The Bookkeeping Basics Every Small Business Owner Needs

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bookkeeping basics

If running a small business wasn’t already demanding enough, keeping up with bookkeeping can lead to late nights worrying if you don’t feel confident in handling business finances. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that hard when following basic bookkeeping guidelines to keep your business on track.

Bookkeeping is the process of recording all of a business’s financial transactions. This may sound similar to the job of an accountant, but it’s not. An accountant’s job is to interpret and analyze the data recorded by the bookkeeper. Both roles are important, but they are very different. 

Get to Know These Bookkeeping Basics


When it comes to your business, this is one of your best friends. Assets are anything of value in your business including the cash in you bank accounts, inventory, office technologies, furnishings, and your accounts receivable balance—money owed to you by customers.


These are the debts owed by your business. Liabilities include loans and accounts payable—what you owe to vendors.


It’s impossible to run a business without expenses. Things like electricity, cell phones, employee salaries, and new client lunches keep the business rolling. But, like most things, they do come with a price.


Another hot commodity for your business is your income. Simply put, this is the money earned by your business either through products sold or services provided.


When you subtract your business liabilities from your assets, you find your equity. This reflects the financial interest of your business.

Debits and Credits

To record any financial transaction to your ledger, you use debits and credits. Debits are recorded on the left column of your ledger and can increase the balance of other accounts (i.e. assets). Credits are noted in the right column of the ledger and can increase the balance of other accounts (i.e. revenue). If using double-entry accounting, a corresponding credit entry is made for every debit made, and vice versa.

Begin the Bookkeeping Process

Once you have the basics down, you’re ready to start handling the steps of bookkeeping.

Set up your chart of accounts

As a pillar of your business, your chart of accounts is a crucial part of properly recording transactions. Some people use a ledger book, although an accounting software program, such as Wave, is recommended since it’s easier to set up to suit your business needs.

Start recording all of your financial transactions

Using your ledger book or accounting software, you can begin recording all of your transactions, from paying a bill to creating an invoice. Using software seems to be the better choice, as it simplifies the invoicing process.

Reconcile your bank accounts

This step ensures you have an accurate cash balance, which is especially important when your cash flow is limited. Once again, software simplifies the process, linking your bank accounts to your software if you choose.

Close out the month and run financial statements


If using a ledger book, close each individual account and combine into account types, which will take some time. Or, use software instead, which handles the process automatically.

Learn More About Bookkeeping

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