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The 8 Most Common Bookkeeping Mistakes Canadian Small Businesses Make and How to Avoid Them Today

Bookkeeping Basics

"Making good judgements when one has complete data, facts and knowledge is not leadership - it's bookkeeping."

For Canadian small business owners, bookkeeping can be a daunting task. It can be especially tricky to keep up with the ever-changing regulations and requirements that come along with it. Making mistakes that are costly or even damaging to your business is an unwelcome possibility. However, understanding common bookkeeping errors and how to avoid them can help you stay on top of your books and make sure your business stays afloat.

Overlooking Deadlines

Overlooking deadlines is a common mistake that small businesses make in bookkeeping. This mistake can be costly as it could result in late fees, penalties, and even legal issues. Small business owners must prioritize their finances and stay on top of important deadlines to avoid these negative outcomes.

One way to avoid missing deadlines is by keeping track of all the tasks that need to be done and when they are due. Creating a schedule or using accounting software, such as Quickbooks Online, with built-in reminders can help ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Additionally, delegating tasks to team members or hiring a professional bookkeeper can take some of the pressure off and ensure that someone is responsible for meeting deadlines.

Ultimately, overlooking deadlines can have serious consequences for small businesses. By making organization a priority and utilizing available resources, small business owners can avoid this costly mistake and keep their financial records up-to-date.

Not Separating Business & Personal Accounts

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Photo by PiggyBank on Unsplash

One of the biggest bookkeeping mistakes small businesses make is not separating business and personal accounts. The line between personal and business expenses can get easily blurred when using a single account. This can cause confusion during tax season, leading to incorrect deductions or overpaying taxes.

Not only does mixing accounts complicate your bookkeeping process, but it also puts you at risk for legal issues. If you’re ever audited by the CRA, they’ll want to see clearly separated accounts. Mixing personal and business expenses raises red flags and increases your chances of being selected for an audit.

To avoid these potential problems, it’s important to open separate bank accounts for your personal and business finances. If your business isn’t incorporated, you don’t need a business bank account but a separate personal account that you use for business is extremely beneficial.

Tangerine makes this easy by allowing you two chequing accounts and multiple savings accounts. The ‘money rules’ feature allows you to automatically transfer a certain amount into a savings account each time money comes into your chequing account. This makes it easy to save for taxes and expenses. Open a Tangerine account with my Orange Key 54023745S1 and get a $50 bonus!

Keep detailed records of all transactions made on each account so that you can track your spending accurately throughout the year. By doing so, you’ll be able to stay organized come tax time and reduce the likelihood of any costly errors or legal issues down the road.

Poor Record Keeping Practices

a pile of old boxes and papers
Photo by Geri Forsaith on Unsplash

Poor record-keeping practices can be detrimental to any small business. It can lead to financial losses, missed tax deductions, and even legal issues. One of the most common mistakes made by small businesses is not keeping track of their expenses properly. This can lead to overpaying taxes and missing out on potential deductions.

Another poor record-keeping practice is failing to separate personal and business finances. This can make it difficult to accurately calculate profits, losses, and expenses for tax purposes. It can also put personal assets at risk in case of a lawsuit or bankruptcy.

Finally, relying solely on paper records can be a major mistake for small businesses in the digital age. Digital records are much easier to manage and organize, reducing the likelihood of errors or lost information. Failure to adopt digital record-keeping practices could put Canadian small businesses at a significant disadvantage compared to competitors who have embraced this technology.

To learn more about digital record keeping read my article 13 Important Reasons to Store Your Small Business Documents Digitally and How to Get Started Today.

Not Tracking Expenses Accurately

One of the biggest bookkeeping mistakes made by Canadian small businesses is not tracking expenses accurately. This can lead to a number of problems down the line, including missed deductions and incorrect financial statements. It’s important for small business owners to develop a system for tracking expenses that work best for their needs.

One way to track expenses accurately is by using accounting software or apps such as QuickBooks, Freshbooks or Wave. These tools can help automate the process of recording transactions and categorizing them correctly. Alternatively, keeping careful records in an Excel spreadsheet or even on paper can also be effective.

By accurately tracking expenses, small business owners can gain insights into their spending habits and make more informed decisions about future investments. Additionally, they’ll have all the information they need at tax time to take advantage of all eligible deductions and avoid any potential issues with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

"Creativity is great, but not in accounting."

Not Managing Accounts Receivable

One of the biggest bookkeeping mistakes that Canadian small businesses make is not properly managing their accounts receivable. This can lead to serious cash flow problems and ultimately, business failure. Failing to follow up on unpaid invoices in a timely manner can result in lost revenue, and customers who regularly pay late can cause significant stress for business owners.

To avoid these issues, it’s important for small businesses to have clear policies and procedures in place regarding invoicing and payment collection. This includes setting payment terms upfront, sending invoices promptly after services are rendered or products are delivered, following up with reminders as necessary, and potentially even offering incentives for early payment. Utilizing accounting software to track receivables can also help ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

Ultimately, effective management of accounts receivable is crucial for any small business looking to maintain a healthy cash flow and avoid financial troubles down the line. By staying on top of invoicing and collections processes, entrepreneurs can better focus on growing their businesses without worrying about unpaid bills piling up.

Not Managing Accounts Payable

Not managing accounts payable is one of the biggest bookkeeping mistakes Canadian small businesses make. Failing to properly manage accounts payable can lead to serious financial problems for a business, as it can result in missed payments, late fees, and even damage to the company’s credit rating. It’s important for small business owners to stay on top of their bills and make sure that all payments are made on time.

One way to avoid this mistake is by implementing an efficient system for managing accounts payable. This could include setting up reminders for bill due dates, creating a schedule for when bills need to be paid, and keeping track of all invoices and receipts. Another important step is to regularly review the accounts payable ledger to ensure that everything is up-to-date and there are no outstanding bills or errors in the system.

Small businesses should also consider automating their accounts payable process. This can be done through accounting software or other tools designed specifically for managing finances. Automation can help save time and reduce errors in the billing process, making it easier for business owners to stay on top of their finances and avoid costly mistakes down the line.

Not Monitoring Cash Flow

Not monitoring cash flow is one of the biggest bookkeeping mistakes Canadian small businesses make. Managing cash flow effectively is crucial for business success, yet many entrepreneurs fail to keep track of their finances properly. This can lead to serious problems down the line, such as an inability to pay bills on time or a lack of funds for future investments.

One reason why small businesses do not monitor their cash flow is that they find it challenging to track expenses and income regularly. However, failing to do so means that they are unable to identify potential issues early on and take corrective action before it’s too late. Another mistake that small businesses make is not having a budget in place for managing expenses and revenue. Without a budget, there’s no way to determine how much money should be allocated toward certain areas of the business or how much revenue needs to be generated each month.

Not monitoring cash flow can be detrimental to any business – big or small. Small businesses need to understand that keeping track of finances regularly isn’t just important but necessary if they want their companies to thrive in today’s competitive market. By setting up a solid accounting system and sticking with it consistently, entrepreneurs can ensure better financial health for their ventures while avoiding costly mistakes along the way.

Not Understanding Tax Requirements

Not understanding tax requirements can lead to legal and financial problems for Canadian small businesses. Some common mistakes include failing to register for a GST/HST account, not charging the correct amount of taxes on sales, and not remitting taxes collected on time. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) imposes penalties and interest charges for late or incorrect filings, which can add up quickly.

To avoid these mistakes, small business owners should educate themselves about their tax obligations. They can consult with a tax professional or use online resources provided by the CRA. It’s important to keep accurate records of all transactions and receipts in case of an audit. In addition, setting aside funds each month for taxes owed can prevent cash flow issues when it’s time to remit payments to the CRA. By taking these steps, small business owners can avoid the stress and financial burden that comes with non-compliance with tax laws in Canada.

Avoid Common Errors

One of the most common errors that small businesses make in bookkeeping is failing to keep proper records. It’s important to keep track of all financial transactions in order to ensure accuracy and prevent errors down the line. This includes keeping receipts, invoices, and bank statements organized and up-to-date.

Another mistake that small business owners often make is confusing personal and business expenses. It’s important to keep these two categories separate in order to accurately account for tax deductions and avoid any legal issues. This means having a designated business bank account and credit card, as well as only using personal funds for truly personal expenses.

Lastly, failing to reconcile accounts regularly can lead to significant errors in bookkeeping. Reconciling involves comparing your records with those of your banks or credit cards, ensuring that they match up correctly. By reconciling on a regular basis (monthly is recommended), you can catch any discrepancies early on and avoid costly mistakes down the line.

That's All Folks...

Thanks for reading! I hope you found this helpful. As always, if you have any questions about bookkeeping or anything small business, comment below or email me at

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