Chart Of Accounts 101

standard chart of accounts for small business

COA helps companies prepare, maintain, and monitor their financial accounts as per the standard accounting norms. It facilitates stakeholders to interpret a company’s financial performance with ease. You can make life much easier for your controller when you group EBITDA and non-recurring or one-off items like acquisition expenses, integration expenses, and others. This way, looking at normalized accounts doesn’t feel like a mighty chore when, for example, converting from a GAAP income statement to a management income statement. Once you have an adequate system in place, then it’s not a problem to tweak your COA by adjusting account categories when needed.

An expert in accounting, finance, and point of sale, Erica has been researching and writing about all things small-business since 2018. Erica’s insights into personal and business finance have been cited in numerous publications, including MSN, Real Simple, and Reader’s Digest. I have designing a customized Chart of Accounts for 15 years. I always two perspectives in focus as I design their company vision/ goals so we can have quality informative data and tax reporting. I’d love to help if you are wanting to have a clean strategic COA. For example, Sales-Hardware could be further broken out to Sales-Hardware-Computers and Sales-Hardware-Printers. Hardware-Printers could be further broken out in Hardware-Printers-HP and Hardware-Printers-Canon.

standard chart of accounts for small business

For Example, number your Cash in Checking account 1000 and your accounts Receivable account 1100. This leaves a lot of room to add other accounts to track cash. A Standard chart of accounts takes the above Main Categories and Sub Categories and breaks them down into a numerical system. Therefore, it forms the foundation of a company’s financial record keeping system.

Components Of A Coa

The liabilities category is where you keep track of your company’s debt obligations or what your company owes or may owe in the future. You may want to start numbering the liabilities section with 2000. Just like with the assets category, you want to follow the traditional form of the balance sheet in developing the liabilities section of the chart of accounts. You will have a current liabilities section and a long-term liabilities section. A chart of accounts is a list of accounts available for recording transactions in a company’s general ledger. Think of it as the filing cabinet for your small business’s accounting system. This helps keep track of money coming in and out of the company, especially when it’s time to file taxes.

  • That means that balance sheet accounts, such as assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity, are listed first, followed by accounts in the income statement (i.e., revenues and expenses).
  • For example, Meals Expense might be a standalone account or it might be spread across the categories the meals relate to, such as Marketing, Conferences, or Travel.
  • The owner’s equity accounts include your investment in the business.
  • Good thing is that accounting software programs are packaged with a preset list of accounts that can give you a head start and can be modified along with your growing business.

Try to make a chart of accounts that won’t change for several years so that you can more easily compare results. If you keep adding new accounts, then it will become increasingly difficult to compare your financial information over a multi-year period.

How To Set Up A Chart Of Accounts For A Service Business Llc

A properly executed reboot of the chart of accounts will fix both problems. Thankfully, even a full-scale reboot does not require an astronomical amount of time or energy. In fact, I suggest that it is the single best and most effective way to raise the financial reporting at your organization to the next level. The chart of accounts is like the framework of shelves and storage bins in a warehouse. Accounts are the specific “bins” that hold accounting transactions. Accounting teams tend to focus on doing things the “right way” rather than asking the readers of the financial statements what they want to see.

standard chart of accounts for small business

Each of the expense accounts can be assigned numbers starting from 5000. It provides a way to categorize all of the financial transactions that a company conducted during a specific accounting period. As your business grows, so will your need for accurate, fast, and legible reporting. Your chart of accounts helps you understand the past and look toward the future. A chart of accounts should keep your business accounting error-free and straightforward. This will allow you to quickly determine your financial health so that you can make intelligent decisions moving forward. Accounting systems, by definition, have a general ledger in which your asset accounts match your liability accounts .

It is used to organize finances and give interested parties, such as investors and shareholders, a clearer insight into a company’s financial health. Just remember that while you can add an account to the chart at any time throughout the financial year, you should not delete any accounts until the end of an accounting period. Therefore, it is advisable to initially create a list of accounts that is unlikely to significantly change for as long as possible and keep it congruent among all areas of business. If you start off with only a handful of accounts and then keep expanding the list as your business grows, it may become increasingly challenging to compare financial results against the previous years. Balance sheet line items are displayed first, followed by the income statement elements. It is important to initially plan ahead and create a chart of accounts that is unlikely to change for several years, so that you can compare the results in the same account over a multi-year periods. And if liabilities accounts are classified by numbers starting with the digit 2, then accounts payable might be labeled 201, Insurance Payable might be labeled 202 and so on.

Liability Accounts

Many can get by with a single line item for revenue in their general ledger. Revenue, or service revenue, is pretty straightforward for most PS firms. The vendors that appear on this list were chosen by subject matter experts on the basis of product quality, wide usage and availability, and positive reputation. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser.

standard chart of accounts for small business

By doing so, you can easily understand what products or services are generating the most revenue in your business. If you create too many categories in your chart of account, you can make your entire financial reports difficult to read and analyze. Within the COA, accounts will be typically listed in order of their appearance in the financial statements. Typically, balance sheet accounts, including current assets and current liabilities, are listed first.

How To Change Account Type In Quicken

In this case, its purpose is to provide an overview of the groups of data or accounts that store information of the same type. In the simple example above, the features of a COA are noticeable. The accounts are numbered so that a consecutive series of numbers are devoted to accounts of a certain type. Asset accounts are 100s, liability accounts are 200s, and so on.

In the end, the chart of accounts, the budget, and management preferences all must align in an effective accounting system. The concept makes sense, but it gets confusing when this entry hits the financials. Unlike true wage expense, the $3,000 is a project costing entry that is not paid out in cash. Accordingly, the offset will not be cash, but rather a -$3,000 entry to an Indirect Expenses-Applied account. As each hour of labor cost is posted to the system, the estimated indirect cost of $10 per hour is also automatically posted. If the workers work 300 hours, $3,000 (300 x $10 per hour) of indirect expense will post to the project module and the financial statements. Most companies choose a metric such as labor hours and estimate a rate per labor hour that “uses up” these indirect costs over the course of a month or year.

  • If you take a block away from one section of your business, you have to add it back someplace else.
  • Includes the cost of all salaries and wages not already included in the cost of goods sold.
  • A chart of accounts is a financial organizational tool that provides a complete listing of every account in the general ledger of a company, broken down into subcategories.
  • A chart of accounts is an index of all the financial accounts in thegeneral ledgerof a company.
  • Your checking account is automatically updated and $15,000 is added to the balance.
  • The GL and, by extension, the COA should really show the financial transactions the business wants to monitor and measure.

The chart of accounts streamlines various asset accounts by organizing them into line items so that you can track multiple components easily. Asset accounts can be confusing because they not only track what you paid for each asset, but they also follow processes like depreciation. Each time you add or remove an account from your business, it’s important to record it into the correct account. Read on to learn how to create and utilize standard chart of accounts for small business the chart to keep better track of your business’s accounts. Use ledger accounts to analyze your income, expenditure, assets, liabilities and capital when running your management reports. A chart of accounts is a financial organizational tool that provides a complete listing of every account in the general ledger of a company, broken down into subcategories. A chart of accounts groups together transactions of a certain type.

Financial Clarity At Last: How To Reboot Your Chart Of Accounts Structure In 7 Steps

But since the accounts collect information on one type of transaction, the COA can become a tool of analysis. The GL and, by extension, the COA should really show the financial transactions the business wants to monitor and measure. Consequently, the COA should have a logical link to the Key Performance Indicators of the business. And adding other accounts that are specific to the nature of the business.

If the account is no longer active in real life, zero it out in QuickBooks and make it inactive. For the vast majority of small businesses, account numbers are not helpful and actually can slow you down quite a bit.

Accounts are usually listed in order of their appearance in the financial statements, starting with the balance sheet and continuing with the income statement. Thus, the chart of accounts begins with cash, proceeds through liabilities and shareholders’ equity, and then continues with accounts for revenues and then expenses. The account names in the COA are usually arranged in the order the accounts appear in the financial statements. That means that balance sheet accounts, such as assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity, are listed first, followed by accounts in the income statement (i.e., revenues and expenses).

Accounting software handles your chart of accounts for you, which makes it super simple and easy to set up. Some of the sub-categories that may be included under the revenue account include sales discounts account, sales returns account, interest income account, etc. Your chart of accounts is a living document for your business and because of that, accounts will inevitably need to be added or removed over time.

By separating out your revenue, liabilities, assets, and business expenditures, a chart of accounts enables you to gain insight into the effectiveness of different areas of your business. Under this column, we mention the financial statement impacted by the accounts. The asset-liability and equity accounts affect the balance sheet, whereas the income and expense accounts reflect changes in the income statement. Balance SheetA balance sheet is one of the financial statements of a company that presents the shareholders’ equity, liabilities, and assets of the company at a specific point in time. It is based on the accounting equation that states that the sum of the total liabilities and the owner’s capital equals the total assets of the company. Setting up a chart of accounts can provide a helpful tool that enables a company’s management to easily record transactions, prepare financial statements, and review revenues and expenses in detail.

As one final tip, I recommend you spend some time looking at existing templates and examples of a good chart of accounts. Plenty of other beneficial sources, including Xero, QuickBooks, Accounting Verse, andDouble Entry Bookkeeping,can help give you an idea of what a good chart of accounts looks like. A proper, up-to-date chart of accounts is an efficient lifesaver come tax season. Many small business owners are required to file a Schedule C. Unlike some foundational problems, a chart of accounts can be optimized relatively quickly. A well-executed remodel can generally be implemented within a month and have a noticeable effect on financial reporting immediately.

Some may also display equity accounts on their company’s chart. An equity account is a representation of anything that remains after accounting for all operating expenses and revenue accounts. Use the chart of accounts to analyze your income, expenditure, assets, liabilities, and capital when running reports. This helps you to see how your business is performing at any moment in time.


The leading digit on each account indicates what type of account it belongs to. It helps you find the necessary accounts and transactions you need, after all. They are the costs a business must incur in order to gain revenue.

Knowing how to keep your company’s chart organized can make it easier for you to access financial information. These are assets, liabilities, equity, revenue, and expenses. These categories can further be broken down into more specific subcategories based on the accounts of your business. You’ll notice that each account in the chart of accounts for Doris Orthodontics also has a five-digit reference number preceding it. A chart of accounts is a list of all your company’s “accounts,” together in one place.

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