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Small Business Record Keeping

Small Business Record Keeping | Records You Should Be Keeping

As a small business owner, it is important that you practice good small business record keeping.

There is a lot to gain by improving your record keeping system. Having the right records at your disposal will allow you to:

  • Make more informed business decisions
  • Work more efficiently
  • Meet legal and tax requirements
  • Measure past performance and profits
  • Create better reports
  • Protect your rights
  • Manage potential risks

Most small businesses understand the importance of record keeping, but they don’t know what records they need.

So, what is business record keeping?

Business record keeping refers to the collecting and storage of the necessary documents you need to run your business.

This includes some records you need to keep for legal and tax purposes, while others are just good for business and will come in handy with decision making.

By now I’m sure you are wondering; What business records should I be keeping?

To help with your small business record keeping, we will give you a comprehensive overview of the types of records you should be keeping.

What business records should I be keeping?

Being a small business owner can involve dealing with a ton of paperwork. You can’t just throw it all in the bin (no matter how much you want to), but keeping every single thing might not be necessary either. It is important to understand what records you should be keeping – so what records will you need?

More importantly, what records need to be kept for the ATO for a small business?

Basic Records

  • Cash – You need to keep records of your cash receipts and cash payments, such as a cash book or financial accounting program.
  • Bank accounts – Hang on to your bank statements, as well as chequebooks and deposit books if applicable
  • Employment records – You will need to keep detailed records of your employees. Records like hours of work and overtime, superannuation and other benefits, leave, termination of employment, personal details, contact details and employment details.
  • Occupational training records – To comply with work, health and safety laws, you may need to document safety training for evacuation and other emergencies.
  • Sales records – Keep track of your sales with invoice books, receipt books and any other sales records.
  • Proof of purchases – Similarly to sales, keep records of your purchases including small cash purchases, larger purchases, receipts, credit card statements, invoices and other documents.
  • Work, Health and Safety (WHS) records – Record any workplace incidents, risk management plans and any other WHS precautions and documents.


End of Financial Year (EOFY) Records

  • Stock on hand – Details of your inventory at the beginning and end of the financial year
  • Debtors and creditors – A list for the entire financial year
  • Capital gains – Records of increases in assets, sales, commissions and any other records for capital gain or capital loss.
  • Depreciation – Documents to show the cost of depreciating items for your business
  • Expense records – A list of all your expenses
  • Staff and wages – Full details of wages, contracts, tax deducted, superannuation and other important payment documents
  • Basic accounting – Records of your stock records, accounts receivable, accounts payable and other basic accounting
  • Agreements – Legal documents such as sales and purchase contracts, loan agreements and rental agreements
  • Other documents – Deposits with utilities, your business name registration certificate, capital gains records and more.


Legal Records

Depending on your industry, the following may be required:

  • Employee accreditation certificates and licences – Copies of the documents your employees need to do their jobs
  • Employee resumes and job applications – Files your employees send you during the application process
  • Performance reviews – Assessments of staff performance
  • Position statements and job advertisements – Copies of the messages you use in your job ads.
  • Customer records – Personal details, products purchased and enquiries
  • Customer complaints – Records of customer complaints you received and how you responded
  • Details of any disputes with other businesses – Issues you have had with other businesses and how you resolved it
  • Quotes given and won – How long jobs have taken and what tasks they involved, which will also help with future quoting
  • Insurance policies – Make sure your insurance is updated and keep track of your policy.

It is unlikely that all of these records are relevant or even exist for your business, and the legal requirements will be dependant on your industry. However, some of these records may be valuable to you outside of your obligations, so consider how you can improve your small business record keeping to better monitor these performance measures.

How long do you need to keep business records in Australia?

You should be keeping these records for at least 5 years to be safe, longer for capital gains events.

Being a small business owner is hard enough without having to spend hours dealing with your business records and managing record keeping risks. Check out our article below to see how you can spend less time on paperwork and more time on growing your business!

Check out this article: Effortless Bookkeeping Tips for Small Businesses

Having these records available should mean you have the essentials to run your business and are ready for tax time or even a call from the ATO! The list of small business records you should be keeping can be quite daunting, especially if you are only just starting out.

If you need help figuring out what records you should be keeping, or you’d like us to show you how to make record keeping easier, book a free consultation!