1 Set-up a system that you can follow and use. This is probably the first most important step to keeping good records. You want to use some kind of accounting software such as Sage 50 or Sage One (online version).
2 File receipts by category or month. Filing receipts by category/vendor is the best method but involves more filing. Filing receipts in a monthly folder filed by the month you paid them is a faster method. If you’re dealing with inventory and you have a lot of bills from suppliers, file those bills by supplier. These 3 easy methods will keep your files neat and easy to find.
3 When paying a bill – record the date and cheque # on the bill and if it’s a partial payment – the amount and date of each payment. Later on you’ll know that bill has been paid. It’s a simple thing but that information can be handy to have 6 or 12 months down the road.
4 Always get a receipt – cash purchases are difficult to claim otherwise, and credit card statements are not always proof enough. Sometimes you can create your own receipt, as in the case of metered parking – however, you should have some paperwork from the business/organization you were visiting plus a notation in your appointment book to provide your audit trail.
5 Do your bookkeeping on a regular basis – at least monthly. Any longer than that and it becomes unmanageable and you will tend to put it off more.
6 Entertainment receipts – record the date, clients name and purpose of the event. It’s much harder to remember the details of events 6-12 months later.
7 Bank reconciliation – this is done by comparing your bank record to your bank statement and matching up all the cheques and deposits. This should be done every month. It’s much easier to find mistakes on a monthly basis than to reconcile a whole year’s worth of data. Do not throw away your cancelled cheques.
8 Make detailed deposit slips (include customer name, cheque number and invoice being paid) and keep a copy. This is especially important if you use ATM machines to deposit.
9 Make a schedule or list of things to be done each month…especially if you’re remitting any of the following taxes – PST, GST, Payroll, WCB, quarterly income. Record these dates on a calendar for easy reminder.
10 Tracking auto mileage for business – a log book is essential if your car is used for both business and personal. There are lots of small books useful for recording this information and again it doesn’t matter what you use as long as you use something. To help you remember to get a gas receipt, use a pink post-it note that says need gas receipt, every time you buy gas.
11 If you are using another program to create your invoices, for instance a word processor or a spreadsheet, remember to create a manual invoice numbering system. It’s very important to keep a sequential numbered system, otherwise you’re picking numbers out of the air and could use the same number twice.
12 Review Accounts Receivable at year-end to determine those that are not collectible.
13 Archive last year’s data. That is, remove last year’s files to a storage box, and create new files for this year’s data in your current file system. Also, backup your computer accounting data files or archive them into a folder marked with the year.
14 Remember, you are running a business. Keep business affairs separate from your personal affairs.
15 Smart business people know that time is money, by planning ahead.
16 Organized records will make life much easier for your bookkeeper whether that person is yourself or someone you’re paying to do that job for you.
17 In the event you have dealings with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), the business person with organized records will have a much easier time than the person who is not.
18 Under the Income Tax Act, any person who carries on business in Canada and anyone who is required to pay or collect taxes, must keep books and records at their place of business or residence, in Canada, in such a format or order to enable the assessment and payment of taxes. Most people in business are aware that there is a proper way to keep books. For those who are not aware it is important to realize that CRA has the power to require you to keep proper books.