Many small businesses are not familiar with the distinction between bookkeeping and accounting. There are some significant differences, though, and knowing what they are will allow you to employ the best of each to aid your business. It will also allow you to properly set your expectations for what each can contribute.

Which Do You Need for Your Small Business?

Many small businesses are not familiar with the distinction between bookkeeping and accounting. There are some significant differences, though, and knowing what they are will allow you to employ the best of each to aid your business. It will also allow you to properly set your expectations for what each can contribute.

So, what are the differences?

Many people use the terms Accounting and Bookkeeping interchangeably. That is not completely incorrect, but there are some important distinctions. Bookkeepers do just what their name implies, they keep the books–they pay invoices, collect receivables and receipts, make deposits, and more. Whereas an accountant’s function is less about the day to day balance sheets, and more about the overall financial health of the company–performing audits, producing financial reports, optimizing revenue and reducing expenses, and advising management on financial matters.

Bookkeepers typically manage the daily financial transactions (accounts receivable and payable management (invoicing), bank reconciliations, expenses and petty cash management, production of financial statements (including cash flow, income statement, and balance sheet), payroll processing, and are in charge of preparing the accounts, and producing preliminary accounts at the end of the month). Skilled bookkeepers will usually advise clients on record keeping requirements and methods, cash flow forecasting management and general record keeping.

Accountants generally have a broader purview than bookkeepers, they take more of a consulting position with business owners. Accountants use the financial statements created by the bookkeeper to provide  financial statements and reports that are required by banks and governmental agencies. They additionally provide monthly or quarterly insight into the health of the business. Accountants will use the financial statements prepared by the bookkeeper to provide insight into the company and create plans to help their client grow their business. CPA are certified public accountants, that are regulated by their state board accountancy. They are required to meet the annual minimum educational and experience requirements, which ensures they stay informed on the new laws and regulations. Accountants will also verify the accuracy and completeness of the accounting records, income tax planning, and offer advice on tax law, entity structure, and key financial decisions.

To be able to completely represent their clients, accountants and bookkeepers typically work closely together.

The shifting of roles between bookkeeping and accounting

As innovation has changed the way we operate, we have likewise seen a shift in the bookkeeping and accounting industry. Automation has significantly simplified the bookkeeping functions inside accounting software.This has liberated bookkeepers from much of the conventional work of data entry, enabling them to move into more of an advisory role.

Bookkeepers are now spending more time training on a range of solutions, growing the choices for accounting resources and other financial applications at a fast pace. Their aim is to be able to recommend the right “technology stack” for the varying needs of their customers. In addition to calling themselves bookkeepers, many bookkeepers now refer to themselves as “technology experts.” 

Accountants are taking innovative approaches to serve their consumers as well. Tax resolution has become a common subject for many accountants as the tax system becomes more complex and sophisticated. Often, being that accountants are generally well versed in the personal financial condition of their consumers as well as their company, some become tax coaches and qualified financial planners. These fields of specialization help accountants to provide their customers with advanced business tax plans, so that customers can hold on to more of their hard-earned dollars.

So how do bookkeeping and accounting overlap?

Both bookkeepers and accountants offer their clients strategic advice. 

A bookkeeper may tell you how to streamline the accounting processes or help you build a company budget, while an accountant may recommend ways to reduce your tax liability or help you determine whether to integrate your company. Bookkeepers support clients with the particulars of day-to-day business activities, while the accountant or CPA is broader and more focused on big picture goals.

Some jurisdictions have started to limit who can label themselves an accountant as the distinction between bookkeeping vs. accounting has become less clear. In certain states, in order to refer to themselves as accountants, a person has to be a CPA (certified public accountant). In certain jurisdictions, though, the word “accountant” or “accounting” needs no training or credential. Thus, it is necessary to ask the provider of financial services what positions they can fill for you.

Still struggling to understand the difference between what the job of an account is vs. a bookkeeper?

Let us break it down and look at the roles they each play in the financial year:

Income/Accounts Receivable:
The client makes his or her own calculations and invoices, then collects refunds against those invoices. In their accounting scheme, the bookkeeper balances the accounts, so that the business records accurately reflect the bank balance at the end of the month. 

Expenses/Accounts Payable:
A cash flow program may be used by the bookkeeper to handle all vendor payments of an organization. When the vendors email or fax their bills directly to the client’s account, the bookkeeper is notified and then assigns the correct vendor, expense category, and client as an approver.

The client gets informed, then checks the vendor bill and accepts it for payment. Then, the bookkeeper pays the vendor bill, which syncs the bill and bill payment to their accounting program. As they do for withdrawals, the bookkeeper will  match the income and receivables with the bank statements.

Accounts Reconciliation:
Bookkeepers match purchases in their accounting tools against transactions flowing in from the bank feed as the month goes forward. For transactions created outside their accounting software (such as debit transactions, miscellaneous checks, and credit card transactions), bookkeepers add them by assigning payees and/or cost categories as they come in from the bank feed. Bookkeepers collect the customer’s bank / credit card receipts at the end of the month and reconcile each record

Throughout the Year:
To ensure that all expected payments are to be charged, the accountant may check interim financial statements periodically. They can make monthly or quarterly depreciation changes or pay out any prepaid liabilities, such as insurance. In addition , in some cases, they could provide verified financial records

Year-End:
Bookkeepers may aid with processing 1099s for contractors towards the end of the year, because if the customer has payroll, bookkeepers can ensure that all the quarterly returns tie up to the W-2s to support the customer plan and issue W-2s. Bookkeepers collaborate alongside the accountant / tax preparer to guarantee that they provide all the documents they need from the corporation of the customer to prepare the annual reports. The CPA schedules the returns, and they can join them at this point if they have not undergone any changes in the year. They would also assess the total fees that the consumer has to spend in the next year and offer all other tax preparation suggestions.

Does your small business need an accountant or bookkeeper?

Any small business should, as soon as they plan to open their business, work with a trained accountant.

Hiring a good accountant will help a small business owner settle on the proper corporate entity, understand the criteria for tax reporting, and give financial guidance to increase income or mitigate their tax liability.

So do you need a bookkeeper or an accountant for your small business?

Many small business owners struggle to understand the responsibilities of an accountant and bookkeeper and will just have them both. However, when starting a business the owner can efficiently fill the role of a bookkeeper and consider hiring a bookkeeper as the business grows. The bookkeeper compiles the financial data, and manages the day to day transactions, and looks out for changes or financial events that need to be addressed. At the start of your business you will probably be able to do it yourself, considering that your business is still new and small, this will make sure that you understand the financial processes and operations of your business.

However, it is vital to consult with an accountant, especially at the start of your business. This may seem costly at the start of your business, but look at it as investing in good advice, this can be very valuable in the early days, and save you time, energy and money in the long run. This will help you understand your financial structure and responsibilities for your business. They will also help you pick out the correct corporate structure for your business. Also, when filing taxes it is important that you have them reviewed by an accountant, they will ensure that you are filing correctly and not overpaying. It is best when starting a company to be on top of your financials, and doing the bookkeeping for your business will help you achieve that. If you have any questions regarding the financial data you collected an accountant can help you make sense of it, and provide recommendations.

In Summary

When you have a complete understanding of your accounts, it enables your business to perform well, and bookkeepers and accountants each look at the figures of an organization from different perspectives. The advice of both a bookkeeper and an accountant will ensure that you get the right advice for your business. You get a balanced view of your finances from the viewpoints of each, which helps to put your mind at ease and devote your energy to do what you enjoy, operating your company.

There is a form of business loan called equipment financing, primarily for the purpose of buying new or used equipment such as automobiles, machinery, or technology. You will obtain loans for products comparable to up to 100% of the price of the equipment you are trying to acquire. Over time, these loans are then paid back with interest.

There is a form of business loan called equipment financing, primarily for the purpose of buying new or used equipment such as automobiles, machinery, or technology. You will obtain loans for products comparable to up to 100% of the price of the equipment you are trying to acquire. Over time, these loans are then paid back with interest.

The financing of business equipment, comparable to invoice financing, is a type of asset-based financing in which the equipment itself functions as security for the loan. For this purpose, lending for machinery is also cheaper than other forms of small business loans to apply for. For entrepreneurs, or firms with mediocre or low credit ratings, equipment loans may be perfect choices along these lines.

So how does equipment financing work?

Usually, the financing of machinery performs similarly to a business term loan. For the purpose of buying fresh or used business supplies, you take out a loan and pay it with fixed payments back over a set period of time.

As we mentioned above, the amount of money you may receive can equal up to 100% of the value of the equipment you are trying to acquire. Although the amount can differ, based on the quality and nature of the equipment, as well as the lender and your company credentials. Business equipment financing is a type of asset-based financing, implying that the equipment itself is used to back up or secure the loan. Generally speaking, this suggests that you may not have to offer up additional collateral and you will not be required tto sign a personal guarantee.

However you will be expected to have a down payment of 10% to 25% of the equipment funded by you. The higher your down payment, the lower the interest rates you are likely to receive. Overall, equipment financing rates will typically vary from 4% to 40%, depending, of course, on the lender, the qualifications of your company, and the equipment you are buying. Keeping this in mind, the terms of repayment on financing equipment are normally five or six years, but certain lenders may provide longer terms, up to 10 years. In addition, some lenders will focus the repayment conditions on the equipment’s projected lifespan, but they are also entitled to claim their loss if you default on the loan and they have the ability to seize the equipment and liquidate, or sell, it.

Equipment Financing vs. Equipment Leasing

It is important to distinguish the difference between equipment financing and equipment leasing in order to understand how equipment financing works. While there are some subtle differences between the two, the primary differentiation is that you own the equipment at the end of your repayment period with an equipment loan. With equipment leasing, on the other hand, at the end of the term, you do not own the equipment. Alternatively, you have the option to purchase the machinery directly, or enter into a new lease for the machinery you need, similar to leasing a car. Generally, in the long run, equipment leasing is more costly than equipment financing.

Pros and Cons of Business Equipment Financing

When it comes to it there is no question that equipment finance is a great choice if you are searching for funds to buy equipment for your business. This method of finance will also provide the most ideal rates and requirements for equipment-specific financing. However, equipment financing might not necessarily be the perfect option for every business and circumstance. We will go through all the pros and cons of equipment financing in order to help you decide whether it is right for your needs or not.

PROS

  • Fast funding for equipment purchases: Although it can take weeks or months to finance certain other forms of business loans (such as bank and SBA loans), equipment loans are usually considered a very quick method of financing.
  • Equipment itself functions as debt collateral: One of the greatest advantages of loans for equipment is that they are self-collateralizing. Therefore the machinery itself secures the debt instead of needing to offer up real estate or other commercial properties as leverage. In addition, you will also be able to negotiate with the provider to avoid signing a personal pledge on the loan since the machinery itself acts as collateral.
  • Easier criteria for qualification: relative to other forms of business loans, machinery finance is far easier to qualify for. This is why loans for machinery are a perfect choice for start-ups or firms with poor credit score. Generally, since the machinery secures the debt, lenders are also able to partner for firms with lower credentials, rendering it less expensive for lenders owing to the self-securing aspect of business equipment lending. In addition, most machinery lenders submit to company credit bureaus your payment background, and ensuring on-time payments can boost your credit history and make it easier for you to apply for more loans in the future, which is especially useful for newer firms and firms with bad credit.
  • Affordable interest rates: Machinery funding rates usually vary from 4% to 40%. Even Though the interest rates do vary, they are generally affordable. You can earn rates that are comparable to bank or SBA loans if you slip into the lower end of the interest rate spectrum. In addition, by having the Section 179 corporation tax deduction, you will be able to save more money on the expense of your supplies and your income.
  • Limited documents and fast application process: funding of business machinery is accessible from both banks and alternative lenders. As you would imagine, there would be the quickest and more streamlined processes for new internet lenders, but in general, applying for equipment financing is a quick and easy procedure. Again since lenders are not as concerned with the credentials of your company, you would typically find minimal criteria for paperwork, especially relative to other forms of financing.

CONS

  • By the time the loan is fully repaid, equipment could be obsolete: Simply the biggest downside to business equipment financing is that by the time you have repaid the loan and you own the equipment, the equipment could be outdated or obsolete. This is one of the explanations why as we described above, certain business owners opt for machinery leasing instead of financing. Furthermore, it is important to remember that you do not own the machinery until you have paid off the loan.
  • A down payment may be required: In some cases, you will need to put down 10% to 25% of the value of the equipment to access funding. It may be more difficult for you to get equipment financing if your company does not have the money required for the down payment. If your down payment just meets the criteria of what is required, this might increase your interest rates.
  • Applicable only to companies that need to buy equipment: equipment loans are of course, a very specific type of financing that meets a very specific need. Therefore you will have to explore your other options if you need financing for another business purpose.

Equipment Loans for Startups

For several start-up firms, equipment finance, as we have described, is a worthwhile choice, as these loans are simpler to apply for relative to other forms of business loans. Again in order to be eligible to obtain equipment loans, with the equipment acting as collateral on the loan, you do not actually require several years in company or excellent finances.

Of course, for all of these loans, it is necessary to note that you are more likely to encounter higher interest rates relative to older firms. However, that being said, the stronger your company’s financial statements are the more freedom you would have to negotiate with the investor as a start-up to access the most ideal costs and terms.

Who Qualifies for Equipment Financing?

Many organizations may qualify for machinery finance loans. How much you qualify for and the interest rate you would pay depends on the size of the equipment, the financial background of the company, and your credit score. However, if the credit record is less than stellar, equipment finance may be an amazing choice, as the equipment serves as collateral.

In reality, lenders of equipment are only as concerned about what is securing their loan as with your history of borrowing. So if you are looking to spend your small business equipment loan in a high-value (and value-retaining) piece of equipment, then equipment lenders might be able to partner with you even if your finances are not flawless.

How To Get Financing for Equipment

So if you think one of these top loan choices for equipment could be right for your business, you might be wondering how to actually get the funding you need.

So if you think one of these top loan choices for equipment could be right for your business, you might be wondering how to actually get the funding you need.

Find the equipment you would like to buy: Identifying and selecting the piece of equipment you would like to buy is the first prerequisite for getting equipment financing. Many lenders will request that you give an equipment quote in the application form, as well as information regarding the equipment and its state. It is important to know as much as possible about the equipment you want to purchase.
Test your qualifications: You will be able to start looking at your choices and deciding where you would be able to apply after you have completed the required homework on the equipment you will like to buy.

As seen above, the basic conditions you would need to fulfill to apply for the funding of business equipment will differ depending on the provider, but criteria (annual salary, period in business, credit score) would normally be far more versatile relative to other forms of loans. However, with this in mind, the stronger your financial statements are, the more likely you would be to access the most ideal rates and conditions.

Complete your application: Eventually, you will be able to plan and apply your loan application after you have assessed your credentials and qualifications and then you can decide which lenders are the right choices for your firm.

Usually, very simply and conveniently, you would be able to complete your machinery loan application online. Financing of machinery typically requires limited paperwork and a simplified method of application. However, this being said you should expect to provide any if not any of the following:

  • Driver’s license
  • Voided business check
  • Bank statements
  • Credit score
  • Business tax returns
  • Equipment quote

Online lenders will typically process and finance applications for business equipment funding in only a few days, often quicker. On the other side, if you qualify for a machinery loan from a branch, you will typically have a longer period to finance it.

Undoubtedly, you will want to review options with different lenders and guarantee that you receive the strongest, most favorable rate for your company before you sign an equipment loan agreement and enter the closing process.

In Summary

Equipment finance is a perfect option for financing sales of company equipment. Although some forms of loans may be used to fund these transactions, equipment-specific lending mostly comes with competitive rates, adjustable conditions, and rapid financing periods. In addition, equipment loans are far more available to start-ups and companies with poor credit as a self-collateralizing source of funding.

However, that being said, equipment finance would not be correct for any company especially if you are a highly qualified company who can reach much lower rates through a long-term bank or SBA loan. Ultimately, however, to find what is right fit your business needs, you will want to take the time to analyze and evaluate all of your business loan choices.