Finance September 2, 2011 Last updated September 2nd, 2011 493 Reads share

Top Ten Tips For Managing Your Books

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When it comes to your accountant, time really is money. The more you can do yourself to really reduce the workload for your accountant, the less time your accountant will have to spend on your accounts, and you may be able to negotiate a reduction on your fee. Alternatively, and preferably, your accountant may be able to divert attention from recording history and focus instead on helping you to shape your financial future. In the last post, we looked at Submerged in paperwork?

  1. Divide and conquer” really works for paperwork. This applies to splitting up, (i.e. filing), both the paperwork itself and to the time devoted to getting your paperwork in order. “A little and often” makes the chore of paperwork more palatable.
  2. Lever arch files are good for storing invoices, bank statements etc. and they stack neatly on a shelf. You can label the back of the folders to make document retrieval easy.
  3. Pick a typically quiet time in your working week and make a dairy date with yourself to “do the books” at that time every week.
  4. File paperwork regularly. If you receive invoices digitally, make sure you have separate folders for these on your computer and save files as soon as you receive them, rather than let them languish in your inbox.
  5. Keep separate files for everything, (e.g. purchases invoices separate from sales, bank statements filed chronologically, and each bank account filed separately), or use appropriate file dividers rather than separate files if you do not have a lot of paperwork. File dividers can come with either pre-printed tabs – e.g. month – or plain for you to assign your own label.
  6. For dishonest employees, cash is one of the most desirable things in your business. So, control your cash, balance your tills at least daily, and do not take money out of your own tills as it sets a bad example to your employees, as well as having implications for the accuracy of your records.
  7. Give your accountant everything required to prepare your accounts on day one. It takes your accountant valuable time to look for something that isn’t there, remember time is money… Ask your accountant for a checklist, so that you can deliver everything that your accountant needs.
  8. Use a proprietary bookkeeping software package. Spreadsheets are not really suitable for keeping accounting information in, as it is too easy to make errors in formulae.  Ask your accountant for advice one the best software package, and advice on where to find training. Most county enterprise boards offer training in realtion to bookeeping. Book-keeping will be so much easier when you know what you are doing and why!
  9. Don’t expect a fee reduction without agreeing in advance the extra work you will do with your accountant.  Of course, you must actually deliver on the promises you make to your accountant to avail of the agreed fee reduction.
  10. If all else fails… at least keep everything relating to your accounts in one place, (“the big box approach”), and employ a good bookkeeper.

What tips do you have for keeping on top of your books?

helencousins

helencousins

Helen Cousins, a chartered accountant by profession, is a business mentor, trainer and consultant for a wide range of Irish SMEs, often working under the auspices of state agencies via her company Xcel Business Solutions. In a successful career spanning more than 25 years, Helen worked in accountancy practice for PricewaterhouseCoopers, and worked in Financial Controller and senior management positions in manufacturing industry, before starting her own consultancy for small businesses. Helen is also a self catering entrepreneur, operating her own self catering holiday home business in Wexford. She is a director and former Chair of the Irish Self Catering Federation, and she works closely with the tourist industry in Ireland.

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