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What is Bookkeeping ?

If you’re running a business, it doesn’t matter whether you’re an independent contractor or a growing company, managing accounts payable is a key part of your everyday business administration. Accounts payable is the process of tracking money owed by your business to suppliers. As your business grows, so does the complexity of your accounts payable process.

The term bookkeeping means different things to different people:

  • Some people think that bookkeeping is the same as accounting. They assume that keeping a company’s books and preparing its financial statements and tax reports are all part of bookkeeping.
  • Others see bookkeeping as limited to recording transactions in journals or daybooks and then posting the amounts into accounts in ledgers. After the amounts are posted, the bookkeeping has ended and an accountant with a college degree takes over. The accountant will make adjusting entries and then prepare the financial statements and other reports.
  • At mid-size and larger corporations the term bookkeeping might be absent. Often corporations have accounting departments staffed with accounting clerks who process accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, etc. The accounting clerks will be supervised by one or more accountants.

Bookkeeping (and accounting) involves the recording of a company’s financial transactions. The transactions will have to be identified, approved, sorted and stored in a manner so they can be retrieved and presented in the company’s financial statements and other reports.

Some of a company’s financial transactions:

  • The purchase of supplies with cash.
  • The purchase of merchandise on credit.
  • The sale of merchandise on credit.
  • Rent for the business office.
  • Salaries and wages earned by employees.
  • Buying equipment for the office.
  • Borrowing money from a bank.

The transactions will be sorted into perhaps hundreds of accounts including Cash, Accounts Receivable, Loans Payable, Accounts Payable, Sales, Rent Expense, Salaries Expense, Wages Expense Dept 1, Wages Expense Dept 2, etc. The amounts in each of the accounts will be reported on the company’s financial statements in detail or in summary form.

Start a daily regimen of entering incoming bills. If you incur a business credit card expense, enter it on the same day. Employee expenses should also be entered. Don’t forget to keep and securely store paper copies of all your documents too.Make a habit of paying your bills on a weekly basis and establish a window of payment that aligns with your supplier’s terms. If their terms are 30 days, don’t wait the 30 days to pay them; mail out the check or make the direct deposit payment a few days in advance of the deadline. This way you’ll maintain good relations with your vendors.

It’s inevitable that there will be times when cash flow is tight and paying bills on time can be challenging, be proactive. Refer back to all your suppliers’ terms to see if their payment windows allow for any wiggle room. If you know you can’t cover a payment this month, call your supplier and be honest: tell them you’ll make a minimum payment this month, and X amount next month until it’s paid off. While it’s not an ideal situation, and you may have to pay interest, it demonstrates to the supplier that you are proactive and serious about making payments. If you have a strong record of past payments, remind them of that fact and do whatever you can to reassure them of your business viability.

If your accounting system is taking up too much of your time, then you may want to enlist an assistant to help with some basic bookkeeping, or hire or outsource to an accountant. As your business grows, you might even want to consider the services full time .

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