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Basics of Bookkeeping: A Beginner's Guide - Henderson Edition

2024.4.25

by:  Aleksandra Svetina

In today’s world of business, keeping your books in order is crucial for maintaining financial accuracy and leading the way for strategic growth. This article will introduce you to the basics of bookkeeping, offering a quick overview for all the readers to understand and apply these concepts effectively in their business. Whether you’re a skilled old time entrepreneur or a small, just starting business owner it is good to follow these guidelines.

What is Bookkeeping?

Let me explain shortly! By a simple definition bookkeeping is the process of recording all financial transactions made by a business. Including everything from purchases and sales to payments and receipts. The goal of bookkeeping is to provide a clear overview of the business, which will help in better decision-making tactics. Decision-making is an important part for the future of any company or business.

Aleksandra Svetina Bookkeeping expert

Why Is Bookkeeping Important?

First and foremost, bookkeeping keeps you organized. By maintaining detailed records, you can access financial information instantly and make senfull decisions. Additionally, accurate bookkeeping is helpful for tax purposes. It enables your business to comply with the law by providing necessary documentation to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or other tax authorities.

What are Basic Bookkeeping Terms?

To get started, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some basic terms:

1.  Assets:  Assets are Resources owned by the business having economic value.

2.  Liabilities:  In basic terms, liabilities are what the business owes to others.

3.  Equity:  Equity represents the value of the company after all liabilities have been deducted from the assets.

4.  Revenue:  Revenue is the total amount of money brought in from conducting business.

5.  Expenses:  Expenses are money spent during the operation of the business.

What is the Double-Entry System?

It is the basis of accounting and requires every financial transaction to be recorded in two accounts. One is called debit and the other one is credit. For example, when you make a sale, you would record revenue (credit) and increase assets (debit).  A double-entry system helps in maintaining the balance of the accounting equation reading as: Assets = Liabilities + Equity. System is a backbone of accounting and originates back to 1494 when it was presented by Luca Pacioli, also known as Father of the Accounting.

How To Set Up Your Books Properly?

Selecting the optimal system to set up your books is extremely important. Many small businesses start with spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, etc… However, with the growth of your business, you might consider accounting software. Here are some examples: QuickBooks, Xero, FreshBooks, Net Suite, etc… The accounting software automates many steps and operations in bookkeeping, reducing the possibility of errors and saving you a lot of time.

How To Record Transactions Correctly?

Accurate transaction recording is very important for bookkeeping. Here are some tips how to do it right:

1.  Collecting Source Documents:   Collect all the documents detailing your business transactions, such as receipts, invoices, and bank statements.

2.  Recording  Entries:  Use your bookkeeping system to record all the transactions. Be careful and consistent in how you enter data.

3.  Regular Updating:  Update your books regularly to avoid a backlog of unrecorded transactions which can lead to mistakes.

What is Reconciliation?

Consider it as double checking yourself. Reconciliation is the process of matching your bookkeeping records with bank statements and other financial accounts. It is typically done monthly to help identify and correct any errors you might have made and verifies the accuracy of your financial records.

What Are Financial Statements?

Producing financial statements is a very important part of bookkeeping practices. These documents provide insights to the financial situation of your business and include following documents:

1.  Balance Sheet:  Document showing the assets, liabilities, and equity of your business at a specific point in time.

2.  Income Statement:  Also known as a Profit and Loss Statement. It shows your revenues, expenses, and profits over a specific period of time.

3.  Cash Flow Statement:  Statement literally shows how much money (cash) is flowing in and out of your business.

Tips From The Author for Effective Bookkeeping

1.   Stay Organized:  Keep your financial documents in order and easily accessible to you.

2.  Be Consistent and Disciplined:  Make sure transactions are recorded consistently to make your financial data more reliable. 

3.  Understand Legal Requirements:  Be aware of the legal requirements for bookkeeping in your area, especially for tax purposes.

4.  Seek Professional Help:  If you find bookkeeping too complicated for you, consider hiring a professional bookkeeper or accountant. They can offer expertise and insights unfamiliar to non professionals.

Try following the tips mentioned above and you can thank me later. 

For those new to bookkeeping, the bookkeeping might seem frustrating at first.  Anyway, with great attention to the detail and a disciplined approach, you can set up bookkeeping practices supporting and increasing the value of your business or company. Keep in mind, strong bookkeeping helps maintain financial order and at the same time helps making strategic decisions bringing greater profitability and efficiency in your business development.

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