Guide

Set up a basic record-keeping system

Record-keeping best practice

To keep good control of your financial record-keeping, get into these good habits.

Hints and tips for record-keeping

What you need to do

When

Record sales in the sales ledger

daily or at least weekly

Record payments received in the sales ledger

daily or at least weekly

Record purchases in the purchase ledger

daily or at least weekly

Record payments made in the purchase ledger

daily or at least weekly

Reconcile the sales and purchase ledgers

every month

Chase all outstanding payments

as soon as they are overdue

Check your cash book against your bank statements and your sales and purchase ledgers against your cash book

every time you receive a bank statement


4 S's of record-keeping

1. System - spend time setting up a system which you stick to. Allocate a regular time every week/month to deal with your financial administration, or make it a key task for a trusted employee. File your records logically - put receipts in date-marked envelopes or folders and file bank statements in order.

2. Separate - one of the biggest mistakes business owners make is to mix their personal and professional finances. It is best to treat the business as a separate person, from which you only take income in the form of wages, dividends and in claiming back business expenses against receipts. So keep it separate - and simple.

3. Security - the fewer people involved in your record-keeping, the fewer the errors that are likely to creep in. Make it very clear whose responsibility it is to maintain records. It is a good idea to password-protect your computer records, and only divulge the password to a small number of people.

4. Safe storage - even if you choose to keep all your records on a computer, it is vital that you keep a regular (weekly, if not nightly) electronic back-up, and a paper copy elsewhere. Store records that cannot be copied, such as chequebook stubs and paying-in books, in a fireproof box.