Small Business Accounting

Accounting — it’s every entrepreneur’s favorite topic. Or, it’s at least a subject that every business owner has to think about. Ideally, you have a good handle on accounting principles and the methods for staying on top of your company’s financial health.

Accounting involves recording, categorizing and analyzing a business’ financial details. It’s essentially “the language of business” because it provides essential information about the company.

Accounting is vital because it enables business owners to comply with tax and other financial requirements and enables them to make informed business decisions. Even if you have an accountant or bookkeeper dealing with your daily number-crunching tasks, you still should understand the fundamentals of your company’s finances.

Choosing the best business accounting software

Business accounting software comes with many different functions, from tracking income and spending to running payroll for employees. At the very least, you need to be able to invoice customers and receive payments, as well as have a way to track it all. You also want a method for monitoring the overall financial health of your company.

Technology is your friend in this endeavor. But with so many tech tools for business accounting on the market, it can be tricky to choose the best one. Before you begin your search, make a list of the things you want your accounting solution to do, ranked in order of importance. Consider the following:

  • Do you need invoicing functionality?
  • Is mobile access essential?
  • Will you be running payroll?
  • Is cost savings more important than usability?

Once you know what you want in an accounting software package, you’re ready to start your search. Here’s a handy list of some of the best small business accounting software options on the market to help you decide. Check out the features, cost, and the pros and cons of each solution to help you narrow down your search.

Separating business and personal finances

Keeping business and personal finances separate is the No. 1 rule for new business owners — even for a freelancer launching a side gig as a sole proprietor. Before you invoice your first client for a product or service, you should set up a separate bank account under your business name — or under your personal name if you’re a sole proprietor. Use this account for any money coming into your business or funds you spend on business needs. If you want to use any of your business money for personal affairs, transfer it into a personal account.

Maintaining this separation is essential not only because it allows you to accurately track the finances of your business, it also eases your business tax payments, enables you to track business write-offs, facilitates any audits you might undergo and discourages you from spending money you need for your business on personal whims. If you are planning to use accounting software, chances are you can link it to your bank account — a function that benefits you only if the account is dedicated to your business.

5 small business accounting tips

Here are some valuable tips and tricks to keep in mind when approaching your business’ books.

  1. Maintain accurate records. Keeping accurate books is one of a business owner’s most essential tasks. Failing to keep correct records can quickly become a problem. You might fail to price your products profitably, follow up on late payments or pay back debts on time. You might spend beyond your means. There are many other pitfalls in store if you keep sloppy books — don’t find out what they are.
  2. Create a balance sheet. This essential financial tracking tool provides a snapshot of business finances and helps track cash inflow and outflow. An accurate, up-to-date balance sheet allows you to analyze and compare various aspects of your business.
  3. Choose an accounting method. Decide whether you are going to keep your books using the cash or the accrual method of accounting. Cash accounting — the more common method — accounts only for payments that are received. Accrual accounting counts a transaction when an order is placed or a service occurs.
  4. Keep business and personal finances separate. A big mistake some small business owners make is to mingle personal and business finances — many have a single bank account for both. Every business — even a sole proprietorship — should have its own bank account, debit or credit card and checks.
  5. Don’t pay for services you don’t need. It’s very easy to spring for bells and whistles regarding services or software you choose for your business. Maybe you’ll need it eventually, so why not? But a primary goal of every business owner should be keeping costs down, so think carefully about what is essential to your business processes before committing.

 

Recent small business accounting articles

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