Accounting checklist for small business owners
Don’t pop a vein. Get smart about bookkeeping tasks with our accounting checklist…
Reduce frustration. Build accounting tasks into your business calendar
Business admin is like good housekeeping. It can seem like a chore, but once it’s done you feel so much the better for it. And, just like housekeeping, there are some things you need to do daily, and some things that only need looking at once a year. Question is, how do you keep track of what needs doing when?
To help you keep your business books spick and span, we’ve created this handy checklist for daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual tasks.
First, why bother?
As a small business owner, you likely wear many hats. You’re adept at sales and marketing, you’re great at hiring (and probably loathe firing), and you’re an expert in whatever field your business lies. Accounting is another of your hats – you need a clear picture of the financial health of your business in order to keep it on track.
Your financials provide reliable insights about the performance of your business – from who your most regular customers are, to your most costly suppliers. Using these insights, you can more strategically target marketing to the right people, or reassess key partners in your supply chain. It’s all about using your financial data to help grow the business.
And, of course, accounting is a mandatory part of running a business. To satisfy the strict requirements of the tax department, you need proof of business transactions, profits and losses. To ensure you always have these records at hand, a systematic and methodical accounting system is required.
Small business accounting checklist
- Check your bank position. A regular review of the balance shows you exactly where you stand, and also helps you to spot any fraudulent or out-of-the-ordinary transactions.
- Record incoming and outgoing payments. Do this daily while the records are fresh in your mind.
- Pay your employees. Staying on top of payroll seems like a no-brainer, but some small businesses can fall into the trap of not keeping it up-to-date. Using payroll software, which is often in-built in accounting software, can automate most of this process – you’ll just need to check for accuracy.
- Send out invoices. Do this weekly to keep the cash coming in. Some small businesses offer incentives for early payment and to maintain a strong cash flow.
- Review your cash flow. You should check your net cash position at the end of each week so you know what you need to do for the week ahead. Set aside funds to pay vendors, if needed; review unpaid bills; track your expected payments for the week ahead.
- Balance the books. While doing this, compare your month-end balance sheet with the same month of the previous year to track the growth of your business. If there are big differences, think about what you’ve changed and make adjustments if needed.
- Follow up with debtors. Don’t be afraid to chase late payers – send a friendly reminder as soon as money is owed beyond the initial term. If bad debts are rolling over month by month, read this article on small business tips to write off bad debts.
- Pay bills. Set aside a few hours per month to check all supplier invoices for accuracy. Maintain a solid relationship with your suppliers by always paying your bills on time.
- Track your inventory. If yours is a retail or manufacturing business, then you need a clear picture of stock levels, all of the time. The right inventory software will help to automate this process and alert you when stock is running low, items are nearing used-by dates or stock levels don’t match up to your sales forecasts.
- Reconcile with the bank. Make sure your bank balance matches up with your accounting package.
- Pay your quarterly tax and BAS. Pay your taxes by the due date to avoid late fees or a bad credit history.
- Profit and loss analysis. Every three months, look at your P&L to see how much cash is coming into the business versus the money going out. Dig a little deeper than just the numbers on the screen to identify what is causing any unexpected changes, and where possible take corrective actions.
- Review your small business accounting software. Is it easy to use? Does it provide you with all the tools and functionality your business needs? Does it need updating?
- Review inventory. If you have unsold, obsolete or damaged inventory at year’s end, you may be able to write it off.
- Prepare your year-end financial statements. If you’ve done everything else during the year, this task becomes so much easier! Having completed your daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly tasks, you should have all of your financial records ready for your accountant – all you’ll need to do is check that everything is there.
- Reflect on the year that was. Take a look at your financial records and see if there are any areas where you can save in the year ahead. Was there a particular customer, or set of customers, that brought in more income? Were there any glaring expenses that you could cut in the year ahead? Where did you do well?
Remember, it’s not one-size-fits-all
The accounting needs of a small grocery store will be very different to those of a self-employed graphic designer. Every industry has its own requirements, and it is important that you speak to your accountant about any specific tasks that the tax department expects from businesses like yours.
Then, it’s simply a matter of building the tasks into your daily operations. Block out time in your calendar each day, week, month and quarter and make sure you keep that time free for these jobs. By getting on the front foot with your accounting requirements, you’re giving your business a much better chance of growing into the future.