Records are the backbone of a sustainable, successful business. But how do you know what to keep and for how long? Do not despair, we have the answers.
How well-kept are you records?
Check the quality of your business's recordkeeping by ticking off the following list, devised by US-based Alberta First, an industry partnership that supports new businesses:
- Are your personal and business financial affairs clearly separate?
- Does your bookkeeping system meet the needs of your accountant?
- Can you easily track your business's money and its financial performance?
- Are your records up to date?
- Does your accountant spend more time on your financial statements and tax returns, rather than on basic bookkeeping?
- Does your daily cash sheet usually balance without major discrepancies?
- Can you easily access information on money you owe and money owed to you?
- Do you reconcile your bank account at least once a month?
- Do you file copies of all your sales invoices?
- Do you keep a file of all invoices and bills that are paid?
- Does your payroll system work well?
- Are you remitting payroll deductions to the tax authorities on time?
- Do you keep business safety records and customer service records?
- Do you have a clear idea of how much inventory you have on hand?
What to keep - and for how long
Annual financial statements, tax returns/ assessments, payments made on behalf of personnel, stop orders, Companies Act returns, memoranda and articles of association, special resolutions, minute books, register of company directors/officers, register of directors' interests, register of members, documentation on members' interests, dividend schedules, property ownership titles, prospecting agreements, participation and joint venture agreements, insurance agreements, mining authorisations, trust deeds, personnel benefits.
Bank statements, vouchers, cashbooks, cheques and cheque requisitions, creditors' invoices/ statements, deposit slips, fixed assets register, journal reports, general financial files, petty cash vouchers, sales invoices, confidentiality agreements, leases, guarantees/surety, appointment agreements (eg, auditors, professional advisors), financial services/banking agreements, cession/assignment agreements, supply agreements, loan agreements, permits and authorisations.
General ledger reports, employment contracts, general personnel files and personnel loan records.
Payrolls/salary and wage registers.
Creditors' ledger, debtors' ledger, vouchers journal, petty cash book, other internal financial documentation, offers of employment, leave forms, increment schedules (personnel), attendance registers, general records and correspondence.
Cheque stubs (after annual audit).