Individuals and companies who swim in oceans of debt very often drown, but there are ways to keep a small business afloat in choppy financial waters. Read on to learn more about the importance of keeping a good set of commercial accounting records.
Everyone should learn more about the average credit card debt if they intend to escape financial difficulty. Though North Americans are in arguably in far better economic shape than most other developed nations, especially those in Europe, the country is still suffering from the effects of the 2008 recession.
Sub-prime mortgage lending almost brought America to her knees. While the economy has managed to enjoy a slight recovery in the past few years, the financial disaster caused problems for many people and small firms. In particular, consumers have had to rely more on high-interest credit, while businesses continue to struggle in an ailing economy.
One measure that all small firms should implement is an efficient, reliable system of accounting. If checks are to be balanced effectively, companies must keep a record of all financial transactions. The current state of the economy affords no room for error on this, as small business owners must scrutinize every cent that leaves and enters the company.
Times may be tough, but finding the money to invest in good accounting software can pay off in little time at all. An effective accounting system can facilitate budgeting, expose cash-flow problems and identify areas in which money can be saved or invested.
Accounting software should be regarded as the first step towards stabilizing the business activities of a small firm. The programs provide managers and proprietors with real-time information about the financial health of a company. Software is just as useful for managing a business on a day-to-day basis as it is for assessing finances over the month, quarter or year. Managers and in-house accountants might undertake training to learn how to use software effectively.
Documents, receipts, guarantees, check slips, contracts, orders and any other tangible record of a financial transaction should be filed under lock and key. Accounting software is immensely useful for evaluating profits and losses, but apart from sometimes saving images of scanned documents, it is unable to retain evidence of all transactions, many of which will not be electronic. Maintaining a physical filing system remains important for most small firms.
Importance of Keeping Accounts
Lenders, financial advisers and debt-management firms often advise small firms to employ a double-entry system of bookkeeping to ensure that profits and losses are accounted for in full. Accounting mistakes can be extremely costly, so minimizing errors on the front line is essential. If mistakes go unnoticed, businesses can quickly rack up debts. Unexpected tax penalties might also be imposed at the end of the financial year.
Maintaining a good set of accounts enables firms to know exactly where money is coming from and where it is going. An individual will often sink into debt when he or she fails to address an income and expenditure imbalance. The same is true of any business. Understanding how cash flow is operating on a day-to-day basis can make the difference between profitability and bankruptcy.
Accurate accounting can also help firms save money. Daily or weekly cash-flow reports provide managers with up-to-date information on the financial health of their companies. The reports can also uncover disbursements for services that may be tax deductible. Businesses that employ more than one person should also maintain additional ledgers for payroll to ensure that tax is dealt with easily at the end of each year.
All business owners should realize that installing accounting software, filing receipts and reviewing cash-flow reports are necessary steps to take to ensure the efficient operation of a company, but they should also know that none of these steps can take the place of a professional accountant.
In-house or third-party accountants should always be used to go over the company books at the end of the financial year. Accountants are trained to spot basic errors and they are adept at finding ways to save money. Relying on the services of a professional accountant can also prevent a business from paying more tax than is necessary. When handling financial matters, it is always sensible to scrutinize data several times.
Shannen Doherty is a debt, accounting and small business expert who writes for a number of online publications. She advises all Americans to learn more about the average credit card debt, which is affecting many small firms and driving thousands of people further into debt.