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Common Bookkeeping Mistakes

Pen and paperBefore getting into a discussion of common bookkeeping mistakes, it is worthwhile to address the importance of sound bookkeeping in general.

The importance of sound bookkeeping is frequently lost and ignored by management. It is apparent that the main reason management tends to ignore the bookkeeping function is because it is focused on the “big picture.” What management fails to recognize is that there is no “big picture” to look at without bookkeeping first doing its thing in the details.

Bookkeeping can help keep your business organized and able to yield a profit. Many small businesses fail due to poor financial management. By applying sound financial principles, you may be able to prevent this fate from befalling your business.

The following are some of the benefits that are generated by an accurate bookkeeping environment, as noted by QB Express:

1.   Improved financial analysis and management

Cash flow management is something that your business should start focusing on right away. Once your invoices are delayed, there will be zero follow-ups on customer payments. With accurate bookkeeping, you can systematize your follow-ups and invoicing, while making on-time payments to suppliers.

2.   Fulfil your tax obligations on time 

Bookkeeping can help you keep a track on all the information required to accomplish your tax obligations. When the time for tax comes, you will no longer need to rush everywhere to hunt for your bills or try to remember your expenses. An organized Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss and Cash Flow also makes filing your Tax Returns a lot easier. Your tax advisor can also finally give you some sound tax advice instead correcting incorrect entries in your financial statements.

3.   Enjoy easy reporting to your investors

With regular and accurate bookkeeping, you will no longer need to worry about reporting to your investors and sharing the financial status of your company. From graphs to charts and the lists of data, you can easily present everything to your investor right from your accounting books.

4.   Make informed business plans

With the Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss statements, you can check if your company is on the right track financially. Based on your financial status, you can make informed and effective business plans.

5.   Keep a proper record, as required by the Law 

With bookkeeping, you can keep a record of all your financial dealings and keep everything organized right from your big to small invoices.

Common Bookkeeping Mistakes

The foregoing section above focused on a discussion of the benefits that can flow out of a sound bookkeeping system. Such a system shouldn’t be taken for granted however. Frequently, bookkeeping mistakes can creep in and weaken the bookkeeping infrastructure as well as the systems in the organization that rely on the bookkeeping system.

The following is a list of common bookkeeping mistakes that bookkeepers and others should always be on the lookout for.

1.   Skipping an Accounting System

As Business2Community notes, your business may be so small that you decide to save money by not using software that is specifically designed for accounting.

However, even if you use spreadsheets and a well-organized file system to keep track of where your money goes, you are missing out. As Doug Boswell, an accounting expert, points out: “…before having your taxes done, the tax preparer needs to cobble together some sort of makeshift system that will allow your tax return to be prepared, but it almost surely won’t capture all your deductions.”

2.   Not Double Checking Everything

Another good point from Business2Community: adopt the habit of double-checking everything and be consistent about it. As their report notes, a mistyped number, a lost receipt, and other human errors can result in inconsistent figures. Prevent such problems from piling up by reconciling your records with your bank account statements every month. Keeping track of your businesses money will be easier if you try to use cash as little as possible. Credit and debit transactions will show up on your statements so you know where every penny goes.

3.   Jumbled Invoices

Some small businesses miss out on money because they have an inefficient system for filing invoices. Number your invoices and keep them in order so it is easier for you to find out which invoices have been paid and which still have outstanding balances.

4.   Not reconciling your accounts

As this analysis of sound bookkeeping observes, after the end of each month your bank, credit cards and even merchants like PayPal will release statements showing your beginning and ending balances as well as all of the transactions that occurred in that month. Take those statements and reconcile your accounts in your bookkeeping software. Not reconciling your accounts each month can lead to errors that copy over month after month.

5.   Not tracking Mileage

Remember: you can be reimbursed for the miles that you drive for your business. The IRS sets a mileage rate for businesses each year that covers your gas, maintenance to your car and general wear. Use an app like MileIQ that will track all of your drives and then you can categorize them as business or personal. At the end of every month they’ll send you a report showing how many business miles you drove and what that amounts to. You can take that amount and reimburse yourself from your business account while categorizing it as a business expense. Not doing this prohibits you from claiming this eligible deduction on your taxes.

In addition to the previously noted mistakes, the following links point to additional common bookkeeping mistakes.

In conclusion, it’s fair to say that the fewer bookkeeping mistakes there are in your organization the smoother your organization will operate. It is human nature to seek short cuts and avoid pain points, but this is a crucial area where you can’t afford that approach: you must take the long way and endure the strain of the process, otherwise much bigger pain points could arise down the road.

Do you have the support you need to manage your small business bookkeeping? Contact us to schedule an appointment to speak with a local small business advisor.