Full cycle bookkeeping goes beyond the duties of a traditional bookkeeper. A full-cycle bookkeeper can complete the entire process of the bookkeeping cycle. As such, the full cycle bookkeeper can perform all of the bookkeeping requirements of a small business. That said, there must still be controls in place to separate duties so that your business assets are secure.
Simply stated, bookkeeping is the system of recording your business’s financial transactions, typically in a physical set of “books.” These ‘books’ present your business in terms of financial health, tax status, the ability to pay bills, borrow money, and make decisions regarding operations, investments, and other financial decisions. The bookkeeping for each company is different depending on the line of business the company operates in. Retailers have sales daily, which include cash sales and credit card sales. These daily transactions need to be accounted for as well as tracking the inventory that the retail carries.
If you compare this to a law firm, the bookkeeping is quite different. A law firm generates invoices to their clients and is typically paid with checks. Both companies also have bills to pay, credit cards that they use for purchases, and possibly loans or lines of credit. In each case, the financial transactions must be recorded daily and reconciled against the bank and credit card statements each month.
A full cycle bookkeeper works with the business owner and the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to ensure bookkeeping duties are performed in preparation for tax returns to be filed accurately and on time:
As you can see, a full-cycle bookkeeper can perform all of the bookkeeping functions required by a business. This requires a different skill set than a bookkeeper that is primarily a data entry bookkeeper, who enters bills, generates invoices, and performs a task like collecting receivables. The full-cycle bookkeeper has a working knowledge of the general ledger, can perform journal entries, reconcile accounts, and review financial statements.
Every business needs the full cycle bookkeeping work done but may not need a full-cycle bookkeeper. The complexity of the business’s accounting process will determine the requirements for the level of expertise you may need. A manufacturing facility often requires experienced bookkeepers with a working knowledge of cost accounting. It requires a high level of skill and experience in understanding complex issues such as depreciation, cost of goods, and various types of accruals. But a service-based business typically is not as complex. It can easily obtain full cycle bookkeeping without the need for hiring someone with the experience and knowledge of a full-cycle bookkeeper.
“The accounting cycle is the holistic process of recording and processing all financial transactions of a company, from when the transaction occurs, to its representation on the financial statements, to closing the accounts. One of the main duties of a bookkeeper is to keep track of the full accounting cycle from start to finish. The cycle repeats itself every fiscal year as long as a company remains in business.” **
The full accounting cycle includes:
An easy way to think of the accounting cycle is to picture what happens in your business through the course of a month. Each month, every company (no matter how big or small) needs to invoice customers, pay bills, manage cash, reconcile accounts, and publish financial statements. You may also have payroll, sales tax returns, journal entries, and accruals. While this may be pretty straightforward, it can also become quite complicated.
The accounting cycle is typically the same for all businesses in terms of timing. Still, the level of complexity varies greatly depending on the industry you are in and your business structure (do you have multiple entities that roll up into one set of financial statements?).
Do I need both a bookkeeper and an accountant? Yes. Many small business owners perform bookkeeping tasks taking them away from growing the business. Hiring a bookkeeper ensures that transactional and administrative-accounting functions are correctly executed and monthly financials are completed.
An accountant understands and analyzes the data providing insight, analysis, tax planning, and strategies. At a minimum, a business owner should have an accountant to provide them with tax planning and preparation. However, as your business grows, having a CPA is strongly recommended.
Running a successful business is hard work. Bookkeeping is challenging for even the most experienced business owner. Hire Carly, and let her do the bookkeeping for you.
Expex, based in Schenectady, NY, offers convenient and innovative bookkeeping services to help your small business succeed. Our application, Carly, can do everything a traditional bookkeeper does and more. This financial management program expertly delivers bill payments, bank and credit card reconciliation, and financial records consolidation. Call (518) 389-2305 today to get started, or contact us to learn more about Carly.