Bookkeeping For Dummies
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Bookkeeping, the methodical way in which businesses track their financial transactions, is rooted in accounting. Accounting is the total structure of records and procedures used to record, classify, and report information about a business’s financial transactions. Bookkeeping involves the recording of that financial information into the accounting system while maintaining adherence to solid accounting principles.

Bookkeepers are the ones who toil day in and day out to ensure that transactions are accurately recorded. Bookkeepers need to be very detail oriented and love to work with numbers because numbers and the accounts they go into are just about all these people see all day. A bookkeeper is not required to be a certified public accountant (CPA).

Many small business people who are just starting up their businesses initially serve as their own bookkeepers until the business is large enough to hire someone dedicated to keeping the books. Few small businesses have accountants on staff to check the books and prepare official financial reports; instead, they have bookkeepers on staff who serve as the outside accountants’ eyes and ears. Most businesses do seek an accountant with a CPA certification.

In many small businesses today, a bookkeeper enters the business transactions on a daily basis while working inside the company. At the end of each month or quarter, the bookkeeper sends summary reports to the accountant who then checks the transactions for accuracy and prepares financial statements.

In most cases, the accounting system is initially set up with the help of an accountant in order to be sure it uses solid accounting principles. That accountant periodically stops by the office and reviews the system to be sure transactions are being handled properly.

Accurate financial reports are the only way you can know how your business is doing. These reports are developed using the information you, as the bookkeeper, enter into your accounting system. If that information isn’t accurate, your financial reports are meaningless. As the old adage goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

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Lita Epstein, MBA, designs and teaches online courses in investing, finance, and taxes. She is the author of Trading For Dummies and Bookkeeping Workbook For Dummies.

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