Bookkeeping records to produce a set of accounts at the end of the financial year to show the sales turnover, business expenses and the net profit for tax purposes is an essential function of every business enterprise. Medium and larger businesses employ accounts clerks, bookkeepers and accountants to maintain the financial records and produce regular accounting information. Many small businesses chose to do the bookkeeping themselves or outsource the accountancy work.
Small businesses and in particular self employed business have a choice in how the financial accounts are prepared and produced. A small business may employ the services of a bookkeeper to produce the accounts while another similar business may keep a manual record of financial transactions while a third option is to use a bookkeeping software system.
Small business has a choice as to how it produces its financial records. Some simply do nothing but the best option is to make a finite decision regarding the path to take. Financial accounts, financial control over the business activities and the knowledge of how well or badly the business is performing is crucial to success in the business environment.
The underlying necessity is that if the small business does not take a decision on its financial accounting then at the very least it must accumulate documents of prime significance such as sales invoices, purchase invoices and possibly bank records during the financial year and assemble these into some sort of order after the end of the financial year for tax purposes. Failing to keep financial records often results in a succession of administrative burdens and often also leads to financial penalties if taxation deadlines are not met.
A minimum of a manual record of accounting records is required should the smaqll business not use bookkeeping software or utilise the services of an accountant or bookkeeper. Producing an income and expenditure account for the business using the prime financial documents of business is not rocket science and most businessmen capable of running and managing a business have the skills required to producing the bookkeeping records.
The major disadvantage of a small business keeping manual records is that documents get lost which may result in profits and taxes being over declared, fines and penalties through inaccuracies and often when accounting is produced in this way it is done at the end of the financial year purely for tax purposes rather than as an essential tool of the business and that reduces financial control within the business during the financial year to a minimum and often zero.
If a manual bookkeeping system is adopted then disciplined recording of the financial information on a regular basis should be enforced and regarded as an essential function and not an administrative burden. An understanding of the detailed accounting records and the effect on the business allows effective management decisions to be taken earlier than if someone else performs the bookkeeping function.
Other alternatives include utilising bookkeeping software which is effectively often a manual system in itself but within definite parameters to produce the essential information. A bookkeeper might be employed whether a manual system is used or bookkeeping software adopted.
Using bookkeeping software has many advantages. First of all any small business that has purchased bookkeeping software is more likely to keep regular up to date accounts than one that has not. And secondly the bookkeeping software is likely to provide a fixed set of disciplines and produce the type of records a small business requires for both the preparation of regular financial statements and the end of year tax returns.
Another major advantage of bookkeeping software is that records tend to be less likely to be lost or mislaid; the packages can be backed up as required but essential financial performance can be improved by greater financial control. All businesses work towards producing a satisfactory bottom line and only by producing regular financial statements can the business obtain the earliest information to achieve that satisfactory performance.
Bookkeeping software comes in many different formats from simple spreadsheets to more complex data based accounting software. For a small business the bookkeeping software of choice is often a simple system requiring limited accounting knowledge but must also be a package that produces the desired end result.
The worst bookkeeping software is a complex program requiring prior accounting knowledge that the small business either does not fully understand, cannot be bothered or does not have the time to learn and having tried the system then abandons it. Better to avoid the wasted time and effort by choosing the appropriate accounting package at the outset.
Bookkeeping software in effect automates the manual keeping of financial records. The most important aspect of using a bookkeeping package be it a da6tabase accounting system or a simpler set of bookkeeping spreadsheets is the enhanced financial control and the effect that intimate accounting knowledge can have to influence the net profit.
Bookkeeping can be outsourced to an accountant or bookkeeper and there advantages in doing so. A quality outsourced finance function does produce accurate timely financial records. If the small business has a volume of paperwork that becomes a burden to process and keep on top of then a bookkeeper may be the best solution.
Employing a bookkeeper becomes essential when the paperwork burden reaches a stage when it distracts the small business owner from getting on with the main task of operating the business. Outsourcing bookkeeping costs money but may be an appropriate action if the time released can be better spent gaining additional business and improvong profits.
Useful in many circumstances but using a bookkeeper does remove the small business from the detailed accounting records which is a disadvantage in understanding the financial position. A small business manager who prepares the financial accounts tends to see every transaction several times both when the trnasaction is made, the paperwork received and also when entered in the financial accounts. Managed investing