Accountants are the backbone of a properly functioning small business. They keep track of financial records, prepare tax documents, and provide valuable advice to their clients. If you're an accountant yourself, you are quite literally the bee's knees.
But what does such a job involve? For the most part, it involves keeping your thumb to the pulse of important financial functions like tax, wages, and cash flow. That means maintaining a neat record of documents – and a wide range of documents, at that.
Every small business needs a core set of documents in order to run smoothly. Let's discuss the top 10 forms that are essential for all accountants to have for their small business clients in 2023.
What are accounting forms?
Accountants and CPAs responsible for the collection and maintenance of financial records. This includes keeping track of payroll information, taxes, accounts payable/receivable, audit reports, and more. As an accountant for small businesses, you're responsible for providing the necessary forms to your clients in order to properly document their finances.
These documents are known as accounting forms or financial statement forms. They help maintain accurate records which can be used to make informed decisions regarding money matters such as budgeting and tax planning.
For a long time, accounting forms were purely hard-copy and manually processed; record books were maintained by hand for hundreds of years, then the printing press came along and made it easier to access forms. Nowadays, due to the digital revolution, most accounting documents are created on computers or via online software programs.
Accounting software (like Bonsai!) is becoming increasingly popular among small business owners as it allows for automated calculation of financial data and makes filing taxes significantly easier.
How accountants benefit from using forms
It takes a lot of time and effort to keep track of every financial detail related to a small business. Accounting forms help streamline the process by providing an easy-to-use template for data entry and calculations.
By using accounting forms, accountants are able to save time on manual calculations and ensure accuracy in their work. Forms provide them with much-needed documentation that can be used for future reference or during audits if necessary.
Other benefits include:
- Analytics. Particularly if you use automated accounting software, you can run analytics on the data entered in forms to better understand the health of your client's businesses and make more informed decisions.
- Fraud detection and prevention. Accounting forms are a great way to detect any suspicious activity in your client and employee finances. You can easily spot discrepancies or red flags if you have access to the right data and documents.
- Tax preparation. One of the most important tasks for accountants is preparing tax returns, and this requires accurate financial statements, which can be obtained via accounting forms.
- Bank rapport. Having accurate and up-to-date financial records is essential for getting loans from banks or other lenders – and they're more likely to work with you if your paperwork is in order.
With the right documents prepared and maintained, the financial health of your business will be in top form.
The 10 essential accounting forms for small businesses in 2023
Every business is going to prepare its accounting forms a little differently; for instance, you're going to add your own branding, services, and prices. However, you'll find that there's a core set of crucial documents most (if not all) small businesses need. Here are the top 10 that you should be familiar with as an accountant.
1. Profit and loss
The success of your business relies heavily on money going in vs money going out of your accounts. The Profit and Loss statement is a document that captures these details in an easy-to-read format; you'll want to maintain these records for legal reasons as well as for your business growth and improvement.
2. Balance sheet
Want to see how your business is faring at any given point in time? The Balance Sheet captures the total assets and liabilities of a business as well as any differences between them. This document is used to ensure that your financials are in order, so you'll want to keep this one up-to-date with all transactions.
3. Accounts receivable report
The Accounts Receivable report is an important tool for tracking money owed by customers or clients; it's also very useful for evaluating credit risk when needed. As an accountant, keeping tabs on these documents will help you maintain a better relationship with customers and make sure payments come in on time.
4. Cash fow statement
The Cash Flow Statement is a summary of all cash inflows and outflows from your business. It's essential for understanding liquidity, which can help you determine the financial health of your small business.
5. Business plan
If you're looking to secure investments or loans, having a well-written business plan is key. It should include details about the company’s mission and objectives as well as strategies for achieving them. Ideally, this document will provide investors with an overview of where their money is going and make sure that everyone’s on the same page financially.
6. Purchase approval form
The Purchase Approval Form documents the amount of money being spent on a purchase, who authorized it, and why. You'll feel the absence of this particular form if you ever need to trace an error back to its origin; it'll also help you keep track of who's spending what and for what reason.
7. Daily inventory form
Many small businesses have an inventory that fluctuates from day to day. The Daily Inventory Form captures the details of what's being bought and sold, so you can ensure that your records are always up-to-date.
8. Credit card payment form
What happens if one of your clients or employees needs to change their credit card information? To streamline the process, having a Credit Card Payment Form on hand gives clients a quick and easy way to update their payment information.
9. Fuel requisition form
The Fuel Requisition Form allows you to track the amount of fuel being used by your business – which is particularly helpful for those who use a lot of fuel in their operations, like tradespeople and delivery drivers.
10. Client tax information form
Finally, the Client Tax Information Form helps you keep track of your clients' tax details to use when the time comes. This includes their name, address, Social Security number or taxpayer identification number, and any other important data that might be required for filing taxes.
As an accountant, it's essential to have these forms on hand so you can manage your business and stay organized throughout the year. Staying up-to-date with all of these documents will help ensure that everything is running smoothly and accurately – which means better financial health for everyone involved!
Forms for running your own business
It's fairly easy to maintain these forms when you've got an entire accounting department. But what if you're running a one-man show? Which forms are essential for operating your own business?
At a minimum, you'll want to use:
- Recurring invoice forms – to streamline payments from repeat clients
- Cash flow statement – to track liquidity
- Inventory tracking form – to keep tabs on what's coming in and out
- Credit card payment form – so you can update information as needed
- Business plan – for securing investments or loans
- Business expenses form – to track costs and make adjustments to your purchasing habits
- Accounts payable and receivable report – to monitor money owed
By keeping up with these forms, you'll be able to keep your business humming along and make sure it stays on the right track.
Should you use accounting software?
Let's face it – keeping track of all these forms can be a challenge, especially if you're dealing with a lot of different clients and invoices.
That's why many small businesses choose to invest in accounting software. These tools typically have an intuitive dashboard you can use to manage all your accounts, and they come with a variety of templates and forms you can easily fill out.
Using an accounting software solution can help you stay organized and on top of everything without having to manually enter data into each form or document. Plus, most solutions are cloud-based, so you won't have to worry about losing important documents if something happens to your computer.
Our solution, Bonsai, is an all-in-one business management tool that has a specific set of functions for accounting and finance. Handle everything from invoicing to expense tracking and payroll with ease.
Forms are an essential part of any accounting job – and this is especially true for small businesses. By keeping on top of the forms mentioned above, you'll be able to ensure that your business runs smoothly and accurately while still maintaining a high level of efficiency.
Don't forget about our library of accounting form templates here at Bonsai, too. Templates take the grunt work out of document creation and maintenance so you can focus on the important stuff. Happy accounting!