How to keep the accounts of a company?

When you start your business, many of you wonder how to properly manage the accounts. In this guide, you will understand what your obligations are and what your options are for keeping a company's accounts.


A few reminders on business accounting

What is accounting for?

When we talk about general accounting, it is a set of procedures that make it possible to record and classify all the operations and their values ​​carried out by a company.


From this financial information, accounting documents are established, in this case a balance sheet and an income statement.


The balance sheet concerns the state of the company's assets, i.e. what it owns and what it owes at a specific time (at the time of the closing of the accounting year).

The income statement lists the incoming and outgoing movements made by the company during the accounting period. We then deduce the result (positive or negative), called balance, between income and expenses.


It allows you to carry out a real strategic management of your company thanks to the knowledge and the follow-up of the activity and the financial health of your company.


Is keeping business accounts compulsory?

Every company must keep accounts, whether the company is commercial or industrial (source), with a few nuances:

  • Small craft or commercial businesses can, under certain conditions (source), benefit from simplified accounting.
  • Liberal professionals are subject to simplified accounting with, in particular, the exemption from carrying out a balance sheet.

The accounting of a micro-entrepreneur is summarized in a book of receipts and expenses (as well as invoicing obligations).

Chart of accounts and accounting books

The chart of accounts is an essential accounting tool for all businesses. This is a nomenclature containing two columns (inputs and outputs) and account numbers classified under 9 accounts (at least). Each income or expenditure, called accounting entries, is classified in this document according to the type of operation.


There are also accounting books. There are several types of registers:

  • the journal, in which the operations are classified in chronological order,
  • the general ledger, where transactions are classified by account number,
  • the inventory book which includes the items owned by the company (it is no longer mandatory since 2016).

Business accounting: rules and obligations

The keeping of the accounts must meet certain legal obligations which will mainly depend on the legal form of your company. Overall, a few common rules should be remembered:

  • Absolutely all movements must be recorded in accounting entries.
  • All supporting documents must be kept and attached to an accounting entry.
  • Accounting books must be kept for 10 years.
  • Personal accounts should be separated from business accounts.
  • The filing of accounts for the companies concerned must be carried out each year.

The different types of business accounting: cash or commitment

Two types of business accounting exist. One or the other will be applied depending on your tax system and the options chosen.


Cash accounting means accounting only for receipts and expenses paid, as well as receivables (customer invoice due) and debts (supplier invoice payable) at the end of the financial year.

  • This is the simplest, easiest and fastest accounting.
  • It concerns in particular entrepreneurs in BNC, and those in BIC with the simplified real regime (optional).

Commitment accounting means recording income and expenses when they are incurred, even if you have not yet paid or been paid.

  • This accounting is more complex, it is also more precise.
  • It concerns professionals and companies at the IS and in BIC (with some possible exceptions in BIC)


Keeping business accounts: what are your options?

Excel is not an option

Even if some continue to use a spreadsheet to do their accounting, this practice is clearly discouraged since it does not respect several legal obligations of business accounting.


Indeed, according to article 921-3 of the General Chart of Accounts, any modification or deletion of accounting data is prohibited. Each accounting entry must be subject to a validation procedure, which is not the case with Excel. You can therefore use a balance sheet model, but it will at least be necessary to complete it with a paper version.



Other solutions exist, and you can in particular turn to accounting softwarecompany. Modern, intuitive, ergonomic, efficient, this software has many advantages and is increasingly used by entrepreneurs.


If computers put you off, it is also possible to keep your accounts manually on paper, without erasures. In this case, you respect the prohibition to modify or delete the accounting data.


Finally, the largest companies choose to entrust the accounting of the company to an employee or a department of the company, often with accounting or pre-accounting software?


A chartered accountant or an online accountant

You can choose to call on a professional outside your company to keep your accounts. Accounting firms have as their core business the accounting management of companies. In addition to taking over all or part of your accounting tasks, they often provide a consulting service, useful for the management of your business and are even able to assist you with your business plan.


With a more competitive price/quality ratio, online accountants offer the same services as physical firms, but remotely and at more affordable rates. On the other hand, they have some limits on the legal forms they accept or the types of accounting they can manage, so do not hesitate to ask for several quotes.


Should you internalize or outsource your business accounting?

Now that you know all the options, how do you choose the best one? Each solution has advantages and disadvantages that will tip the balance depending on your own situation.


If you have a sufficient budget, little knowledge or resources in accounting and need expert advice, outsourcing your business accounting to an accounting firm is undoubtedly the best option. You are sure that your accounting is managed in a qualitative way, without errors. On the other hand, you will lose responsiveness and control of your costs. You can choose between total outsourcing (from accounting entry to editing annual accounts and declarations) or partial (annual accounts only).


Companies with the necessary resources in-house can entrust the accounting to one or more employees. In both cases, you retain more control over accounting management and access information more quickly.


Finally, the smallest companies which for reasons of budget or control want to keep control of their accounting will turn to software such as Quickbooks or Indy, or MaCompta or Zefyr which go as far as establishing the balance sheet.

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