ask the expert | what do i need to know about record keeping for my biz?

MPVA150.jpg

today we have a super helpful post on record keeping from our expert partner in administration, kelly evans from mary poppins - virtual assistant

Record keeping is a pretty simple thing. So why does it seem to end up in the ‘too hard basket’  left until the end of the quarter, or the financial year – when the GST or Tax Return is due?

If you are a sole trader - it doesn’t have to be this way! Let’s break it down and put in place some simple systems to keep you accountable and on track.

PS. If you really are just too damn busy to do this, then that’s great because it means your business is booming and… you probably should look to pay someone to do it for you!

There are two main parts – records and a cashbook (to record your expenses and income).

INCOME

You need to keep records of your income (or sales). What records you need to keep will vary according to your location, business (and other factors, for example whether you use a cash register or not, or whether you are GST registered or not) so you might want to check with your accountant up front. 

(For example, in Australia there are some requirements specific to using a cash register, such as holding onto your till rolls.)

You do need to keep a copy of the invoices that you issue. I upload a PDF copy of mine straight to Dropbox.

Every sale needs to be recorded in a cashbook - I use Kashoo as I love the fact that it is cloud based and pretty simple to use. There are many other popular software products out there including MYOB, Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and some industry specific ones like Agrimaster. Some have lots of bonus features and are very handy for reporting and business planning (if you know how to use them, if you don’t they can just be a pain).

  • Set yourself a calendar reminder daily to record your sales in your cashbook at the end of the day.

At its simplest, you can just record your income on a paper cashbook which you can buy from a newsagency or office supply store.

(If you are in Australia - you can print from the templates included in the ATO publication Record Keeping for Small Business) 

EXPENSES

Now onto the bit that most of us dread – expenses. Again don’t forget to check with your accountant what you can claim for your business as you might be surprised!

(eg. In Australia, people who work outdoors can claim for hats and sunscreen).

Here’s how I keep track of mine. I store all of my expense invoices electronically.

Paper Invoices

It starts at the point of sale! If I am given a paper invoice (like a fuel receipt) I use my smartphone (well my Galaxy Tab actually - but any smartphone with a camera will do), take a picture of the receipt, and instantly upload it to my expense folder in Dropbox.

e-Invoices

If I am given an electronic invoice, I copy it immediately to Dropbox. Don’t delay. Don’t think that you will do it later. Do it immediately.

Recurring Payments

If I have a recurring payment (and thus recurring invoices) I set myself up a calendar reminder, on the day the invoice is available to download it to Dropbox.

  • Put a reminder in your calendar for each recurring payment

CASHBOOK DAY

Then I have one day a week (Monday for me) where I set myself a Google reminder to spend an hour entering those expenses from Dropbox into my cashbook. The key is to do it once a week, every single week (or month or however often you need to). 

  • Put a reminder in your calendar for Cashbook Day.

RECONCILE

Once a month get your bank statement (paper or electronic) and reconcile it with your records. This means you compare each transaction on the statement with your records and check it off.

Some software will allow you import straight from your bank account to your software and do automatic reconciliation, but if you are using an excel spreadsheet for example, or a paper cashbook you may need to do this manually.

  • Put a reminder in your calendar for the day of the month you do bank reconciliation.

So there you have it. Record keeping is done. If you ever need those invoices you can find them on Dropbox. I have a folder structure in place in my Dropbox, with subfolders for each category (software, fuel etc). The receipts sort in order of the day they were uploaded which makes them easy to find (as long as you follow the system and upload them the same day). 

END OF YEAR

At the end of the year – I share my Dropbox folder with my tax agent, so they have access to my records and can do my tax return.

BUT WHAT IF?...

If you are ever audited you simply need your cashbook records, and printed copies of the Dropboxed invoices (if requested) to give to the auditor.

(For businesses in Australia you need to hang on to your records for at least 5 years, just in case).

Simple really isn’t it?

Kelly Evans is a virtual Mary Poppins. A qualified trainer, assessor and book keeper, with over 10 years experience in administration in both the private and public sectors. Her mission is to make small business easy with quality administrative assistance. Visit www.virtualmarypoppins.com.au