General Questions

What Is a Provision in Accounting?

The term “provision” is used extensively in financial accounting activities. Business owners, for example, often use provisions to better predict their future profits. To effectively use provisions, though, you must first familiarize yourself with this term and what it means.

Overview of Provisions

In accounting, a provision is a record of a probable liability in the future. If you believe your business will owe money in the future, you can record it as a provision. At the same time, you can go ahead and set aside money to cover the liability if it occurs.

Like conventional liabilities, provisions are recorded on a balance sheet. They are placed alongside other liabilities and assets, allowing businesses to better forecast their future profits.

You can think of a provision as a liability in which neither the amount nor due date are certain.

Provisions can be defined by the following characteristics:

  • Financial obligation from a previous sale or transaction
  • Probability that the business will owe money for the sale or transaction at a future date
  • The business can make a reliable estimate regarding the amount of the future liability
  • The business accepts the financial obligation to cover the future liability

The Purpose of Provisions

The reason business owners use provisions is to predict their future prospects with greater accuracy. Without provisions, business owners may overlook future liabilities if they don’t know the details about those liabilities. And if they don’t record these future liabilities on their balance sheet, business owners could be hit with unforeseen expenses that hurts their ability to grow their organization. Provisions allow business owners to keep a detailed record of all their liabilities, including probable future liabilities.

Provision vs Accrued Expense: What’s the Difference?

Some business owners assume that provisions are the same as accrued expenses, but this isn’t necessarily true. Accrued expenses are expenses that a business has incurred but hasn’t paid, whereas provisions are probable liabilities in the future. Therefore, the difference between these two accounting terms is that accrued expenses have already been incurred, while provisions have not been incurred.

To recap, a provision is a probable future liability that’s recorded on a business’s balance sheet. It’s used to better predict a business’s financial health by ensuring that uncertain liabilities are accounted for. Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of provisions and how they are used.

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What Is Gross Margin in Accounting?

Keeping track of your business’s gross margins is essential to its long-term success. It reflects your business’s profit potential, so the higher your gross margin, the more profit you generate per sale. As a business owner, though, you might be wondering why exactly gross margin is important as well as how to calculate it.

A General Overview of Gross Margin

The term “gross margin” refers to your business’s net sales minus your business’s cost of goods sold (COGS) and divided by your business’s total revenue. In other words, it’s a measurement of how much profit your business generates. The key difference between gross margin and profit margin is that the former is expressed as a percentage, whereas the latter is expressed as a dollar amount. Other than this subtle nuance, both financial terms refer to profit.

How to Calculate Gross Margin

To calculate gross margin, take your business gross profits and divide it by your business’s revenue. You can then convert this figure into a percentage by multiplying it by 100.

Let’s say your business generates $100,000 in total sales revenue and spends $30,000 on COGS-related expenses like product manufacturing and employee payroll. You can calculate gross margin by taking $100,000 and subtracting it by $30,000, which equals $70,000. Next, you’ll need to divide $70,000 by $100,000, which equals $0.70, followed by multiplying that number by 100, which equals 70. Under this example, your business’s gross margin would be 70%.

Keep in mind that some businesses may have a negative gross margin. When this occurs, it means your business’s COGS exceeds its profits. It’s a troubling a sign that can hinder your business’s ability to grow or even remain operational. By calculating your business’s gross margin, though, you can make the necessary changes to prevent this from happening.

Assuming you use Quickbooks to keep track of your business’s financial transactions, you can automatically calculate gross margin within your Quickbooks account. In the Profit & Loss report, click the menu next to “Period to compare,” at which point you can select the option for “% of Income.” When you run a report using these settings, it will show a percentage for all values, including gross margin.

To recap, gross margin is a general overview of your business’s profits. It reveals the value of incremental sales, allowing you to see how much profit you earn after accounting for COGS.

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5 Things to Consider When Hiring a CPA for Your Business

Are you thinking about hiring to a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to track your business’s financial transactions? Statistics show there are now over 650,000 licensed CPAs in the United States. But you shouldn’t choose just any CPA to handle your business’s accounting. Rather, you should consider the five following things when hiring a CPA.

#1) Certification

First and foremost, make sure the CPA is actually a CPA and not just an accountant. While requirements vary from state to state, most places require CPAs to have 150 semesters of college education, one year of accountant-related experience and pass an exam known as the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. As a result, CPAs have the knowledge and skills needed to help your business succeed.

#2) Location

In addition to certification, you should also consider a CPA’s location. If a CPA is located 100 miles away from your business, you probably won’t see him or her very often if at all. The CPA may still offer his or her services to your business, but all communications will be conducted either by phone or over the internet. And depending on the nature of your business, the lack of face-to-face meetings could increase the risk of accounting errors. Therefore, it’s a good idea to hire a CPA who’s located within a reasonable driving distance from your business.

#3) IRS Representation

Hopefully, this doesn’t happen to your business, but it’s a good idea to have a CPA who will represent you if your business is audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If a CPA isn’t willing to represent you, it’s probably best to look elsewhere.

#4) Software Used

What type of accounting software does the CPA use? Some CPAs will only use their software, whereas others are willing to use your business’s software. If you use Quickbooks Desktop, for example, you can create an accountant’s copy. With an accountant’s copy, you can work on your business’s books simultaneously with your CPA.

#5) Fees

Of course, you should consider a CPA’s fees and whether they are aligned with your business’s budget. Although there are exceptions, most CPAs charge either a flat fee or a per-hour fee. A typical flat fee charged by a CPA for an itemized tax return is about $300 to $400. If a CPA charges by the hour, you can expect to pay around $50 to $150 per hour of accounting work.

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The 3 Primary Sections of a Cash Flow Statement

A cash flow statement is an essential accounting document that’s used to measure a business’s incoming and outgoing cash. More specifically, it reveals changes in a business’s balance sheet that affect the business’s cash (and cash equivalents). While there are different ways to structure a cash flow statement, however, most consist of three primary sections. As a business owner, you should familiarize yourself with the various sections of a cash flow statement to take advantage of this accounting document.

#1) Investing Activities

The “investing activities” section of a cash flow statement represents the incoming and outgoing cash from investment-related tasks. This includes the purchase or sale of real property, loans given to customers or vendors, and payment associated with corporate acquisitions. Investing activities typically won’t affect your business’s cash flow as much as operating and financing activities, but they can still influence your business’s incoming and outgoing cash. Therefore, you should track them using the “investing activities” section of a cash flow statement.

#2) Operating Activities

The “operating activities” section of a cash flow statement is where you’ll record most of your business’s incoming and outgoing cash. Examples of operating activities to record in this section include payments to vendors, payments to employees, product or service sales and more.

#3) Financing Activities

Finally, the “financing activities” statement of a cash flow statement reflects incoming and outgoing cash associated with raising capital to run your business. Most businesses require at least some capital to get up and running. And even after a business is up and running, it may still need regular funding to sustain its operations. If your business borrows money or funds, you’ll need to record these transactions in the “financing activities” section of a cash flow statement.

Cash Flow vs Profits: What’s the Difference?

It’s important to note that cash flow isn’t the same as profits. While similar, each concept has a unique meaning. Profit, for example, is defined as the difference between a business’s revenue and its expenses over a specified period of time, whereas cash flow is the movement of all incoming and outgoing cash.

By keeping a cash flow statement, you’ll have a better understanding of your business’s financial efficiency. If your business isn’t efficient at spending money to make money, it will struggle to succeed. The first step to improving your business’s financial efficiency, however, is to create and use a cash flow statement.

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Are Business Cards Still Useful?

If you operate a small business, you might be wondering whether you should invest in a set of business cards. With the advent of the internet and digital media, paper-based business cards have become less common. As a result, some business owners assume they are no longer useful or relevant. While business cards aren’t as popular as they were several decades ago, however, they can still help your business in several ways.

You Can Hand Them to Potential Customers in Person

When you encounter a potential customer who’s contemplating purchasing your small business’s products or services, you can give him or her one of your business cards. Not everyone owns a smartphone. And if a potential customer doesn’t have a mobile device, he or she may not remember your small business’s name or contact information. A simple solution is to give potential customers a business card.

They Project Credibility

Business cards also project credibility. Customers and potential customers will view your small business as being more credible than its competitors if you give them a business card. You can create custom business cards using your small business’s logo, color scheme and other visual brand elements. Upon seeing this highly professional design, customers and potential customers will feel confident knowing that your small business is credible and legitimate.

Educates Potential Customers About Your Business

Business cards can contain more than just your small business’s name; they can include other relevant information such as your small business’s photo number, address, email address, website address and hours of operation. As a result, they are highly useful for educating potential customers about your small business.

You Can Leave Them Behind

A benefit of using business cards that’s often overlooked is the fact that you can leave them behind. Many restaurants, for example, hold giveaway drawings using business cards left by their customers. If you dine at one of these restaurants, you can place your business card in a jar for a chance to win a prize. Most importantly, though, other patrons may see your business card inside the jar, thereby giving your small business additional exposure.

They Are Inexpensive

Finally, business cards are relatively inexpensive, so they won’t hurt your small business’s finances. You can often purchase up to 500 custom business cards for as little as $50, essentially making them 10 cents a piece.

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Equity vs Debt Financing: What You Should Know

If you’re in the early stages of launching a new business, you’ll need to raise capital to cover expenses like payroll, inventory, insurance, equipment and more. There’s an old saying that it takes money to make money. Regardless of what type of business you intend to run, you’ll need to purchase products and services to get it off the ground. With that said, there are different financing options available for new businesses, including equity and debt financing.

What Is Debt Financing?

Debt financing refers to borrowing money from a lender under the agreement that you’ll repay it according to the lender’s terms. It’s called “debt financing” because it requires businesses to take on debt. The lender loans you money to use for your business, but you’ll have to pay it back — along with interest in most cases — to comply with the terms and conditions created by the lender.

Not all debt financing is the same. Granted, your business will take on debt when using debt financing, but some forms are easier to obtain than others. Secured debt financing, for example, requires the use of assets with a monetary value as collateral. You essentially “secure” this form of financing using collateral. As a result, banks and lenders have more lenient requirements for secured debt financing as opposed to unsecured debt financing, the latter of which doesn’t use or otherwise require collateral.

What Is Equity Financing?

An alternative to debt financing is equity financing. Equity financing can provide you with money to launch your new business as well, but it’s a completely different form of funding. With equity financing, neither you nor your business will take on debt. Instead, it allows you to sell some of your business’s shares to a financial institution or investment firm.

It’s called “equity financing” because it involves the sale of a company’s equity. Therefore, you won’t own 100% of your business if you use this method to raise capital. But the good news is that you won’t take on debt from equity financing, either.

So, should you use debt financing or equity financing to raise capital for your new business? It really depends on the type of business you operate as well as your own goals and objectives. Some businesses prefer the simplicity of debt financing, whereas others prefer equity financing. Assess your business and goals and objectives to determine which financing vehicle is right for you.

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What Is an Adjusting Journal Entry in Quickbooks?

In Quickbooks, adjusting journal entries are used to change the balance of an account. If you discover an account has the wrong balance, for example, you can create an adjusting journal entry to fix it. With that said, you’ll need to follow the correct steps to create an adjusting journal entry. To learn more about this feature in Quickbooks and how to use it, keep reading. In this post, we’re going to reveal everything you need to know about adjusting journal entries in Quickbooks.

Do I Need to Create an Adjusting Journal Entry?

Not all businesses need to create adjusting journal entries. As previously mentioned, they are used to chance the balance of an account. Assuming an account has the correct balance, using an adjusting journal entry won’t offer any benefit.

Of course, there are still times when you may need to create an adjusting journal entry. If you recently discovered a credit card fee imposed to your business’s account, for example, you may want to create an adjusting journal entry to account for the newly imposed fee. If you’re trying to record amortization, you may also want to create an adjusting journal entry.

How to Create an Adjusting Journal Entry

To create an adjusting journal entry, log in to Quickbooks and select the client’s name from the drop-down menu titled “Go to client’s Quickbooks.” From here, click the (+) sign, followed by “Journal Entry” below the “Other” menu. Quickbooks will then ask you whether this is an adjusting journal entry. Select “Yes,” after which you can enter the appropriate information to change the account balance. When finished, click the “Save” button to complete the process.


In addition to creating an adjusting journal entry, you may also want to review your adjusted trial balance. As you may know, the adjusted trial balance contains all the accounts in your business’s general ledger prior to the application of adjusting entries. Therefore, it’s an invaluable tool in double checking your business’s accounts to ensure they are correct.

To run an adjusted trial balance report, go to the home screen of Quickbooks and click the “Reports” link on the left-side menu. Next, type “Adjusted Trial Balance” in the search box and then select the option titled “Adjusted Trial Balance” from the results. This report will display the balances for all your business’s accounts before you applied the adjusting journal entry.

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Quickbooks and Sales Tax Tracking: What You Should Know

As a business owner, it’s important that you calculate — and charge — sales tax on all purchased products and services. When a customer in your business’s state makes a purchase, you are legally required to charge him or her sales tax. Although different states and municipalities have different sales tax rates, most fall somewhere between 4% and 9%, meaning a customer who spends $100 must pay an additional $4 to $9 in sales tax. There’s no denying the fact that sales tax adds a new challenge for business owners. But if you use Quickbooks, you’ll be pleased to hear that it does most of the work on your behalf.

How Sales Tax Rate Is Calculated in Quickbooks

Quickbooks  is able to automatically calculate sales tax based on the region in which your business operates. As previously mentioned, there’s no universal sales tax rate for the United States. Rather, it varies depending on the state, city or county, with most places requiring businesses to charge between 4% and 9%. Quickbooks, however, contains an updated list of thousands of tax code rates for U.S. municipalities. Regardless of where your business operates, Quickbooks can automatically calculate your correct sales tax rate.

Charging Customers Sales Tax in Quickbooks

Of course, you’ll need to charge customers sales tax. While it’s best to consult with a professional tax accountant, businesses in the United States are generally required to charge sales tax for all products or services delivered in their respective state or municipality. If you use Quickbooks, however, you can easily charge customers sales tax by adding it to their invoices. Simply pull up the customer’s invoice, at which point you’ll see an option to add sales tax. And because Quickbooks automatically calculates sales tax rate based on your region, you don’t have to worry about trying to find the correct rate.

The Sales Tax Center

Quickbooks actually has a built-in feature that’s designed specifically for sales tax tracking: the Sales Tax Center. Using this feature, you can analyze and report your business’s sales tax. The Sales Tax Center even allows you to receive notifications for when sales tax is due. As you may know, most states require businesses to pay sales tax four time a year — once per quarter. With notifications enabled, you’ll receive an email before the due date of each quarter so that you don’t accidentally miss a tax payment.

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What Is Current Ratio in Accounting?

Financial accounting is an important task associated with running a business. If you don’t know how much money you spend and how much you generate, you won’t be able to optimize your business’s operations, resulting in lower profits. But there are a number of metrics used to measure a business’s financial health, one of which is current ratio. As a business owner, you should familiarize yourself with current ratio so that you can effectively use this metric in your financial accounting efforts.

Current Ratio Explained

Current ratio is a financial metric used to determine if a business has the adequate amount of money and resources needed to cover its short-term expenses. It’s calculated by taking a business’s current assets and dividing it by the business’s current liabilities. If your business has $500,000 in current assets and $300,000 in current liabilities, its current ratio would be 1.66.

A current ratio above 1.0 indicates that your business’s assets are worth more than the cost of its liabilities. Of course, that’s a good thing. If your business’s liabilities are higher than its assets, your business may spend more money than what it earns. In this regard, current ratio is primarily used to measure a business’s liquidity.

Current Ratio Vs Quick Ratio

Current ratio is often confused with quick ratio. Both of these financial metrics reveal a business’s liquidity by comparing its assets with its liabilities. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the same. The difference between current ratio and quick ratio is that the former takes into account all assets, whereas the latter only takes into account highly liquid assets that can be easily converted to cash in a short period of time. Examples of assets used in the quick ratio formula include cash and accounts receivables.

How to Improve Your Business’s Current Ratio

There are several steps you can take to improve your business’s current ratio. First, try to keep your liabilities to a minimum. In other words, avoid taking out loans or using credit cards to fund your business. Second, work to increase your business’s current assets. With more assets, you’ll achieve a higher current ratio. There are countless ways to increase assets, such as exploring new markets or releasing new products or services. With a little work, you can improve your business’s current ratio, allowing for greater liquidity.

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What Is Detail Type in Quickbooks?

When using Quickbooks to keep track of your business’s finances, you may come across “detail types.” Intuit’s popular business accounting software allows you to select from one of several account types when you create an account, some of which include expense, income and liability. Depending on the account type, it will place the account into a new subcategory so that it’s properly recorded as per the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). To learn more about detail types in Quickbooks and how to use them, keep reading.

Detail Types Are Chosen Automatically

As previously mentioned, Quickbooks automatically places new accounts into a specific subcategory. Cash, for example, is placed on the Balance Sheet as an asset. Payroll, on the other hand, is placed as a payroll expense. Quickbooks automatically selects the most appropriate detail type for the respective account, meaning you don’t have to worry about choosing a detail type. As long as you select the right account, Quickbooks will categorize it with the appropriate detail type.

How to View Detail Type of an Account

So, how do you view the detail type of a specific account in Quickbooks? To view the detail type of an account, log in to Quickbooks and click the gear icon at the top of the page, followed by “Chart of Accounts.” From here, you should see a list of all your accounts along with their respective detail type.

How to Change the Detail Type

While Quickbooks automatically selects detail types for new accounts, you can change it in a few easy steps. To change the detail type of an account, click the gear icon at the top of the page, followed by “Chart of Accounts.” Next, click “View Register” below the “Action” menu, followed by “Edit.” You can then select “Detail Type” in the pop-up window. After choosing your preferred detail type, click “Save and Close” to complete the process. Quickbooks will ask you to confirm the change before proceeding. It’s recommended that you double check to make sure you’ve selected the right detail type. Assuming everything looks good, choose “Yes” to confirm, at which the account will have a new detail type.

After reading this, you should have a better understanding of detail types in Quickbooks. Selecting the right detail type is essential to your business’s accounting practices because it governs the way in which transactions are recorded.

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