Tally Automation
Sep 11, 2023

Bookkeeping vs. Accounting: What's The Difference?

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Ankit Virani

CEO

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Having a team of people handling clients and accountants across  Bharat, we at Suvit, know the confusion that can arise between a bookkeeper and an accountant. 

When it's time to decide between getting help with bookkeeping or accounting, many small and medium-sized business leaders feel like they're standing at a crossroads, not knowing which way to go.

Thus, in this blog, we're going to talk about the differences between bookkeeping and accounting. We'll explain what a bookkeeper and an accountant do. With this information, you'll be in a better position to make smart choices that suit your business's unique financial needs. 

So, let's start this financial journey together!

What is Bookkeeping?

Bookkeeping is the process of recording and classifying financial transactions. It involves keeping track of all the money that comes in and goes out of a business, as well as the assets and liabilities of the business. Bookkeeping is the foundation of accounting, and it provides the raw data that accountants use to create financial reports.

What Do Bookkeepers Do?

The specific duties of a bookkeeper can vary depending on the size and complexity of the business they work for. However, some common duties of bookkeepers include:

  • Recording financial transactions in ledgers and journals
  • Preparing financial statements, such as the balance sheet and income statement
  • Reconciling bank statements
  • Paying bills
  • Filing taxes
  • Preparing reports for management
  • Ensuring compliance with accounting standards

The Importance of Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is an essential part of running a successful business. By keeping accurate financial records, bookkeepers help businesses to track their financial performance, identify areas where they can save money, and make informed business decisions. Bookkeepers also play an important role in ensuring that businesses comply with accounting standards and tax laws.

The Skills and Qualifications of a Bookkeeper

To be successful as a bookkeeper, you need to have a strong understanding of accounting principles and practices. You should also be proficient in using accounting software and have excellent organizational and time management skills. In addition, bookkeepers should be able to work independently and as part of a team.

Example: A Peek into Bookkeeping

Let's take a closer look at how bookkeeping works with an example:

Imagine you run a stationery store.

  • Daily Earnings: Every evening, after a day of selling pens, notebooks, and various stationery, you sit down with your ledger. You carefully jot down how much you earned during the day, listing each item sold and its price.
  • Tracking Expenses: Simultaneously, you track your expenditures. You record the amount spent on restocking your inventory, paying your monthly rent, and covering those electricity bills that keep the lights on in your store.
  • Creating a Financial Diary: Over time, your ledger transforms into a financial diary, painting a clear picture of your income and expenses. This detailed list of financial transactions is your bookkeeping.

What is Accounting?

Accounting is the process of summarizing, analyzing, and interpreting financial data. It takes the information from the bookkeeping records and uses it to create financial statements, such as the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement. Accounting also involves preparing tax returns and providing financial advice to businesses and individuals.

What Do Accountants Do?

The specific duties of an accountant can vary depending on their job title and the type of organization they work for. However, some common duties of accountants include:

  • Preparing financial statements, such as the balance sheet and income statement
  • Analyzing financial data to identify trends and make recommendations for improvement
  • Preparing tax returns
  • Auditing financial records to ensure accuracy and compliance with regulations
  • Advising clients on financial matters, such as investment planning and budgeting

Utilizing accounting automation tools to make the data entry process easier

The Different Types of Accountants

There are many different types of accountants, each with their own specialized skills and knowledge. Some of the most common types of accountants include:

  • Public accountants work for accounting firms and provide a variety of accounting services to businesses and individuals.
  • Private accountants work for businesses and organizations and are responsible for the day-to-day accounting tasks, such as recording financial transactions and preparing financial statements.
  • Government accountants work for government agencies and are responsible for tracking and managing government spending.
  • Auditors are responsible for examining financial records to ensure accuracy and compliance with regulations.
  • Tax accountants specialize in preparing tax returns and advising clients on tax planning.

The Importance of Accountants

Accountants play an essential role in the financial world. They help businesses and individuals to track their financial performance, identify areas where they can save money, and make informed financial decisions. Accountants also play an important role in ensuring that businesses comply with accounting standards and tax laws.

The Skills and Qualifications of an Accountant

To be successful as an accountant, you need to have a strong understanding of accounting principles and practices. You should also be proficient in using accounting software and have excellent analytical and problem-solving skills. In addition, accountants should be able to communicate effectively with clients and other stakeholders.

Example: A Peek into Accounting 

Let's keep our stationery store example going to understand accounting better:

Imagine you want to know if your store is making profits or suffering losses. This is where an accountant comes in. They take all the records from your trusty bookkeeper and start crunching numbers.

  • Calculating Income and Expenses: Accountants are like expert mathematicians. They add up all the money you earn from selling pens, notebooks, and stationery goodies. Then, they subtract all the expenses, like rent and bills, to figure out if you're making more money than you're spending.
  • In the Green or in the Red?: After doing all the math, the accountant tells you whether your store is in profit or loss.

Difference Between Bookkeeping and Accounting

AspectBookkeepingAccounting
Primary FunctionRecording financial transactions.Analyzing and interpreting financial transactions.
ScopeFocuses on daily financial activitiesTakes a broader view of financial data and trends.
ResponsibilitiesRecords transactions systematically.Prepares financial statements and analyzes data.
Reports GeneratedGenerates basic reports like cash flow statements and balance sheets.Produces detailed financial statements, income statements, and forecasts.
Educational RequirementTypically requires less formal education.Often requires higher qualifications like Chartered Accountancy (CA) in Bharat.
Regulatory ComplianceLess concerned with tax laws and regulations.Deals with tax laws, compliance, and financial regulations.
ExampleRecording daily sales, expenses, and payments in a stationary store.Analyzing the store's financial health to determine if it's making a profit or a loss.

Bookkeeping is like keeping a detailed diary of your daily financial activities, such as writing down what you spend and earn. It's all about recording transactions accurately and systematically. Bookkeepers create basic reports like cash flow statements to keep things organized.

On the other hand, accounting takes a broader view of your finances. Accountants use the information from the bookkeepers to prepare more advanced reports like income statements and forecasts. They analyze trends and help you make smart financial decisions.

When it comes to education, bookkeepers usually don't need as much formal training as accountants. Accountants often have higher qualifications, like Chartered Accountancy (CA), and they deal with tax laws and financial regulations.

How to decide if you need a bookkeeper or accountant

Making the choice between a bookkeeper and an accountant depends on your specific financial needs and the size and complexity of your business. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you decide:

1. Business Size and Complexity

The first step is to evaluate the size and complexity of your business operations. Consider the following factors:

  • Business Size: Are you a small startup, a medium-sized business, or a large corporation?
  • Transaction Volume: How many financial transactions does your business handle daily, weekly, or monthly?
  • Industry Specifics: Does your industry involve complex financial regulations or tax requirements?

2. Define Your Financial Goals and Needs

Next, identify your financial goals and the specific services you require:

  • Basic Record-Keeping: If you need help with recording daily transactions and maintaining organized financial records, a bookkeeper is the right choice.
  • Financial Analysis: If you require in-depth financial analysis, forecasting, tax planning, and compliance with complex regulations, you'll likely benefit from an accountant's expertise.

3. Consider Your Budget

Think about your budget and financial resources:

  • Cost-Effective Option: Bookkeepers typically charge lower rates compared to accountants, making them a more budget-friendly option for small businesses with limited resources.
  • Long-Term Strategy: If your budget allows for it, investing in an accountant may provide valuable long-term financial planning and strategic insights.

4. Evaluate Your Time and Expertise

Reflect on your own time availability and financial knowledge:

  • Time Constraints: If you're short on time and need to focus on other aspects of your business, outsourcing financial tasks to a bookkeeper or accountant can save you valuable hours.
  • Financial Expertise: Assess your own financial knowledge; if you lack expertise in complex financial matters, seeking professional help is a wise choice.

5. Determine the Level of Regulatory Compliance

Consider the level of regulatory compliance required for your business:

  • Simple Transactions: If your business involves straightforward transactions with minimal regulatory requirements, a bookkeeper may suffice.
  • Complex Tasks: For businesses subject to intricate tax laws and regulations, an accountant's in-depth knowledge is invaluable.

Simplify Your Finances with Accounting Automation

Accounting automation can make life easier for both bookkeepers and accountants while helping your business run smoother. Let's see how it works and why you might want to consider it:

What is Accounting Automation?

Accounting automation is the use of software to automate the processes and procedures of accounting. It is a way of improving efficiency and accuracy, while making sure that all aspects of the business are being looked after. Accounting automation can be used for:

  • Records storage: Accounting automation can help to store financial records securely and efficiently.
  • Invoice creation: Accounting automation can help to create invoices quickly and easily.
  • Invoice processing: Accounting automation can help to process invoices accurately and efficiently.
  • Invoice payouts: Accounting automation can help to pay invoices on time and in full.
  • Audit preparation: Accounting automation can help to prepare for audits by providing accurate and up-to-date financial data.
  • Budgeting and forecasting: Accounting automation can help to create budgets and forecasts more easily and accurately.

Accounting automation can benefit businesses of all sizes. It can help to save time and money, improve accuracy, and free up accountants and bookkeepers to focus on more strategic tasks.

Here are some of the benefits of accounting automation:
  • Increased efficiency: Accounting automation can help to automate repetitive tasks, such as data entry and invoice processing. This can free up accountants and bookkeepers to focus on more strategic tasks.
  • Improved accuracy: Accounting automation can help to reduce human errors, which can lead to financial losses.
  • Reduced costs: Accounting automation can help to reduce the need for manual labour, which can save businesses money.
  • Improved compliance: Accounting automation can help businesses comply with accounting standards and regulations.
  • Increased visibility: Accounting automation can help businesses get a better understanding of their financial data. This can help them to make better financial decisions.

How to Get Started

So, how can you bring this digital magic into your business? Here are some steps:

  • Choose the Right Software: Look for accounting software that suits your business needs. There are many options out there, so find one that's user-friendly and fits your budget. Suvit is one great accounting automation tool created especially for businesses in Bharat.
  • Training: Make sure your bookkeeper or accountant gets proper training on the software. It's like teaching them how to use a new tool.
  • Integration: Connect your software with your bank accounts, invoicing systems, and other financial tools. This way, everything works together smoothly.
  • Routine Checks: Even though automation is smart, it's still a good idea to regularly review the results and reports to catch any oddities.

Make Your Accounting Easier!

While you have learnt the differences between bookkeeping and accounting, streamline your financial processes and give your team a helping hand by considering accounting automation! Take the taste of it by taking the free trial of Suvit! Sign up today.

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