Bookkeeping and Record Keeping Basics

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Bookkeeping and Record Keeping Basics
Adapted from content excerpted from the American Express® OPEN Small Business Network

Proper bookkeeping is important to sustaining and expanding a business. Without it, you run the risk of hitting cash flow crunches, wasting money, and missing out on opportunities to expand. When you are devising or revising your bookkeeping routine, remember that the purpose of bookkeeping is to help you manage your business and to enable tax agencies to evaluate your business activity. As long as your bookkeeping achieves both of these objectives, it can - and should - be as simple as possible. The general guidelines here outline what you must take care of and provide ideas for how to keep your books in an orderly manner. But before making any decisions regarding bookkeeping, check with your accountant or tax preparer because bookkeeping needs vary dramatically by business. Many small business owners choose to use software to keep track of various aspects of their business, and resources are provided here to help you institute computer automation. The key to taking full advantage of bookkeeping software is to determine if it saves you time and frees you up to concentrate on running your business. In many cases it will, but be careful not to fall into the trap of wasting time setting up computer bookkeeping that could be more efficiently handled on paper. The paper bookkeeping forms mentioned here can be obtained from most stationary stores. Some bookkeeping functions are best relegated to an accountant. While it is essential to retain a thorough knowledge by reviewing your books frequently, an accountant or bookkeeper can free you up to concentrate on expanding your business. Even a bookkeeping task that takes only a few hours a week may be better relegated to someone else if that time can be better spent. Click on the topics below to learn more about what basic records need to be kept by a small business: • Revenues and Expenses...
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