Financial statements, invoices, receipts… All essential things to keep hold of, but how on earth do you keep them in order? In our previous accounting blog we touched on the importance of accuracy in reducing tax spend. So it’s only natural that we share our insider tips on keeping your accounts in order to ensure nothing is missed out.
Be proactive with organisation and filing
We know that most business owners find dealing with taxes and accounts rather uninspiring (often resulting in the shove everything in a drawer and deal with it later approach). However, organising things as and when you receive them will prevent the panic later down the line. Not convinced? Here are some easy steps you can follow.
1) Have a system and stick with it - If you keep changing the way you file things you’ll never know where anything is. You’re far too busy to spend time searching for something that was filed away 3 months ago.
2) Share your procedures with others - If your business has more than two people doing the filing you need a written document about how and where things should be filed (and as mentioned above if you have a method stick with it.
3) Use reference numbers that collate to records - This works whether they are in double entry format in some bookkeeping software, or just in an excel spreadsheet. For example, give supplier invoices (SI’s) and expense receipts an unique number, write it on the top right hand corner of the invoice and use this code in the reference field when entering them into your bookkeeping software. If you then file these in reference number order you will always be able to find either the invoice or the entry in your records.
4) Keep things simple with sales invoice numbering systems - It’s not necessary to have a separate numbering system per customer as your customer ledger records will to that for you. If you don’t use customer ledger records chances are your company is small enough that you won’t have trouble finding invoices.
5) Separate & Label - Large bulky files are not only overwhelming, they’re difficult to handle too. Keep bank statements in order in a file of their own, and keep separate files for each section of the bookkeeping process (e.g. sales, purchases, expenses). Make sure sections are labelled clearly and sectioned appropriately. For example, your purchase file may have a section for invoices, supplier statements and correspondence and your sales file may double as a credit control file.
6) Keep your VAT and Payroll in order - Much like the point above, make sure you have separate dedicated files for both VAT and payroll. You should have one VAT file per year, and separate your payroll records by tax year.
Know the important dates
The last minute tax return panic can be one of the most stressful times of year for small business owners. On Top of that there are also various other deadlines to try and keep track of, to help you out here’s a quick guide (pdf).
Knowing what you need to keep and what you don’t
By keeping things organised it will be easier to identify what you need to keep and what you don’t by identifying things such as duplicate copies of the same document. However, if in doubt it’s always better to keep it and consult with your accountant. Also, just because the tax year has passed don’t throw out your old documents. You need to keep hold of those for 6 years at least.
Need a hand, give us a call? Here at the Chichester Accountants we work with small business owners like you, and we’re passionate about taking the stress out of accounting. Any questions or queries just give us a call on 01243 532490, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog was written by Monica Jervis, small business owner, founder of the Chichester Accountants and qualified accountant.
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