Keeping Track Of Small Business Financial Transactions
As a small business owner, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of financial information that you must track and store. The trail to every successful small business is littered with hundreds, if not thousands, or maybe even millions of transactions. Depending on your type of business, these transactions might be in paper or electronic form or both.
Business transactions records are evidence that your business is operating smoothly and efficiently and also prove you are in compliance with rules and regulations. They show that you are adhering to tax regulations, payroll requirements, and complying with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) standards in your workplace. With a little planning and proper organization, you can easily manage all of your business financial transactions. Here we take a look at three main types of business financial transactions that you must be aware of and keep records for:
Daily Business Transactions
As a small business owner, you need to keep your eye on numerous aspects of your business. You want to be sure that you maintain control of source documents that are related to customer sales and payments as well as documents related to vendor and supplier purchases, items received, and cheques disbursed. You will also want to provide confidential storage for employee time cards and payroll cheques. These source documents are evidence of completed transactions:
When you might need access: To resolve a dispute or inquiry related to a customer payment, a vendor charge, or an employee's earnings or benefits.
When others might need access: Source transactions provide proof of the totals reflected on your financial statements. Provincial or federal tax authorities may request access to customer invoices if they are validating your revenue figures, or if they are verifying sales taxes paid. A sales tax auditor might review your vendor invoices to determine if you have underreported your tax liability. Officials enforcing Canadian standards of labour and employment may review your time cards or time sheets to investigate your handling of overtime pay and mandated breaks for hourly employees.
Month End Business Transactions
At the end of each month, it's time to review the results of all those transactions that have occurred between you and your customers, suppliers, and employees. You're ready to run your month end reports. These reports reflect your monthly results:
When you might need access: When you are forecasting your cash flow needs, evaluating your sales or marketing efforts, or projecting your inventory requirements.
When others might need access: Provincial or federal tax authorities might ask to review your monthly results when they are auditing monthly sales tax returns. They might also review monthly reports when they are looking for discrepancies, or for information to support annual totals reflected on federal or provincial income tax returns. Your banker may wish to review monthly results as collateral support for any loans that are in effect.
Year End Financial Transactions
At the end of the year, you are ready to review the cumulative results for the months you have been in business. At this point, in addition to the monthly reports listed above, you will want to generate your annual financial statements. These reports reflect your annual results:
When you might need access: When you are evaluating the success of your operations, examining your expenses, or reviewing your equity position.
When others might need access: Federal or provincial tax authorities will review your annual financial statements in the event of an audit. Bankers will review annual financial statements if you are applying or extending a loan, and any potential partners or investors will be interested in these reports.
Keep it Simple - Look to an Accounting Software Solution
You may (and likely should) want to spend more time focusing on your business, not your accounting. Keep the recording of financial transactions simple by using an accounting software solution to manage your cash flow, cost containment, invoicing and billing.
Consider your budget, and read plenty of reviews from independent websites and magazines. Donít just think about the current size and requirements of your business. You need a solution that can grow as your business grows, so look for software that offers a multitude of options to handle the business you will have several years from now.
And look at the language options available - will you need to create invoices in French for instance? Will you need to switch between English and French on-the-fly? Once you've identified the features you need for your business, check out the different software providers. Don't focus solely on the software package - consider the company, options for local support, and availability of trained resources.
Content adapted from: Geni Whitehouse, CPA.CITP, CSPM is the Founder of Even a Nerd Can Be Heard, an organization focused on communication skills for smart people. With past roles ranging from partner in a CPA firm to leader of a technology practice, she has a range of small business experience to draw on.
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