Top 10 Accounting Best Practices Every Small Business Should Follow

Essential Accounting Best Practices for Business Success in 2023

Financial stability and efficiency are crucial for success in today’s fast-paced business world. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by implementing essential accounting best practices. These practices can help your business maintain financial health, make informed decisions, and avoid costly errors. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the importance of choosing the right accounting method, implementing effective internal controls, harnessing the power of accounting software, and more. Get ready to take your business to new heights by mastering these accounting best practices!

Short Summary

  • Choose the right accounting method for your business.
  • Implement effective internal controls and harness the power of accounting software.
  • Prioritize accurate record keeping, separate personal and business finances, invest in professional support, develop a financial plan, monitor key metrics & ensure tax compliance to safeguard financial data.

10 Accounting Best Practices Every Small Business Should Follow

Choosing the Right Accounting Method for Your Business

Deciding which accounting method - cash or accrual basis - to use is a crucial accounting best practice

Selecting the right accounting method is a critical first step for any business owner. The appropriate method provides an accurate picture of your company’s financial health and enables you to make informed decisions based on reliable financial data. There are two main accounting methods to choose from: cash basis accounting and accrual accounting.

Cash basis accounting records revenue when cash is received and expenses when they are paid, making it a simpler method for tracking cash flow. On the other hand, accrual accounting records transactions when they are incurred, giving you a more accurate representation of your company’s financial position. Most businesses prefer to use accrual accounting because it provides greater visibility into accounts receivable and accounts payable, allowing for better financial planning and reporting.

When choosing the accounting method for your business, it is essential to consider several factors, such as the size of your business, the complexity of your financial transactions, and regulatory requirements. A small business owner may find cash basis accounting more manageable, while a larger company may prefer the accrual method for its comprehensive financial reporting capabilities.

Ultimately, selecting the right accounting method will set the foundation for effective accounting practices and contribute to your business’s success.

Implementing Effective Internal Controls

Implementing strong internal controls is vital for reducing the risk of financial fraud and errors within your business. One of the most effective internal control measures is dual control, which requires two individuals to be involved in payment processes, such as authorizing transactions and signing checks. This practice helps minimize the likelihood of unauthorized transactions and ensures proper oversight of financial activities.

Another essential internal control measure is the separation of tasks. For example, the individual responsible for opening mail and logging check receipts should differ from the one handling accounting duties. This separation of duties can help prevent manipulation of financial records and reduce the risk of fraud. Regular bank account reconciliations and reviews of financial reports are also crucial for ensuring the accuracy of financial data and addressing discrepancies in a timely manner.

To further safeguard your business from potential fraud, consider implementing additional measures, such as outsourcing accounting oversight, establishing clear time off and vacation policies, and monitoring fraud alerts. By investing in effective internal controls, you can protect your business from financial losses and maintain the integrity of your financial reporting.

As a small business owner who wears all the hats in your business, the best internal controls you can implement are:

  • Outsourcing your day-to-day bookkeeping tasks to an experienced bookkeeper
  • Reviewing your financial reports and statements on a monthly basis
  • Consulting with an accountant as needed

Harnessing the Power of Accounting Software

Using accounting software to track accounts receivable and accounts payable is another accounting best practice for small businesses

In the digital age, harnessing the power of accounting software can significantly improve the efficiency and accuracy of your financial processes. Automated software, such as QuickBooks or Xero, can save your business time and money by reducing errors, tracking cash flow, and integrating with other business functions. Additionally, accounting software can automate time-consuming tasks, such as invoicing and payroll, allowing you to focus on more strategic aspects of your business.

When selecting accounting software, it is crucial to consider its capacity to adapt as your business grows and your back-office requirements become more extensive. The right software should provide scalability, allowing you to add new features and functionalities as needed. Investing in a flexible solution will save you from potential headaches down the line and ensure the continued success of your growing company.

To maximize the benefits of accounting software, investing time in preliminary planning and research is essential. Hasty software decisions without sufficient planning and research usually result in higher costs and inefficiencies. By carefully evaluating your options and selecting the right software tailored to your business needs, you can streamline your accounting processes and maintain a healthy financial position.

Prioritizing Accurate and Timely Record-Keeping

Diligent record-keeping is fundamental to every business’s financial stability and success. Accurate and timely financial records ensure compliance with IRS regulations and help you stay prepared for audits and make informed business decisions. Utilizing cloud-based accounting software can greatly assist in maintaining up-to-date records, while hardcopy backups provide an additional layer of security.

One of the most crucial aspects of record-keeping is the month-end close. This formal review is a process that thoroughly examines each line item on your balance sheet and income statement, makes any necessary adjustments, and finalizes the reviewed month in your accounting software. Neglecting to execute a proper month-end close can lead to many financial issues, potentially crippling or even sinking your business.

Stay vigilant in your record-keeping efforts by entering transactions in a timely manner, regularly reconciling bank statements, maintaining backups of financial records, and reviewing financial reports for accuracy. By prioritizing precise and prompt record-keeping, you can ensure the financial health of your business and make well-informed decisions based on reliable data.

If you find it difficult to keep up with your bookkeeping tasks, Accounting Meister can help! We offer outsourced and catch-up bookkeeping services tailored to the needs of small businesses and start-ups.

Separating Personal and Business Finances

One of the most critical accounting best practices is the separation of personal and business finances. Mixing personal and business finances can lead to inaccurate financial records, cash flow issues, tax filing, and auditing difficulties, and even jeopardize the limited liability protection afforded by your business structure.

To effectively separate personal and business finances, it is essential to open a distinct bank account for your business, use a separate credit card for business expenses, and maintain accurate records of all business transactions. By keeping personal and business funds separate, you can avoid potential issues related to tax compliance, financial security, and accurate accounting.

Maintaining this separation requires diligence and discipline. Be sure to consistently track all business transactions, refrain from using personal funds for business expenses, and regularly consult with your accountant or financial advisor to ensure you are following best practices. By doing so, you can protect your personal assets and maintain the financial integrity of your business.

Small business owners whose revenue and expenses vary widely from month to month can find it particularly difficult to maintain the separation of personal and business finances.

Investing in Professional Accounting Support

Working with an outsourced accountant or bookkeeper is a cost-effective accounting best practice for small businesses

As your business grows and its financial complexity increases, it may become necessary to invest in professional accounting support. Outsourcing your accounting needs to a professional accountant can provide numerous benefits, including expert guidance, time-saving efficiency, improved bookkeeping accuracy, and assistance with tax deductions. Additionally, professional accounting support can help reduce the risk of costly errors and the burden of rectifying them.

Working with an outsourced accountant or accounting team can provide valuable insight into your company’s financial health and help you make more informed decisions. Establishing regular communication with your accounting professional, such as a bookkeeping consultant, can ensure you are prepared for tax season and help you avoid significant financial issues throughout the year.

When considering outsourcing your accounting needs, it is essential to weigh the costs and benefits and choose a professional who understands your industry and business goals. By investing in professional accounting support, you can focus on growing your business while ensuring your financial records remain accurate and up to date.

Even small businesses and start-ups can take advantage of professional accounting support by strategically investing in periodic consultations with a certified accountant and having their taxes prepared by an experienced tax professional.

Developing a Comprehensive Financial Plan

Clear financial planning is key to a successful business, as it enables you to make sound decisions, reduce losses, and ensure growth. Financial scenario planning and strategic budgeting are preferred methods for preparing for any financial situation. Financial scenario planning involves considering various potential financial outcomes, allowing you to make informed decisions and provide investors with a comprehensive view of returns and risks.

Strategic budgeting, on the other hand, helps you determine if your business’s financials align with expectations. By regularly analyzing your financial data and comparing it against your budget, you can identify areas for improvement, optimize resource allocation, and ensure the financial stability of your business.

Investing in financial analysis and planning is a worthwhile expenditure, as it can help you identify potential issues before they become significant problems and provide the necessary insight to make informed decisions. By developing a comprehensive financial plan, you can set your business on the path to success and ensure its financial health in the long run.

While this may sound like a daunting task, Accounting Meister makes it easy to develop a strategic budget for your small business or start-up and create a financial plan that will set your business on the path to success.

Monitoring Key Financial Metrics

Tracking your financial performance each month is another accounting best practice

Evaluating your financial data monthly is crucial to understanding the drivers of your business and ensuring profitability. Monitoring key financial metrics allows you to track your financial performance, make informed decisions based on accurate data, and assess the financial health of your company.

By consistently analyzing your financial reports and keeping a close eye on key metrics, you can identify trends and patterns, make necessary adjustments, and ensure the continued success of your business. Remember, accurate financial data is the foundation upon which you can build a thriving and profitable enterprise.

Ensuring Tax Compliance and Planning

Staying organized and in touch with your tax accountant is crucial to reducing your tax burden and avoiding costly penalties. Tax compliance and planning involve optimizing your tax liability, minimizing errors, taking advantage of deductions and credits, and meeting tax reporting requirements and deadlines.

Working with a tax consultant can help structure your business transactions for maximum tax efficiency and prepare your income tax returns. Additionally, planning for taxes throughout the year can help lessen your overall tax responsibility and prevent costly fines.

By ensuring tax compliance and planning, you can safeguard your business’s financial stability and focus on growing your enterprise with confidence.

Safeguarding Financial Data

In an increasingly digital world, safeguarding your financial data is more important than ever. Employing secure technology, such as encryption, two-factor authentication, and firewalls, can help protect your financial data from unauthorized access and breaches. Robust password protection is also essential for maintaining the security of your financial information. Be sure to use unique passwords for each account and update them regularly to minimize the risk of unauthorized access.

Regularly backing up your financial records can also help protect your business from system failures or data breaches. By prioritizing the security of your financial data, you can ensure the continued success and stability of your business in an increasingly interconnected world.

Summary

In conclusion, implementing essential accounting best practices is crucial for the financial stability and success of your business. By choosing the right accounting method, implementing effective internal controls, harnessing the power of accounting software, and more, you can lay the foundation for a thriving enterprise.

Accounting Meister can help you implement accounting best practices in your business. Getting started is easy! Schedule an initial consultation to learn more.

Take the first step towards a more financially secure and successful business by mastering these accounting best practices. Your future self and your bottom line will thank you for it!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 4 practices of accounting?

The four practices of accounting include corporate, public, government, and forensic accounting. These fields all have their own unique set of responsibilities, but the main goal is always to keep accurate financial records and provide reliable financial information for decision-making.

What is good accounting practice?

Good Accounting Practice encompasses compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, adhering to the principle of professional integrity, and using clear financial information to ensure that your business is making sound decisions.

Ensuring your business follows good accounting practices is essential for success. It helps to ensure that your financial information is accurate and up-to-date, and that you are making sound decisions based on reliable data. Additionally, it helps to protect your business from potential threats.

What are the 5 main things in accounting?

The five major accounting elements are assets, liabilities, equity, revenue and expenses. These five components form the basis of any set of accounts and are necessary in order to understand and assess the financial performance of a business.

What are the 3 important activities of accounting?

Accounting is a vital component of any business, and it involves three important activities: recording, classifying, and reporting financial information. Through these activities, businesses are able to measure their economic performance, inform decision-making, and prepare essential documents for taxation purposes.

Ultimately, accounting helps organizations manage their finances responsibly and make informed decisions.

What is accounting practice?

Accounting practice refers to the established methods, procedures and guidelines that accountants and bookkeepers adhere to in order to record, analyze and report financial transactions accurately. It is essential that a company’s financial statements are up-to-date and accurate, so proper accounting practices must be followed at all times.

Avatar for Scott Meister, CPA

Scott Meister, CPA

I help small businesses, accountants, bookkeepers, office managers, and business owners with their accounting needs. I’ve used QuickBooks since 2002 and train folks on how to use it efficiently. I create high-quality video training tutorials for QuickBooks and post them on scottmeister.teachable.com. Certifications include: Certified Public Accountant (CPA) | Certified Bookkeeper (CB) | Advanced Certified ProAdvisor for QuickBooks Desktop | Advanced Certified ProAdvisor for QuickBooks Online | Certified ProAdvisor for QuickBooks Enterprise | Certified ProAdvisor for QuickBooks Point Of Sale