Five Monthly (And Two Weekly) Accounting Tasks For Small Businesses
When you’re fully focused on the business of doing business, it can be hard to remember or set aside time to take care of bookkeeping and accounting. But putting off those tasks puts you at risk of falling behind, forgetting important information, or misplacing documents—and possibly running into big surprises about your financial position when you finally get around to reconciling your books.
In the end, it’s much easier to make time to do your bookkeeping on a regular basis. Here are five accounting tasks that should be done at least once a week, along with two that should be done every day.
(And saying that these things should be done weekly, doesn’t mean you can’t do them more often than that if you want to. No small business ever failed due to over diligent bookkeeping)
Invoice customers and clients
This is something you should try doing every day if possible—the easiest way to stay on top of billing is to invoice completed projects while they’re still fresh in your mind. However, if that’s not possible, prepare and send invoices no less than once a week. It keeps things from piling up and getting out of hand and minimizes the time you’ll have to forget about or misplace paperwork, and it keeps money flowing in consistently and reliably.
Update your general ledger
This is another task that’s best if done every day, but definitely don’t let it go longer than a week. Record all transactions—sales, invoices, payments, bills—in whatever bookkeeping software you’re using to keep your records, and then file any paper invoices and receipts.
Review and follow up on payables
Unpaid bills can lead to late fees and bad relationships with your vendors, creditors, and employees. Keep an eye on unpaid bills and invoices so that you can pay them on time (or early, if you can get a discount for that). Then, of course, make any payments that are due, and prepare paychecks if the end of the pay period is approaching.
Review projected cash flow
Cash flow management is a big issue for a lot of small businesses, particularly in startup and growth phases. Maintain a record showing your current cash position and expected incoming and outgoing payments for the next several weeks. It will help you in planning your budget for future expenses and avoid any big surprises.
Run a backup
All it takes is one break-in, lightning strike, or spilled cup of coffee to destroy years of accounting records. At least once a week, back up all of your data to a solid-state storage device like a flash drive, and keep it in a safe place, like a fire safe or off-site location. Take a backup of the backup either another device or to cloud storage. You simply can’t be too careful.
AND TWO THINGS TO DO EVERY DAY
Check cash on hand
“Cash on hand” doesn’t just refer to the dollar bills in your cash box—it refers to readily available funds in your bank account, as well. Review this every day, at the beginning of the day. Nothing spoils day-to-day operations like a bounced check or a debit card that won’t swipe.
If your bank offers mobile deposit, you might be able to deposit checks the minute they reach your hand. If not, take your deposits to the bank every day. There’s no reason to have cash and checks sitting on your desk when they could be in your bank account where they can do you some good.