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Virtual Bookkeeping Checklist: The Basics for Small Businesses

BY Ann Whittaker In Outsourced Accounting Services On Dec 15, 2014 With 4 Comments

As the end of the year approaches you might be overwhelmed just thinking about getting your books in order. So many business owners get distracted by everything else that goes into keeping a company running. It's totally normal and understandable.

We're here to remind you that keeping up on the books needs to be at the forefront of your mind. It's simple if you do a little bit every day. To make things easier for you, we've created a basic bookkeeping checklist that will help you know what tasks need to be done daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. 

If you use a virtual bookkeeping software or service, it makes things much easier to track. Let's get started:

The Virtual Bookkeeping Checklist

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Click here to download our complete small business guide to outsourced accounting services.

2 Daily Small Business Bookkeeping Tasks

01. Check how much cash you have on hand.

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The first thing you do every day should be to check your business bank account to see how much cash you have on hand. Every small business owner knows that unexpected expenses can pop up daily. You don't want to guess what you have on hand. This is where business owners get into trouble. It takes just a few minutes, and is truly worth every penny.

02. Be aware of incoming and outgoing payments.

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Check in with employees and partners in the morning, and have them remind you of any expenses they are aware of. It's a good idea to keep a list for the day of both incoming and outgoing payments. This will give you a good idea of what your cash position will be tomorrow.

7 Monthly Small Business Bookkeeping Tasks

01. Prepare and send invoices.

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Stay on top of sending invoices as it is helpful for customers as well as for your team. You want to send out invoices while your services are still fresh in customers' minds. And, obviously, the sooner you send out invoices, the sooner you'll get paid.

02. Record customer billings.

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Keep your spreadsheets or accounting software up to date. As soon as you send billing statements and invoices to customers, make a record of it where you can easily assess the status of customers' payment positions. It's common for small business owners to get distracted by other tasks of running a company, and you don't want to forget to send an invoice or send the same invoice twice.

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03. Record customer payments.

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This is actually quite fun, don't you think? It's nice to get paid. So make a note of it. Spreadsheets and accounting software all of a sudden become your favorite thing.

04. File vendor bills and payment records.

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Call us old-school, but we like physical paper copies of all bills. File away everything where you can easily find it. Go alphabetical. We recommend printing out e-bills as well so that you can have everything in one place. You don't have to jump back and forth from the computer to the filing cabinet trying to remember who sends e-bills and who sends paper. 

05. Make vendor payments.

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Just as you record payments coming in, you'll have to record outgoing payments. Writing checks is probably every business owner's least favorite thing to do. It's hard to say goodbye to that hard-earned money. But you've still got to keep on top of your payments. We definitely believe that if you stay on top of your payments, your customers will do the same for you. Golden rule, right?

06. Update payroll file.

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This one is a good sign--the fact that you have employees to pay means you're not running this business all on your own. You owe it to the people who help you most to keep on top of payroll. They show up for you, and make sure everything is running. Show up for them, and they'll continue to grow your business. Go team!

07. Review forecasted cash flow.

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This is what you're shooting for. You want to constantly have an idea of what your cash flow goals are. Remind yourself weekly, and make adjustments as necessary. We suggest you have a weekly, monthly, and annual cash flow projection. This enables you to have both an immediate and holistic view of your cash flow goals.

4 Quarterly Small Business Bookkeeping Tasks

01. Evaluate annual profit and loss estimates.

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How's everything looking so far this year? Take a look at your revenue, cost of sales, gross profit and expenses. How are the actual amounts holding up to your projections? What needs to happen in the upcoming quarter to make sure you hit your goals? This is a good time to strategize and get back on course if you've fallen off a bit.

02. Make quarterly payroll payments.

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Yes, you need to make quarterly payments on payroll.  Quarterly payroll filings and payments are due the last day of the month after the quarter ends. You'll use Federal Form 941 as well as any state filings. The end of a quarter will sneak up on you. Make sure you calendar in a day or two at the end of each quarter to complete all your filings.

03. Make quarterly sales tax payments.

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Yes, you need to make quarterly sales tax payments as well. Taxes aren't just an annual occurrence for small businesses. Stay up to date and informed. Here's some great tax tips to answer any questions you might have when it comes to small business tax preparation.

04. Make quarterly income tax payments.

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Same thing goes here. There are income tax payments that you need to make every quarter. Make sure you're accounting for these taxes. Taxes are a nuisance, but they're killer if you put them off. 

4 Annual Small Business Bookkeeping Tasks

01. Analyze year-end inventory.

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How did the year go for you? What's left over? What services/products did better or worse than you thought? What do you need to order for next year? 

02. Fill out IRS forms.

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Tedious but necessary. Get it out of the way so you can continue doing business as usual. It's a chore, but it has to be done. It's sort of like putting off the laundry until you have nothing to wear. It's better to stay on top of your tax filings so they don't pile up and overwhelm you when deadlines approach. 

03. Review full-year financial reports

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Hopefully this is a positive experience overall. Even if you didn't do as well as you had projected, it's an opportunity to improve and make goals for next year. What did this year teach you? How can you apply it and change things for the better?

04. Review tax returns before giving them to your accountant.

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This isn't just a nice thing for your accountant. You want to know the fiscal health and standing of your small business. Your accountant will make sure you don't file any mistakes, but you should have a good idea of where your business is at and where it's going. Hopefully you're growing.

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Content Manager at Ignite Spot who climbs mountains on the weekends so she can drink her tea and enjoy the view.

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