Bookkeeping Best Practices for Small Businesses

by | May 27, 2024

What is Bookkeeping? 

Bookkeeping is the process of recording all the financial transactions of your business in an organised and systematic way. These transactions include sales, purchases, receipts, and payments made by an individual or an organisation. 

Bookkeeping Best Practices 

Managing your business finances effectively starts with good bookkeeping. At Chan & Naylor Pymble, we’ve compiled a list of essential bookkeeping best practices to help you streamline your processes, improve accuracy, and support your business growth.

1. Setting Up Your Bookkeeping System 

When setting up a bookkeeping system, you must consider several factors:  

  • Choosing the Right Method: Selecting the appropriate accounting method is crucial. In Australia, businesses can choose between the cash method and the accrual method. The cash method recognises income and expenses when cash is received or paid, while the accrual method records them when earned or incurred, regardless of when cash transactions occur. 
  • Selecting Bookkeeping Software: Choosing the right bookkeeping software is essential for maintaining accurate financial records and meeting ATO requirements. Popular options for Australian businesses include Xero, MYOB, and QuickBooks Online, which offer features such as real-time financial data, GST compliance, and integration with ATO systems. 
  • Creating a Chart of Accounts: Developing a comprehensive chart of accounts is essential for organising financial transactions. As a business owner, you should list major account categories such as assets, liabilities, equity, revenue, and expenses, and subdivide each category as needed. Regularly reviewing and updating your chart of accounts ensures that it reflects your business’s current operations and complies with regulatory requirements. 

2. Maintaining Accurate Records 

Accurate record-keeping is fundamental to effective bookkeeping: 

  • Ensure Timely Data Entry: Timely and accurate data entry is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your financial records. You should establish a systematic process for recording transactions, whether manually or using accounting software. Prompt data entry reduces the risk of errors and ensures that your financial information is always up-to-date.
  • Organise Your Receipts and Invoices: Efficient record-keeping relies on organising receipts and invoices effectively. You can create a systematic filing system, digitise receipts using scanning apps or software, keep track of due dates for invoices, and regularly reconcile accounts to ensure accuracy in your financial records.
  • Utilise Digital Tools: Embrace digital tools to streamline your bookkeeping process and reap benefits such as automation, accessibility, and data security. You can use accounting software, receipt scanning apps, and cloud storage services to digitise records, automate tasks, and enhance overall efficiency in managing your finances.

3. Tracking Income and Expenses 

Tracking income and expenses accurately is vital for gaining insights into your business’s financial performance. To achieve this: 

  • Record Sales and Revenue: It’s crucial to accurately record sales and revenue transactions to assess financial performance effectively. Establish a consistent system for recording transactions, issue invoices promptly, and reconcile sales records regularly to ensure accuracy in your financial records.
  • Categorise Expenses: Proper categorisation of expenses enables businesses to track spending and analyse expenditure patterns efficiently. Develop expense categories, use subcategories for detailed tracking, and assign codes or labels to expenses for better organisation and reporting purposes.
  • Understand Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) represents the direct costs associated with producing goods or services sold by your business. Understanding COGS is essential for assessing profitability, monitoring trends, and making informed decisions regarding pricing and production strategies.

For more insights on when businesses should engage in record-keeping, you can find additional information here

4. Managing Accounts Receivable and Payable 

Effective management of accounts receivable and payable is critical for maintaining cash flow: 

  • Effectively Track and Collect Receivables: Enhance your receivables management by implementing strategies such as establishing clear credit policies, sending timely reminders for overdue invoices, providing incentives for early payment, and utilising accounting software to track payment statuses and send automated reminders.
  • Efficiently Manage Payables and Vendor Relations: Focus on managing accounts payable effectively by negotiating favorable payment terms with vendors, strategically scheduling payments to optimise cash flow, regularly monitoring aging reports to identify overdue invoices, and maintaining transparent communication channels with vendors to foster positive relationships.
  • Importance of Maintaining a Good Credit Score: Maintaining a good credit score is crucial for accessing financing, securing favorable terms with vendors, and demonstrating financial reliability. To uphold a good credit score, you should prioritise timely bill payments, utilise credit responsibly, and conduct regular monitoring of credit reports to identify and address any discrepancies promptly.

5. Reconcile Bank Statements  

In your financial management, bank reconciliation is essential for ensuring accuracy. This process involves gathering documents, comparing transactions, identifying and resolving discrepancies, adjusting records, and reconciling balances. Prioritising monthly reconciliation helps detect errors, maintain accuracy, and monitor cash flow effectively. 

For a detailed step-by-step guide on reconciling bank statements, read more here

6. Monitor Cash Flow 

Effectively managing cash flow involves implementing various strategies, including forecasting cash flow, handling accounts receivable and payable, managing expenses, and establishing a cash reserve for unexpected expenses or periods of low cash flow. Using a cash flow statement offers a comprehensive overview of cash inflows and outflows, enabling you to record transactions, categorise cash flows, calculate net cash flow, and make informed financial decisions.  

Additionally, it’s crucial to anticipate and prepare for seasonal fluctuations by forecasting cash flow, accumulating a cash reserve during peak seasons, and diversifying revenue streams to mitigate dependence on seasonal income. 

For tips and strategies in managing personal and business cash flows, you can explore additional information here

7. Preparing Financial Statements 

  • Understanding Essential Financial Statements: Learn about the importance of the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. They give you a complete picture of your business’s financial performance, how liquid your assets are, and your financial stability. 
  • How to Prepare These Statements: Understand the step-by-step process for creating each financial statement. This includes gathering the right financial information, organising it correctly, and making sure everything is accurate. 
  • Importance of Regular Financial Reporting: It’s essential to report your finances consistently and on time. It helps you make smart decisions, keeps everyone informed about your business’s financial health, and ensures you meet legal requirements. 
  • Using Financial Statements for Business Health Monitoring: Explore how financial statements can help you assess your business’s profitability, cash flow, and efficiency. They give you insights to spot trends, identify areas needing improvement, and make strategic changes based on data. 

8. Ensuring Compliance with Tax Obligations 

Staying compliant with tax regulations is essential for small businesses. Here’s what you need to know:  

  • Understanding Your Tax Obligations: Familiarise yourself with the various tax obligations relevant to your business structure and industry. This includes understanding income tax, Goods and Services Tax (GST), and payroll tax. Each type of tax has specific requirements and deadlines, and it’s crucial to know what applies to your business to ensure timely and accurate payments. 
  • Tips for Tax Season Preparation: Preparing for tax season involves several key steps. Start by organising all your financial documents, such as receipts, invoices, and bank statements, to ensure you have everything you need for filing. Leverage available deductions and credits to reduce your taxable income. Meeting filing deadlines is crucial to avoid penalties and interest charges. Using accounting software can simplify this process by keeping all your financial information in one place and generating necessary reports. 
  • Benefits of Professional Tax Compliance: Working with a professional accountant offers significant advantages in managing your tax obligations. A professional can ensure you comply with all relevant tax laws and regulations, helping you avoid costly penalties. They can also optimise your tax strategies, identifying opportunities for deductions and credits you might miss on your own. By minimising your tax liabilities, a professional accountant helps improve your overall financial health, allowing you to focus on growing your business. 

For further insights into common bookkeeping errors, you can explore more details here

9. Planning for Growth and Scalability 

Strategic planning lays the foundation for sustainable business growth and scalability.  

  • Importance of Forecasting and Budgeting: Recognise the pivotal role of forecasting revenue, expenses, and cash flow and creating a comprehensive budget in guiding your business’s financial decisions, allocating resources effectively, and anticipating future challenges and opportunities. 
  • Using Bookkeeping Data for Informed Decisions: Leverage the wealth of insights gleaned from your bookkeeping data to analyse historical trends, identify emerging opportunities, and make informed strategic decisions that drive sustainable growth and competitive advantage. 
  • Preparing for Business Expansion: Strategically plan and execute expansion initiatives by conducting thorough market research, assessing your business’s readiness for growth, securing necessary funding or investment, and implementing scalable operational processes to accommodate increased demand and capitalise on new market opportunities. 
  • Role of Bookkeeping in Securing Funding: Showcase the financial health and viability of your business to potential investors or lenders by maintaining accurate financial records, demonstrating consistent profitability and cash flow, and articulating a compelling growth strategy aligned with your long-term objectives. 

How Chan & Naylor Can Help You Grow Your Business

At Chan & Naylor Pymble, we offer a comprehensive range of accounting services tailored to meet the diverse needs of small businesses. Here’s how we can assist you: 

  • Bookkeeping Services 

Our bookkeeping services ensure your financial records are accurate and up-to-date, handling daily transactions, expense tracking, and bank reconciliations. This allows you to focus on running your business while we maintain clear financial records and streamline operations. 

  • Business Tax Reporting 

Our tax experts help you stay compliant with all Australian tax regulations and optimise your tax position by managing tax. We ensure you take advantage of all available deductions and credits, reducing your tax burden.  

  • Business Review 

We conduct comprehensive business reviews that include financial analysis, performance evaluation, and strategic recommendations. This helps you understand your business’s strengths and weaknesses, improve efficiency, and identify growth opportunities. 

  • Business Restructuring

Our business restructuring services analyse your current structure and implement changes to enhance profitability and operational efficiency. Whether streamlining operations or planning for growth, we provide the expertise and support you need. 

Why Choose Chan & Naylor for Your Accounting Needs?

  • Experience: With over 30 years in the industry, we have the knowledge and expertise to help businesses succeed, providing trusted advice and reliable support. 
  • Personalised Service: Your business will have access to a dedicated client manager supported by a team of highly skilled professionals, ensuring personalised attention and efficient service. 
  • Tailored Solutions: We understand that every business is unique, which is why we offer customised solutions to meet your specific needs, addressing your challenges and maximising opportunities for growth.
  • Cloud-based Accounting: With our cloud-based accounting solutions, you’re guaranteed security and flexibility in your financial records. 

About Chan & Naylor    

Founded in 1990, we have partnered with thousands of businesses all over Australia. Choosing Chan & Naylor Pymble means you’re not just selecting a service provider; you’re gaining a partner aligned with your business goals. You’ll have access to a dedicated client manager supported by a team of accountants that specialises in business tax and investments.   Contact us today so we can discuss how we can help you.   


This article serves as general information only and may not account for the unique circumstances of individual readers. For personalised and strategic solutions tailored to your specific situation, we invite you to seek professional advice from Chan & Naylor. Our highly experienced team is dedicated to helping you navigate the complexities of Australian taxation, ensuring that your financial strategies align with the latest regulations. Contact us today to embark on a path of informed and customised tax planning for your property investments.