Is Double-Entry Accounting Right for Your Business? Your Complete Guide!

If you’re a freelancer, sole entrepreneur, or independent contractor, you have to decide your business’s accounting system: double-entry or single-entry? You might have been using single-entry accounting, especially if you aren’t using accounting software. While this may have been sufficient initially, you should probably move to use accounting software and double-entry accounting if you plan to grow your business. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through double-entry accounting as simply as possible. We’ll explain how it differs from single-entry, and help you decide which accounting system suits your business best.

What is double-entry accounting?

Double-entry accounting is a bookkeeping method that maintains the balance of a company’s accounts. This method shows the most accurate picture of the company’s finances. At its core, this method relies on the accounting equation Assets = Liabilities + Equity. 

This accounting system was invented by Benedetto Cotrugli, an Italian merchant, in 1458. This system was later shared by the Italian mathematician and Franciscan friar Luca Pacioli, the author of The Collected Knowledge of Arithmetic, Geometry, Proportion, and Proportionality, which included a detailed description of the double-entry accounting system.

Using double-entry accounting is the only way to make sure all of your transactions follow the accounting equation rules. Unlike single-entry accounting which only requires that you post a transaction into a ledger, double-entry tracks both sides (debit and credit) of each transaction you enter. Using the double-entry accounting system reduces errors and makes it easier to produce accurate financial statements. Later in the article, we will take a look at a real-world example to help make these concepts even more clear.

See more: A Small Business Guide To General Ledgers.

Types of accounts

When you employ double-entry accounting, you will need to use several types of accounts. Some key account types include:

  • Assets: Assets are resources owned by a company, which represent future economic value. Some examples of asset accounts are accounts receivable, cash, and equipment. 
  • Liabilities: Liabilities are amounts owed or committed by a company, such as accounts payable, loans, and accrued expenses. 
  • Equity: Equity is the amount of funds invested in a business by its owners plus all retained income from operations. Common examples of equity are paid-in equity (funds from investors), retained earnings, and common stock. 
  • Revenue: Revenue is the money generated from any operating activities, like product sales, service fees, and interest income. 
  • Expenses: Expenses are all costs incurred in running a business, such as inventory purchases, employee wages, and depreciation. 

What are debits and credits?

Debits and credits are fundamental to the double-entry system. In accounting, a debit entry appears on the left side of an account ledger, while a credit entry appears on the right side. A transaction’s total debits and credits must be equal to be in balance. Credits don’t necessarily imply increasing, and debits don’t always imply decreasing. 

A debit may increase one account while decreasing another. For example, a debit increases asset accounts but decreases liability and equity accounts, supporting the general accounting equation of Assets = Liabilities + Equity. 

Debits increase the balances in expense and loss accounts on the income statement, while credits decrease their balances. Debits decrease revenue and gain account balances, while credits increase their balances.

To make things a bit easier, we’ve made this table to show you how debits and credits work under the double-entry bookkeeping system:

DebitsCredits
– Are always recorded on the left side
– Increase an asset account, or decrease a liability account or equity account (such as owner’s equity).
– Increase an expense account.
– Decrease revenue
– Are always recorded on the right side
– Increase a liability or equity account, or decrease an asset account.
– Decrease an expense account.
– Increase revenue

How double-entry accounting works

Setting up and operating a double-entry accounting system includes four key steps. It starts with setting up the accounts in which bookkeepers will record transactions and ends with using account information to generate financial statements. The steps are: 

  • Stage 1: Create a chart of accounts for posting your financial transactions. This chart is a complete listing of all the general ledger accounts that a company can use to record transactions. It contains all the accounts for each of the five types: assets, liabilities, equity, revenue, and expense. Nowadays, most accounting software comes with pre-made charts of accounts available for customization, while other accounting solutions offer customized charts of accounts.
  • Stage 2: Enter all transactions with equal amounts of debits and credits to reflect the elements of a transaction. Debits and credits can be recorded in any monetary unit, but the currency should be consistent throughout the accounting process.
  • Stage 3: Ensure each entry has two components; debit and credit. And, ensure that they are in balance with the accounting equation. Using accounting software can help you with this. 
  • Stage 4: Check and ensure that financial statements balance and reflect the accounting equation. The net account totals in the double-entry accounting system are fundamental to creating the company’s working and final balance when closing the books at the end of each accounting period. The final adjusted balances flow into financial statement line items. Nowadays, accounting software can automate the integration and process flow necessary to do this.

An example of double-entry accounting

Let’s explore a realistic example of double-entry accounting for a common business transaction. If you buy a new $1000 laptop for your freelance startup and you would like to record the expense, here’s how you’d do it: 

First, you need to enter a $1,000 debit to increase your asset statement “Laptop” expense account and a $1,000 credit to decrease your balance sheet “Cash” account. 

DATEACCOUNTDEBITCREDIT
12/29/21Office equipment$1,000
12/29/21Cash Account$1,000

In double-entry accounting, you still record the $1,000 in your cash account, but you also record that $1,000 as an expense.

Should I use double-entry or single-entry accounting? 

Single-entry might be enough for your accounting needs if your business is very simple, has only one employee, doesn’t have any inventory or debts, and doesn’t have many accounts to keep track of. 

Otherwise, if your business is any more complex than that, most accountants will strongly recommend switching to double-entry accounting.

Why? Though single-entry accounting is simpler to implement, it has significant drawbacks compared with double-entry accounting. Single-entry accounting is more prone to errors, especially omissions and duplications, because it lacks the control method of balancing accounts.

Furthermore, single-entry accounting can’t create a complete financial picture of the business. It only records cash inflows and outflows, indicating when cash is in hand versus when it is actually earned. It also doesn’t indicate items like sales made on credit. Moreover, single-entry accounting requires extra work in the closing process to yield balanced financial statements. Lastly, single-entry accounting is unsuitable for public companies because it’s not accepted under GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.)

Double-entry accounting provides you with a more complete, three-dimensional view of your finances than the single-entry method ever could. Since you’re recording where your money is coming from and where it’s going, you can then collate that information into financial statements. This gives you comprehensive insights into the profitability and health of various parts of your business. That’s a win because accurate financial statements can help you make better decisions about spending money in the future.

Double-entry accounting also reduces the risk of bookkeeping errors, improves financial transparency, and provides a layer of accountability to your business that single-entry accounting cannot.

If you want your business to be taken seriously by investors, banks, and potential buyers, you should be using double-entry.

The bottom line

Accounting entries are the foundation of every company’s accounting system. Taking good care of those documents means better control over your expenses. 

Shoeboxed can help you with that! Shoeboxed is a receipt scanning and expense management solution that helps businesses digitize piles of paper receipts in just a few clicks. After scanning your receipts, the app will automatically extract the key data and categorize them in proper order. You can then create clear and comprehensive expense reports, export, share or print all of the information you need for easy tax preparation or reimbursement. 

What’s more, Shoeboxed ensures that all your digitized receipts are human-verified and accepted by both the Internal Revenue Service and the Canada Revenue Service in the event of an audit. 
Using Shoeboxed saves you time and hustle collecting and keeping those paper receipts for report-making, especially when it comes to tax preparation. Sign up for free and go paperless with Shoeboxed!

Balance Sheet Explained – A Basic Guide

A balance sheet is one of the three most important financial statements. It provides a crucial insight into how your business is doing financially at a given point in time. This article will take a deep dive into the ins and outs of balance sheets.

Related articles:

Balance sheet explained 

Simply put, a balance sheet displays a business’s assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity at any given point in time. A balance sheet provides an overview of what your business owns, what it owes, and the amount invested by its owners. In other words, it summarizes your business’s worth, so you can better understand its financial position. A balance sheet is also known as a statement of financial position. 

Key components of a balance sheet 

A balance sheet has three main parts: assets, liabilities, and shareholder’s equity. In each part, relevant items are listed and they must match the accounts outlined on your chart of accounts. 

Let’s take a closer look at the three components of a balance sheet:

  1. Assets 

The assets section lists everything your business owns that provides economic benefits. The sub-items are arranged in order of liquidity, or how easily they can be converted to cash. 

The assets section is divided into the two following categories: 

Current Assets: Assets that can be turned into cash within one year. Here are some current assets that companies commonly own:

  • Money in a checking and/or savings account
  • Cash equivalents (currency, stocks, and bonds)
  • Accounts receivable (money customers owe when buying products/services on credit)
  • Short-term investments
  • Prepaid expenses
  • Inventory

Non-Current Assets (Long-Term Assets): assets that will take more than one year to be converted to cash. Some examples of non-current assets are:

  • Land and property 
  • Machinery and equipment 
  • Intellectual assets (copyrights, patents, trademarks, etc.)
  • Goodwill (value from brand name, customer base, reputation, etc.)
  • Long-term investments 
  1. Liabilities 

Following the assets section are liabilities. Your liabilities are everything that you owe to others. Similar to assets, liabilities are also broken down into current and long-term liabilities.

Current liabilities are debts due within a year. Items are listed in order of their due date. Here are some examples:

  • Rent 
  • Utilities
  • Taxes
  • Short-term loans
  • Accounts payable (money owed when buying goods on credit) 
  • Interest payments

Long-term liabilities have due dates longer than one year. For example:

  • Long-term loans
  • Deferred income taxes
  • Pension fund liabilities.
  1. Equity 

Equity is the last section in a balance sheet. It refers to the money owned by the business owners or shareholders. In other words, equity is your net assets. The most common items belonging to this section are:

  • Capital (money put into the business by the owners)
  • Private or public stock
  • Retained earnings (net earnings to reinvest or pay off debts)

The balance sheet golden rule 

A balance sheet must follow a golden rule or an accounting formula as follows:

Assets = Liabilities + Equity

What your business owns always has to be balanced with what it owes plus its equity. This is because your assets either come from your borrowings or your own money. 

What does a balance sheet look like?

Normally, a balance sheet will be divided into two columns: assets on one side and liabilities plus equity on the other. However, it’s not unusual to see a balance sheet looking like a long, endless list. You decide the format most suitable to your business! 

Source: FundNet 
Source: Accounting Guide 

Why is a balance sheet important? 

A balance sheet is an important financial document as it allows you to look at your business’s position in detail. When comparing the current balance sheet to ones in the past, you can analyze and understand your business operations better. Think of it as a regular health check for your company. The balance sheet allows you to make better decisions by giving you an insight into what your business is doing well and what it’s not.

Here are a few financial areas that can be improved by leveraging a balance sheet:

Liquidity 

It’s always challenging for any business to calculate how much cash they have readily available. With the figures on a balance sheet, businesses can work out and analyze critical financial metrics like the current ratio (current assets ÷ current liabilities) or quick ratio ((current assets – inventory) ÷ current liabilities). Interpreting these ratios correctly will help you find the best ways to manage your company’s liquidity.    

Efficiency 

You can determine how efficiently your company uses its assets by comparing your balance sheet with other financial statements. Through calculations and analysis, you’ll be able to determine which areas in the business are generating profits. Then, you can make better plans for future investments or capital allocation.  

Risks

Your balance sheet summarizes how much debt you owe, which can tell you how much financial risk you face. Being aware of your debt situation allows you to make wiser business decisions and avoid potentially damaging events that could lead to bankruptcy. 

Who prepares the balance sheet?

Depending on your business’ size and model, the balance sheet may be prepared by different people. For example, in a small privately-owned business, a bookkeeper will prepare the balance sheet. For a mid-size private firm, their accountants may prepare it first, then have it reviewed by an external accountant. 

Key takeaways 

The balance sheet is an important financial document that you can’t overlook. Understanding what it is, how it works, and how it correlates to the rest of your business are a great advantage for any business owner. 

What’s Shoeboxed?

Shoeboxed is an application that lets you digitize every paper receipt in just a few seconds. Shoeboxed also automatically extracts and categorizes important data from your receipts with human verification

Quick, reliable, and trustworthy, Shoeboxed promises to organize your piles of documents in the best way possible! 
Go paperless for free with Shoeboxed!

Expensify vs Shoeboxed: Which One Is for You?

Whether you’re self-employed or a business owner, choosing the perfect accounting software for your business is very important. There are countless software and apps on the market with various features, pricing, details, and so much more to check. We understand that not all people have time to test dozens of solutions. That’s why we came up with a complete comparison between the top choices for receipt tracking and expense management software: Expensify vs Shoeboxed

An overview: Expensify vs Shoeboxed

1. Cross-platform compatibility

Different people have different needs. Some love iOS, while others are loyal to Android. And there are Windows users, and there are people who like to access things on a browser. This situation is especially true when working as part of a team.

Both Shoeboxed and Expensify are available on Android and iOS platforms. You can also use them in any browser of your choice without any issues. This will help you keep your receipts in sync at all times.

2. Interface

Since most of us use smartphones to scan receipts, the app’s interface is an important part to consider when choosing the right accounting app. Both apps are easy to use with the basic functions displayed right on the portal. The interface is clean and intuitive with a focus on simplicity and speed.

A comparison between Expensify vs Shoeboxed’s interface

3. Main features

The basic functionality remains the same. You scan an expense receipt, and the app will extract the key data such as items, quantity, price. They will also categorize them by vendor, the total amount, date, and payment type. There are various categories to further classify your expenses like Mileage, Groceries, Entertainment, Office Supplies, etc. Then, the apps create a digitized version of the receipt synced with your cloud account. 

Both apps allow you to arrange receipts by trips, create a report, and submit it for approval. Users can also track mileage for business trips with both apps. Additionally, Expensify offers a per diem functionality where an individual is given a daily allowance, and you can use the app to keep track of it on a daily basis.

On the other hand, Shoeboxed has one feature that Expensify lacks. If you have a bunch of receipts and no time to scan them, you can mail them straight to Shoeboxed‘s processing facility for free with our postage-paid Magic Envelope™. Shoeboxed will scan the receipts, turn them into organized and actionable digital data, and upload them to your account. 

This mail-in feature that Shoeboxed offers helps you clear your desk and drawers and bring you up to speed. This unique service is extremely useful for small business owners or freelancers—those who have to handle a lot of work on their own. By doing this, you can free yourself from the paperwork and focus on improving your business’s core value. 


What’s more, Shoeboxed ensures that all your digital receipts are human-verified and audit-ready. You can rest assured that your receipts are legibly scanned, clearly categorized, and accepted by both the Internal Revenue Service and the Canada Revenue Service in the event of an audit. This is the best choice for freelancers and business owners when it comes to tax season. 

4. Third-party integration

Both Shoeboxed and Expensify integrate with various third-party apps and software such as Quickbooks, Intuit, and Xero. Expensify also connects with Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Bill.com, Uber, and several other popular services. 

5. Pricing

Pricing is definitely an important factor to consider, especially if you’re looking for a scalable solution.

Shoeboxed offers three primary plans. The Startup plan (for individuals and freelancers) begins at $18/month, allowing you to scan and store up to 900 documents (both physical and digital) per year. If you are a professional or small business owner, go for the Professional plan. With $36 for two users, this plan offers you 3600 documents/month. If you own a business with high volume, the Business plan at $54/month with 7200 documents/month is the most suitable option.

On the other hand, Expensify takes a simpler approach limiting the number of plans available. The individual plan begins at $5/month with no limit on receipts scanning. If you’re working in a team, Expensify offers a $9/user/month plan and a corporate plan that begins at $18/user/month. They also have an enterprise solution customized based on your business’s demands. 

Comparison: Expensify vs Shoeboxed

To help you better visualize the differences between Expensify vs Shoeboxed, we’ve made this handy chart for you: 

ExpensifyShoeboxed
OverviewExpensify is an expense management system for personal and business use. Expensify helps users scan receipts, track expenses, and book travel all in one app.Shoeboxed is the painless solution for freelancers and small business owners to track and digitize their receipts, maximize tax deductions and prepare audit-ready reports.
Platforms supported– Web-based
– iOS
– Android
– Web-based
– iOS
– Android
Language supportedEnglishEnglish
Targeted customers– Freelancers
– Small businesses
– Mid-sized businesses
– Large enterprises
– Freelancers
– Small businesses
– Mid-sized businesses
Customer support– Email
– Phone
– Live support
– Video tutorials
– Phone
– Online
– Video tutorials
Features– One-click receipt scanning
– Credit card import
– Multi-level approval workflows
– Corporate card reconciliation
– Accounting, HR, and travel integrations
– Multi-level coding
– Advanced tax tracking
– Audit and compliance
– Delegated access
– PCI-compliant security
– Automatically identify currency
– Receipt scanning
– Optical Character Recognition
– Human data verification
– Scanned receipts storage
– Receipt search
– Mobile receipts tracking
– Mileage tracking
– Data digitization service
– Gmail receipts archiving
– Business cards management
– Tax filing
– Expense reports
– Multiple international currencies
IntegrationsExpensify integrates with various accounting software as well as HR, travel, and accommodation systems and applications:
– Accounting: Bill.com, FinancialForce, NetSuite, QuickBooks, Sage, Xero, Scan Snap
– Transport: Automatic, Grab, Lyft, Trainline, Uber
– Accommodation: Hotel Engine, HotelTonight, Roomex, TripActions
– Travel Bookings: Flight Sugar, Gallop, Jettly, Lola, Pana, TravelPerk
– Travel: NexTravel, TripActions, Trip Catcher
– Other Integrations: Accelo, Global VATax, PayPal, RevelPOS, Microsoft Dynamics, Financial Force, Workday, TSheets
Shoeboxed integrates with the following third-party solutions:
– QuickBooks
– Xero
– MYOB
– Dropbox
– Evernote
– GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping
– WaveAccounting
– FreshBooks
– OneSaas
– Saasu
– Salesforce
– WorkingPoint
– Bench
– ScanSnap
PricingAlong with the free version, Expensify offers two pricing plans: 
– The Collect plan at $5/user/month
– The Control plan at $18/user/month
Along with the free version, Shoeboxed offers three pricing plans: 
– The Startup plan at $18/month
– The Professional plan at $36/month
– The Business plan at $54/month

In the end, the choice is yours

By comparing the features, integrations, and pricing with your business’s needs, you’ll be able to decide which app is the best fit for your business. Don’t forget to get a free trial before subscribing to experience how the program can benefit you in practical situations.

If you’d like to see more comparisons between Shoeboxed and other accounting apps, let us know in the comments! 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Shoeboxed blog for more engaging stories about entrepreneurship, staying organized, DIY accounting, together with Shoeboxed‘s latest product updates.