Why Bookkeeping Is Important for New Businesses

Why Bookkeeping is Important for New Businesses

Why Is Bookkeeping Important for New Businesses?

When starting a new business, it is easy to get consumed with the ‘exciting’ parts of the project: designing a product, coming up with sales strategies, marketing, hiring employees, etc. However, there are integral ‘behind the scenes’ parts of running a business that sometimes get overlooked when starting out. One of these is bookkeeping. Read on to see why bookkeeping is important for new businesses.

Bookkeeping may sound interesting to the math enthusiasts of the world (yes, they do exist!) but to everyone else, especially during the exciting early days of a startup, it may seem dull and get overlooked.

Unfortunately, if keeping track of your company’s financials isn’t prioritized, it can cause significant complications down the road. To position yourself to succeed, don’t let bookkeeping become something that you put off.

Accounting and Bookkeeping Help Businesses to Manage Their Cash Flows

Managing cash flows is hugely important for new businesses and proper bookkeeping practices can help you to prevent many cash flow problems before they start. By keeping track of all of your outstanding accounts receivable and accounts payable, for example, you can make sure that you will have sufficient cash to satisfy any upcoming obligations. If you anticipate more accounts payable (i.e. bills) than accounts receivable (i.e. revenue), then you had better make sure that you have sufficient cash and/or credit to satisfy your upcoming financial obligations or you may find yourself in trouble.

Similarly, by properly tracking and managing your accounts payable you can increase the probability that you will pay them on time. (Forgetting for the moment the larger problem described above.) This will help you to maintain good relationships with your vendors, keep your credit in good standing, and minimize your interest payments – all good things for a new business to do.

Then there is the classic business school problem of growing so fast that you run out of cash. How does that work? It’s really pretty simple. When you grow really fast you have a lot of orders, projects, contracts, etc. In order to satisfy them you must spend money. In order to satisfy a lot of them you must spend a lot of money.

Generally speaking, you have to spend the money to complete the work before you get paid for it, and if you are doing too many projects or making too many widgets you can run out of money before that happens. Imagine, for example, you receive 1,000 orders for razor blades you are making – far more than you ever dreamed you would receive. You start to make them and then run out of money after only 200. It’s possible you might be able to get a loan of some sort, but even so, that creates delays and costs money. Loans notwithstanding, this situation can lead to angry customers, angry vendors, new costs, and even the end of your business entirely.

Proper bookkeeping and accounting can help prevent this situation altogether by enabling a business to model out the costs associated with incoming orders and make sure that it has enough money to complete them. If not, than it may be time to slow down the growth.

Bookkeeping Enables New Businesses to Manage Their Cash Flow

Accounting and Bookkeeping Help Businesses to Keep Their Tax Bills Down

Taxes are hugely important for new businesses and if not properly managed they can greatly decrease your profits and even kill you off completely. (Just ask the countless new marijuana businesses that have learned this the hard way…) For one, you don’t want to miss out on any deductions that you can begin tracking now. If you don’t know about them until tax time you may not be able to go back and figure out how much to deduct. Mileage is a good example. If you can deduct mileage than be sure to keep track of every business mile from day one. (There are some great apps to help with this.)

Likewise, if you don’t keep good bookkeeping records from the beginning you will have a major headache come tax time. This will at the very least cost you a lot of time and may also cost you a lot of money. It takes a lot more work to figure out where you spent your money six months ago than it does to get it down when it happens. This means more effort trying to remember things on your part, more time and money spent by bookkeepers trying to get everything organized, and a greater chance there will be costly mistakes. As an added bonus, bookkeepers may charge you a hefty premium for taking up a great deal of their time during their busy season.

Another common problem is failing to make reasonable quarterly tax filings. Making such filings is a requirement for many businesses and doing them poorly, or not at all, can result in costly penalties and more money down the drain.

Financial Statements Help Businesses to Better Understand Their Operations

Another benefit of keeping your books in order: financial statements. The basic financial statements (income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows) are extremely useful tools for describing how a business is functioning. (There is a reason they are central parts of annual reports.) They tell you in detail how your business is doing, what kinds of problems may be on the horizon, and fuel strategic decision making. (If you want to learn more about financial statements check out our blog on the income statement here, and our blog on the balance sheet here.)

If you don’t maintain your books there is simply no way to create your financial statements. If the financial statements were a building, monthly bookkeeping activities would be the bricks.

Maintaining Your Books Fuels Strategic Decision Making

Running a new business involves making important decisions on a regular basis, and informed decisions tend to be far more successful than uninformed decisions. Keeping your books in order can provide you with key information that can be useful in this regard. Say, for example, two clients call up with desperate pleas for some last second service. Unfortunately, you only have time to help one. Which one do you choose? If you have kept your books in order you can see which client has provided you with more revenues, and this may be the deciding factor. There are a myriad of possible situations like this where well organized books can provide you with valuable insights.

Bookkeeping Enables New Businesses to Engage In Strategic Business Planning

So, if you are starting a new business heed our warning: keep your books in order from day one. If your business succeeds you will need to get them in order eventually, and you will be better off starting now. Or, if your business doesn’t succeed, not having good books may have been one of the central reasons why.

There you have it. Key reasons why bookkeeping is important for new businesses. Interested in learning more about bookkeeping and accounting? Take a look at My OC Bookkeeper’s great bookkeeping and accounting blog or their bookkeeping, accounting and business strategy YouTube channel. Interested in hiring an outside bookkeeper, accountant, or business consultant? My OC Bookkeeper is here for you. We help businesses all over the country to tackle problems big and small. Click the video below to learn more. Let’s do great things together!

What is Bookkeeping? Does My Business Need it? (Yes.)

A question mark on a piece of paper symbolic of the question: what is bookkeeping?

What is bookkeeping and why is it important?

Today we ask a very simple question: what is bookkeeping? On its most basic level, bookkeeping is the recording of day-to-day financial transactions. Whether for a business, nonprofit, government agency or individual, bookkeepers ensure that every financial activity related to a specific entity is documented in a consistent and accurate way. Some of these transactions include sales, purchases, payments, and expenses. This documentation is important because it helps business owners and accountants understand the financial well-being of a company.

What is the Difference Between Bookkeeping and Accounting?

Whereas accounting refers to comprehensive financial management and planning, bookkeeping is the specific task of recording and categorizing each transaction. While bookkeeping and accounting and are often referred to synonymously, bookkeeping is actually a subset of accounting. However, bookkeeping is more than simple financial data entry. It is a through storytelling of financial health, both at present and historically. By using the numbers you have recorded, you can analyze your current situation and compare how it looks over time.

What Can Bookkeeping Show A Small Business?

As bookkeepers know, if companies don’t record and understand their numbers, it is very difficult to grow them. The cycle of money coming in versus going out is known as cash flow. Keeping track of cash flow is one of the most important jobs of bookkeepers. Say for example you own a brewery and know only the total number of beers sold instead of how each type of beer is selling individually. Maybe you are making money, but you don’t know specifically where your money is coming from and therefore cannot grow your business. If you don’t know what your strengths and weaknesses are, you can’t strategically plan for continued success. In the case of a brewery, it’s important to note each individual beer that you pour in order to know which beers are selling better than others.

While this may seem obvious, often times businesses allow their books to fall months (or years) behind. This is dangerous because companies may be unable to see they are in financial trouble until it’s too late. Or, they may miss opportunities for expansion because they are unaware of their current strengths. Or, they may be unprepared come tax time. (More on this below.) Say you run out of your best-selling beer without realizing it’s your best seller. By the time you brew another batch your business may have lost out on revenue simply due to a lack of planning. Therefore, one of the major benefits of diligent bookkeeping is the ability to make better financial decisions and to plan for the future based on concrete numbers.

Basic Bookkeeping Categories

When you start to monitor each transaction individually, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of activity. This is another important function of bookkeepers: keeping everything organized. Bookkeepers use five top level categories to achieve this organization. This creates a universal language that all bookkeepers can read without requiring additional knowledge of the business.

The categories are: assets, liabilities, equity, income, and expenses. (There are also a large number of subcategories, but we will address those in a follow up post.) These categories are used to create three financial statements: the balance sheet, the statement of cash flows, and the income statement (also know as profit and loss statement). You need all three to understand the overall financial health of your company, and they all start with the diligent categorization work by your bookkeeper. (For more detailed information on bookkeeping categories see our Basic Bookkeeping Categories blog post. And if you still want to learn more, check out this blog post to learn some income statement basics and check out this blog post for an introduction to balance sheets.)

Bookkeeping and Taxes

Bookkeeping is essential for tax purposes. As we have already noted, bookkeepers organize a business’s transactions. This means having all of the pertinent information at one’s finger tips come tax time, and being confident that it is correct and supported by a digital paper trail. Otherwise you will find yourself in a mad scramble for financial data and be far more likely to make costly mistakes, or even get audited. Forgot to include a $2,000 expense back in July? Too bad, you’ll have a higher tax bill. Don’t know how much money you spent on your work automobile? Can’t write that off anymore. Accidentally double counted your expenses? Time to prey for forgiveness.

If you do happen to get audited having organized and up-to-date bookkeeping records will make your life far easier. Because IRS agents will be able to access all of your financial records easily, the audit will be quicker and therefore less painful than it would be if your numbers are not up-to-date. (Looking for more information on taxes? Check out the IRS website here. Or, take a look at all kinds of great websites for small businesses here.)

What is Bookkeeping – Summarized

So, what is bookkeeping? Bookkeeping is the systematic recording of each financial transaction that affects an entity. To organize all of this information bookkeepers use established categories that are combined to create financial statements. Bookkeeping is important because it allows you to track your company’s financial behavior showing you where you are making money and where you are spending it. It also paints a picture of the financial stability of a company, which allows for better planning and decision-making. And finally, bookkeeping is essential for taxes because it ensures that every transaction has been recorded appropriately.

Enjoy our post? Be sure to reach out to My OC Bookkeeper, Orange County’s best small business bookkeeper for your bookkeeping and tax needs. And check out Orange County, California’s best bookkeeping blog here. Last but not least, enjoy the video below to learn a bit more about the advantages of using an outside bookkeeper and the services that My OC Bookkeeper offers.