Bookkeeping vs Accounting: What Are the Key Differences?

A payroll system that integrates with your accounting system makes issuing paychecks and handling payroll taxes much easier. A corporation is a company or group of people legally allowed to act as a single entity. Some of the benefits of forming a corporation include lower corporate tax rates, added legal protections, and the ability to attract outside investors. Because corporations are expensive and complex, many small business owners shy away from this option. Without a firm grasp of bookkeeping basics, it can be easy to confuse the terms bookkeeping and accounting and use them interchangeably.

The best accounting software automates a lot of the process in journal entries for regular debits and credits to help eliminate possible errors in data entry. Accountants rely on bookkeeping records to analyze and advise on the financial activity, health, and growth potential of a business. Using the accrual accounting method, you record income when you bill your customers. Bookkeeping Basics: A How-To Guide for Small Business Owners This is in the form of accounts receivable (even if they don’t pay you for a few months). The same goes for expenses, which you record when you’re billed in the form of accounts payable. Generally accepted accounting principles require larger companies to use accrual accounting, but most small business owners use the cash accounting method because it’s easier.


Outsourcing your bookkeeping is another option, and this guide on how to find the best virtual bookkeeping service can help you get the process started. There are a few things you need to do in order to get started bookkeeping for your business. Debits are recorded on the left side of an accounting ledger, while credits are recorded on the right side of the ledger. If you’re using double-entry accounting, which is recommended, you will have a corresponding credit entry for any debit entry you make, and vice versa. Now, the last and final step for you as a business owner is to MAKE DECISIONS.

But regardless of the type or size of business you own, the accounts we list below are the most popular. Generally speaking, accrual accounting is better for larger, more established businesses. It gives you a more realistic idea of your business’ income and provides a long-term view of the business that cash accounting can’t provide.

How Can My Business Receive Payments?

Having a separate bank account for saving for tax payments or other long-term business goals makes it easy to see how much cash you have available to spend. It’s ideal for enterprises with accrued business expenses—or expenditures entered into the bookkeeping system on the purchase date rather than the payment date. After you have a bookkeeping system in mind, the next step is to pick an accounting software. There’s a variety of spreadsheet software you can use, such as Microsoft Excel, that can be used for simple bookkeeping. This type of account is designed for everyday use and allows businesses to make unlimited deposits and withdrawals. Typically, checking accounts also come with a debit card for easy access to funds.

Bookkeepers record and classify financial transactions, such as sales and expenses. They maintain accurate records of daily financial activities and manage accounts payable and accounts receivable. Bookkeeping is the process of tracking income and expenses in your business. It lets you know how you’re doing with cash flow and how your business is doing overall.

Income Statement and Bookkeeping: Revenue, Expenses, and Costs

She recommends setting a bookkeeping schedule and updating your books consistently. If you’re consistent, you’ll always have a complete financial picture to make smart, data-driven business decisions. For some business owners, bookkeeping and financial record keeping are necessary evils to complete at tax time. But Bingham suggests you should be in your books much more frequently. Profit Monitoring – Bookkeeping allows small business owners to monitor their profit over time and create improvement plans. The availability of bookkeeping software which includes graphs and other visual aids enable data precision for proper monitoring.

  • It’s important to keep payroll expenses accurate and updated to ensure the business meets legal requirements.
  • If you’re looking to convert from manual bookkeeping to digital, consider a staggered approach.
  • Sales tax rates and due dates vary by state, so be sure to research your local obligations.
  • A bookkeeping service is usually responsible for the first 4 steps but you can also do it yourself.
  • He has presented to more than 250,000 people and is frequently interviewed by the media as an authority on real estate and small business entrepreneurship.
  • Again, most accounting software tackles the bulk of this process for you automatically, including generating the financial reports we discuss below.
  • Larger businesses adopt more sophisticated software to keep track of their accounting journals.

But Donna M. Marino, a psychologist and executive coach/trainer, says that’s not true. For instance, when Robertson attends her child’s sports events in the evening, she might allocate an hour in the early morning for a client consultation. If she has a crucial case the next day, she makes sure to spend quality time with her family beforehand. To learn more about accounting terminology, download the accounting glossary from Tech Republic Premium. Some bookkeepers choose to earn an optional certification from associations such as National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers or the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. One benefit of virtual bookkeepers is that they offer lower pricing compared to local bookkeepers.

Bookkeeping Best Practices

They’ll then search for these on your balance sheet, income statement, and statement of cash flows. However, understanding bookkeeping basics is crucial for making informed financial decisions, paying taxes and ensuring your business’s long-term success. An accounting software, like QuickBooks Online, helps you organize your financial data, prepare small business taxes, run payroll, do your invoicing, and more. But, Bingham warns, you get what you give when it comes to accounting and bookkeeping software.

Bookkeeping Basics: A How-To Guide for Small Business Owners

Regardless, work with your bookkeeper and accountant to ensure the amount of cash left in the bank is sufficient for unexpected costs. Finding the right level of cash to be kept on hand requires a proper cash flow forecast and cash monitoring. Businesses might not want to keep all cash in the bank, as having an excessive amount of cash in the bank could mean missed opportunities in investment income.