms that retained earnings balance sheet relate to the balance sheet. If bookkeeping begins taking up too much of your time as your business grows, it may be a good idea to hire help.

Mixing together personal and business expenses in the same account can also result in unnecessary stress when you need to file taxes or do your bookkeeping. It could mean a business expense gets lost in your personal account and you miss out on an important deduction. If you need to borrow money from someone other than friends and family, you’ll need to have your books together.

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It might be a virtual record rather than a hard copy, but the overall file is still called the general ledger. Bookkeeping begins with setting up each necessary account so you can record transactions in the appropriate categories. You likely won’t have the same exact accounts as the business next door, but many accounts are common. The table below shows some frequently used small-business accounts and their types. It’s time-consuming to keep up with multiple ledgers and maintain accuracy, so if your plans include growing your business, you’ll need to use accounting software. While accounting software can feel intimidating to those with no bookkeeping or accounting experience, many products are designed specifically for the financial novice. Once your bank accounts have been reconciled and any adjustments made in your recording tool of choice, you’ll want to close the month and print financial statements.

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what is basic bookkeeping

A bookkeeping system is merely an established method of tracking income and expenses so that you can readily tell how your business is faring. Although specifics can vary among companies, most adhere to bookkeeping and accounting the generally accepted accounting principles developed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the accounting profession. Bookkeeping systems can be simple or complex, manual or computerized.

Additional Accounting Student Resources

What are the three methods of accounting?

The are three accounting methods:Cash Basis.
Accrual Basis.
Hybrid Method.

Hiring an educated accountant will allow you to gain a more complete and accurate picture of your business’s financial health. How often you post transaction to the ledger from the journals will depend on your transaction bookkeeping volume. However, this should be done consistently to ensure that you are not suddenly overwhelmed with work at the end of an accounting period. Again, accounting software will help you stay up-to-date on these processes.

Determining payroll includes keeping track of hours worked, distributing payments, and separating out money for Social Security and Medicare taxes. A journal entry refers to a business transaction recorded in a business’s general ledger. A journal entry may include the journal entry date and number, account name and number, debit, and credit.

This content is for information purposes only and should not be considered legal, accounting or tax advice, or a substitute for obtaining such advice specific to your business. No assurance is given that the information is comprehensive in its coverage or that it is suitable in dealing with a customer’s particular situation. Intuit Inc. does not have any responsibility for updating or revising any information presented herein. Accordingly, the information provided should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research.

Posting is the process by which account balances in the appropriate ledger are changed. While account balances may be recorded and computed periodically, the only time account balances are changed in the ledger is when a journal entry indicates such a change is necessary.

This method tells you how much cash you have on hand, but it does not tell you where your money went. When you write a check, you decrease cash, but at the same time, you increase the account corresponding to the reason for the expense, such as office supplies or utilities. While the job of bookkeeper may appear similar as an accountant, they are only similar on the surface. A bookkeeper records all of the financial transactions for a adjusting entries business, while an accountant’s job is to interpret and analyze the data recorded by the bookkeeper. If you use cash accounting, you record your transaction when cash changes hands. At the end of the appropriate time period, the accountant takes over and analyzes, reviews, interprets and reports financial information for the business firm. The accountant also prepares year-end financial statements and the proper accounts for the firm.

These general rules were established so that it is easier to compare ‘apples to apples’ when looking at a business’s financial reports. A General Ledger is the complete record of a company’s financial transactions. The GL is used in order to prepare all of the Financial Statements. Accounts Receivable include all of the revenue that a company has provided but has not yet collected payment on. This account is on the Balance Sheet, recorded as an asset that will likely convert to cash in the short-term. Accounts Payable include all of the expenses that a business has incurred but has not yet paid. This account is recorded as a liability on the Balance Sheet as it is a debt owed by the company.

Plus, most accounting software starts you off with double-entry bookkeeping anyway. With the software all ready to go, you can tackle double-entry bookkeeping with no sweat. Alternatively, you can pay an accountant, bookkeeper, or outsourced accounting company to manage your accounts and ledger for you. Knowing the accounts you need to track for your business is one thing; setting them up is another. Back in the day, charts of accounts were recorded in a physical book called the general ledger . But now, most businesses use computer software to record accounts.

If your desk or filing cabinet does eventually become a bit crowded, older items can always be moved to offsite storage. Your receipts journal is a chronological listing of all money that has come to the business within a certain period of time. The receipts journal identifies each payment by date, amount and source, along with an indication of what it was for. Without appropriate bookkeeping strategies, your company is exceptionally vulnerable to legal difficulties and cash flow problems.

Post corrected entries in the journal and ledger, then follow the process again until the accounts are balanced. Then you’re ready to close the books and prepare financial reports. You have been recording journal entries to accounts as debits and credits. At the end of the period, you’ll “post” these entries to the accounts themselves in the general ledger and adjust the account balances accordingly.

As your business grows and you start earning, your accounting system will need to become more robust. The key to a successful online bookkeeping business is to make sure everything is on track. The more organized you are, the easier for you to manage your business.

Single-entry bookkeeping is much like keeping your check register. You record transactions as you pay bills and make deposits into your company account. It only works if your company is relatively small with a low volume of transactions. You’ll find that it’s a lot easier to track your finances using software than it is to do everything manually. Currently, the two most commonly used financial applications in the United States for small, Macintosh-based creative firms are MYOB and Quickbooks. Your initial use of either application will probably focus on the check register.

You can then use that picture to make decisions about your business’s future. To record a transaction, first determine the accounts that will be debited and credited. For example, imagine that you’ve just purchased a new point-of-sale system for your retail business.