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  • Rebecca Tabert

When Should I Start Bookkeeping for My Business?

Do you think you might need to start bookkeeping for your business? Bookkeeping is a crucial part all businesses, but it doesn't need to be overwhelming. Read more for the basics on how to get started, why, and when.


Effective bookkeeping is essential for any business, serving as a key component in financial management and decision-making. It involves the systematic recording and organizing of financial transactions, providing a clear picture of the business's financial health. This guide focuses on the importance of bookkeeping, outlining its role in ensuring accuracy in financial reports, aiding compliance with legal requirements, and facilitating informed business decisions. From understanding basic principles to implementing practical steps, this article aims to equip business owners with the necessary knowledge to manage their finances effectively and efficiently.


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Why do you have to start bookkeeping at all?

Bookkeeping is not just a routine task; it's a fundamental aspect of any business that grows in importance with the business itself. Here's why bookkeeping is crucial:


  1. Legal Requirements: Depending on your business's size, measured by assets or gross revenue, bookkeeping might not be just beneficial but legally mandatory. Various laws and regulations require businesses to maintain accurate financial records. This becomes increasingly significant as your business expands.

  2. Loan Applications: When applying for loans, banks and other financial institutions often require detailed financial records. Bookkeeping provides these necessary financial statements, such as balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements. Without these, securing a loan can be challenging.

  3. Professional Verification: In many cases, especially when dealing with large sums or complying with specific regulations, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or a professional accountant's sign-off on your books might be required. This verification ensures that your financial records are accurate and trustworthy, meeting the standards set by governments or private entities.

  4. Financial Stability and Profitability: Bookkeeping is the primary tool for assessing a business's financial health. It helps in understanding how profitable your business is and in making informed decisions. By regularly updating your books, you can track your revenue, expenses, and profitability trends.

  5. Tax Preparation and Compliance: Accurate bookkeeping simplifies the process of tax filing and ensures compliance with tax laws. It helps in accurately reporting income and claiming deductions, thereby potentially reducing tax liabilities.

  6. Business Planning and Budgeting: With a clear view of your financial history, bookkeeping aids in effective business planning and budgeting. It helps in forecasting future revenues, planning for expenses, and setting financial goals.

  7. Investor Relations and Reporting: If your business seeks investment, investors will invariably want to review your financial records. Bookkeeping provides a clear, organized, and professional way to present this information.

  8. Risk Management: By maintaining accurate books, you can identify and address financial discrepancies, potential fraud, or mismanagement early, reducing the risk to your business.


In summary, bookkeeping is not just about keeping a record of financial transactions; it's about ensuring the accuracy, legal compliance, and financial stability of your business, which are essential for its growth and success.


What is bookkeeping and how difficult is it?

At its core, bookkeeping involves the recording of income and expenses. This continuous process forms the basis of your business's financial records.


For small businesses, bookkeeping might be relatively straightforward, involving simple record-keeping of daily transactions. However, as a business grows, the complexity of bookkeeping increases, requiring more detailed and sophisticated methods.


Types of Bookkeeping Tasks:

  • Reconciling Bank Accounts and Credit Cards: This involves matching the transactions in your accounting records to those in your bank and credit card statements.

  • Recording Payroll: Bookkeeping includes recording payroll transactions, which is distinct from processing payroll. Payroll accounting involves not just paying employees but also recording those transactions accurately.

  • Applying Accounting Principles: Principles like depreciation and amortization are integral to bookkeeping. They involve spreading the cost of an asset over its useful life.

  • Journal and Adjusting Entries: Bookkeeping includes making journal entries for all transactions and adjusting entries for accruals, deferrals, and other adjustments.

  • Financial Statements: Preparing key financial statements like income statements (or profit and loss statements) and balance sheets is a crucial part of bookkeeping.

Methods of Bookkeeping:

  1. In-House Bookkeeping: Smaller businesses often handle bookkeeping internally, either by the business owner or by designated staff members.

  2. Professional Accountants: For more extensive or complex operations, hiring a professional accountant or bookkeeper is common. These professionals ensure accuracy and compliance with accounting standards and tax laws.

Difficulty Level:

  1. For small businesses with simple transactions, bookkeeping can be relatively easy and manageable in-house.

  2. As transactions become more complex and voluminous, bookkeeping becomes more challenging, often necessitating specialized skills or software.

The introduction of assets, loans, investments, and varied revenue streams adds layers of complexity to bookkeeping.


Software and Tools:

There are various bookkeeping software and tools available, ranging from basic spreadsheet applications to advanced accounting software. The choice depends on the complexity of your business and the volume of transactions.


**However, it is important to understand that no accountants software or tool is yet capable of running accurate books without human assistance. This includes Inuit Quickbooks, Odoo, and others. Either you or an accountant professional must have a good understanding of accounting principles and rules in order to prepare the financials to be compliant with the laws.


What are the steps to starting bookkeeping?

Starting bookkeeping for your business involves a series of structured steps to ensure accuracy and compliance. Here's a detailed guide:

  1. Identify What to Record:

    1. Financial Statements: Gather all financial statements, including business bank accounts and credit card statements.

    2. Payroll Reports: Download monthly payroll reports.

    3. Cash Receipts: Collect and clearly annotate cash receipts, specifying the nature of each expense.

    4. Large Purchases: Keep receipts for purchases over $2,500 to determine if they require depreciation.

    5. Miscellaneous Transactions: Include any other relevant transactions that reflect your business activities.

  2. Choose Your Bookkeeping Software:

    1. Research: Investigate different software options based on your business needs.

    2. Consultation: Seek advice from a professional if your business has complex accounting needs.

    3. Options: For basic needs, tools like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel might suffice. More complex operations may require software like Quicken, QuickBooks, Odoo, or Zoho.

  3. Understand Accounting Principles:

    1. Compliance: Familiarize yourself with essential accounting principles to ensure legal compliance.

    2. Professional Review: If unsure, have a tax professional review your financials to confirm they meet legal standards.

  4. Data Entry:

    1. Input Data: Enter all necessary financial data into your chosen bookkeeping software.

  5. Reconcile Data:

    1. Match Records: Ensure that all data in the software matches third-party statements, including bank accounts, credit cards, and payroll reports.

  6. Produce Financial Statements:

    1. Income Statements: Prepare statements that show your business’s profitability over a specific period.

    2. Balance Sheets: Create balance sheets to provide a snapshot of your business’s financial condition at a particular point in time.

    3. General Ledgers: Maintain a general ledger as the primary accounting record of your business.

  7. Continuous Monitoring and Updating:

    1. Regularly update your bookkeeping records to reflect new transactions and changes in your business.

  8. Year-End Review:

    1. Conduct a comprehensive review at the end of each fiscal year to prepare for tax filing and to assess the financial health of your business.


By following these steps, you can establish a solid bookkeeping foundation, ensuring that your business's financial records are accurate, up-to-date, and compliant with legal requirements. This will not only aid in tax preparation but also provide valuable insights for business decision-making and potential financial audits.



Who does the bookkeeping for a business?

Determining who should handle the bookkeeping for your business depends on several factors, including the complexity of your financial transactions and your own expertise in accounting principles. Here are the key considerations:


Self-Managed Bookkeeping:

  • Suitable for businesses with simpler financial activities.

  • Requires a basic understanding of accounting principles, such as recording transactions, reconciling accounts, and preparing financial statements.

  • Ideal if you have the time and inclination to manage your own finances.


In-House Bookkeeping Staff:

  • Appropriate for businesses with a moderate level of financial transactions.

  • Involves hiring staff with a solid understanding of accounting, including payables/receivables, accruals/deferrals, and depreciation.

  • Offers more control and direct oversight of your financial data.


**Payroll is a sensitive area with high potential for fraud and errors. It's advisable to have payroll managed by yourself or a professional accountant rather than delegating to general staff. Ensuring confidentiality and accuracy in payroll processing is crucial.


Hiring a Professional Accountant or Bookkeeper:

  • Recommended for businesses with complex financial activities or for those lacking in-house accounting expertise.

  • Ensures accuracy, compliance with regulations, and professional management of financial records.

  • Accountants can provide additional services like tax advice, financial planning, and audit support.


When to Start Bookkeeping in Your Business

Deciding the right time to start bookkeeping is simple yet crucial. Here's a straightforward guide:

  • Begin at the Start:

    1. Start bookkeeping as soon as your business operations begin.

    2. Record all transactions from day one for a clear financial track.

  • For Small Businesses:

    • If resources are limited, begin with basic record-keeping.

    • Enhance your bookkeeping methods as your business grows.

  • Signs to Scale Up:

    • When your profit exceeds $10,000, or you have assets worth $10,000 or more, it's time to get serious about bookkeeping.

    • Ensure bank accounts, credit cards, and payroll are accurately recorded.

  • Stay Compliant:

    • Proper bookkeeping helps in adhering to tax laws and regulations.

    • It’s crucial for audit readiness.

  • Seek Funding:

    • If you're planning to seek investments or loans, detailed financial records are necessary.

  • Get Professional Advice:

    • Consulting a financial expert can set you on the right path from the beginning.


In essence, start bookkeeping when your business starts, and adjust the depth of your bookkeeping as your business evolves. This ensures financial clarity and compliance from the get-go.


Deciding When to Change Your Bookkeeper

If you're contemplating a change in your bookkeeping services, it's important to first identify the reasons prompting this shift. Common triggers include frequent errors in your financial records or your business outgrowing the current bookkeeper's capabilities. When these signs become evident, it's time to start exploring alternatives. Begin by engaging with potential new professionals early on, allowing ample time to discuss and coordinate a seamless transition.


Comfort and trust in your relationship to your accountant are essential, as your new bookkeeper will play a pivotal role in managing your financial affairs. It’s advisable to avoid rushing into a new arrangement. Take your time to ensure that the new professional understands your business needs and can offer the level of service you require. When it comes to timing the switch, aim for a quieter period in your business cycle. This strategy helps in minimizing disruptions to your operations, especially if the transition occurs outside of peak financial periods like tax season.


In terms of logistics, a smooth handover is vital. Ensure that all your financial data is thoroughly and accurately transferred to your new bookkeeper. Verifying their qualifications and experiences, perhaps through references or reviews, adds an extra layer of security to your decision. Finally, set clear expectations right from the start, particularly regarding communication styles and reporting needs. This upfront clarity will pave the way for a more effective and harmonious working relationship with your new bookkeeper.



Most common myths starting bookkeeping for businesses

Myth: Bookkeeping is only for large businesses.

Reality: Bookkeeping is essential for businesses of all sizes. Even small businesses need accurate financial records for tax purposes and informed decision-making. Neglecting bookkeeping in the early stages can lead to significant challenges as the business grows.


Myth: Bookkeeping can be done effectively without any formal system or software.

Reality: While informal methods might seem sufficient initially, they often lead to errors and inefficiencies. Formal bookkeeping systems or software provide structure, accuracy, and ease in managing financial data. They also ensure compliance with accounting standards and tax laws.


Myth: I can handle all the bookkeeping myself, regardless of my accounting knowledge.

Reality: Bookkeeping requires a basic understanding of accounting principles. Without this knowledge, you risk making mistakes that could have serious financial implications. It's often beneficial to seek professional advice or training, especially as the business grows.


Myth: Automated bookkeeping software eliminates the need for a human bookkeeper.

Reality: While software can streamline many bookkeeping tasks, it doesn't replace the need for human oversight. A professional bookkeeper can provide strategic financial advice, ensure compliance, and interpret data in ways software cannot.


Myth: Bookkeeping doesn't contribute to the strategic growth of a business.

Reality: Effective bookkeeping provides critical financial insights that are essential for strategic planning. It allows business owners to track growth, identify trends, and make informed decisions about the future of their business. Accurate bookkeeping is foundational to understanding and driving business success.


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Final Thoughts

While this guide provides a comprehensive overview, every business's situation is unique. For personalized advice and to ensure that your bookkeeping practices align with current laws and best practices, it's always wise to consult a tax professional. Their expertise can not only save you time and prevent costly mistakes but also offer strategic guidance tailored to your specific business needs. With their support, you can navigate the financial aspects of your business with confidence and focus on what you do best – growing your enterprise.


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Email Address: info@taxtl.com

Phone Number: (760) 480-1040

Address: 365 W 2nd Ave, Escondido, CA 92025


About Us

For over 35 years, we've been the go-to for tax, accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll services that keep businesses running smoothly and lower individuals' and businesses' tax burden. See for yourself how we've transformed numerous businesses across San Diego and throughout the United States.


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    • FBAR

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  • Payroll

  • Accounting and Bookkeeping

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