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Ray shares tips for bookeeping

“One thing an accountant hates to see coming is a client with a box,” Longwood Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Business Analyst Kim Ray said in a press release. 

Ray operated her own accounting business for 12 years before coming to SBDC and experienced those clients first hand.

“When an accountant sees a box, the bill goes up,” she said in the release.

Accountants are paid by the hour, she said, and going through a year’s worth of receipts takes time.

Ray, who received her MBA from Virginia Tech in 2004, currently advises new and prospective business owners in Farmville’s SBDC office. One of the first things she tells her clients is to make time for record keeping.

“A lot of small business owners are so busy keeping up with the primary focus of their business that they don’t have time to do the administrative work,” Ray said in the release.

The regimented nature of accounting, she adds, is also not appealing to everyone.

“There are a lot of rules and steps in accounting, and you can’t skip them,” she said. “You can’t be creative.”

While “creative accounting” is something you probably don’t want to do, there are creative ways to establish a recordkeeping system that works for you. Here are Ray’s tips:

Get organized

Start by developing a system for organizing receipts, bank records and warranties for equipment. According to the release it can be done with one dozen 8 by 10-inch envelopes, one for each month. Once you have source documents organized, you don’t have to keep them in reach. Just close them up, and you’re done.

Have a backup plan

Before you throw those documents in a box or envelope, have some type of listing. Organize your documents and have a record-keeping system — it can be as simple as a ledger or a computer file. According to the release it’s also wise to back that data up in another location.

Seek assistance

The worst scenario is not completing the first two tips. A business owner who doesn’t have time for bookkeeping should consider outsourcing. The release cited hiring an accountant or other professional relieves stress and often saves money in the long run. The main thing is bookkeeping needs to be done. Make a habit of record keeping.

Establish a CPA relationship

It pays to have a CPA you can call for business advice. A CPA can look at a major purchase from a tax-wise perspective and provide legal representation on IRS issues. It never hurts to have a CPA look over what you’ve done. These professionals stay up to date on the latest laws. It’s always good to have expert advice.

To make an appointment or for more information on the services SBDC provides, contact the Longwood Small Business Development center at (434) 395-2086 or visit www.sbdc-longwood.com.

This is a contributed column from Longwood University’s Small Business Development Center, offering business tips that will appear periodically in The Herald.