Accounting Cycle: Small Business CPA Explained

Accounting Cycle: Small Business CPA Explained

Welcome, dear reader, to the thrilling world of accounting cycles! Yes, you heard right. Thrilling. If you thought accounting was all about number crunching and ledger balancing, prepare to have your mind blown. The accounting cycle is like the ‘Game of Thrones’ of the financial world. Intrigue, suspense, plot twists – it’s got it all!

Now, let’s dive into the deep end of the accounting pool. Don’t worry, we’ve got your floaties on. This comprehensive guide will take you through the entire accounting cycle, from the initial transaction to the final financial statements. And we promise, it’ll be a roller coaster ride you won’t forget!

The Concept of Accounting Cycle

Imagine the accounting cycle as a giant hamster wheel. The hamster (that’s you, by the way) starts at one point, runs around the wheel, and ends up back where it started. But unlike a hamster, you’re not running in circles for no reason. Each rotation of the wheel represents a complete accounting period, and with each cycle, you’re generating valuable financial information for your business.

So, what happens during this cycle? Well, it’s a series of steps that are followed in a specific order to record, classify, and summarize financial data. Think of it as a recipe for financial success. You wouldn’t bake a cake without following the recipe, would you? The same goes for managing your business finances.

The Steps of the Accounting Cycle

Like a well-choreographed dance routine, the accounting cycle has a series of steps that need to be performed in a particular order. Miss a step, and you’ll be tripping over your own feet. Or in this case, your financial records.

Here’s a quick rundown of the steps involved in the accounting cycle. Don’t worry, we’ll be diving into each of these in more detail later on. So, buckle up and get ready for the ride!

  1. Identifying Transactions
  2. Recording Transactions in the Journal
  3. Posting to the Ledger
  4. Preparing an Unadjusted Trial Balance
  5. Making Adjusting Entries
  6. Preparing an Adjusted Trial Balance
  7. Preparing Financial Statements
  8. Closing the Books

Identifying Transactions

Identifying transactions is like playing detective. You’re on the lookout for any financial activity that can be measured in monetary terms. This could be anything from purchasing office supplies to receiving payment from a customer. If it involves money, it’s a transaction.

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But not all transactions are created equal. Some are more straightforward than others. For example, if you buy a new computer for your business, that’s a clear-cut transaction. But what about depreciation on that computer? That’s also a transaction, but it’s a bit more complex. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that later.

Recording Transactions in the Journal

Once you’ve identified a transaction, the next step is to record it in the journal. Think of the journal as your financial diary. It’s where you jot down all your business transactions in chronological order. But instead of writing about your feelings, you’re writing about debits and credits.

Each journal entry includes the date of the transaction, the accounts affected, the amounts to be debited or credited, and a brief description of the transaction. It’s like a snapshot of your business’s financial activity. And just like your diary, it’s important to keep your journal up-to-date. No one wants to be stuck in a financial time warp!

Posting to the Ledger

After recording transactions in the journal, the next step is to post them to the ledger. If the journal is your financial diary, the ledger is your financial encyclopedia. It’s a collection of all your business’s accounts, organized by category.

Each account in the ledger has a separate page where you record all the debits and credits for that account. This makes it easy to see the balance of each account at a glance. It’s like having a bird’s-eye view of your business’s financial health.

Preparing an Unadjusted Trial Balance

Once you’ve posted all your transactions to the ledger, it’s time to prepare an unadjusted trial balance. This is a list of all the accounts in your ledger, along with their balances. The purpose of the trial balance is to check the accuracy of your financial records.

If your books are balanced, the total debits should equal the total credits. If they don’t, you’ve got a discrepancy on your hands. But don’t panic! It could be a simple mistake, like a transposed number or a missed entry. Just go back through your records and find the error. It’s like playing ‘Where’s Waldo?’ but with numbers.

Making Adjusting Entries

After preparing the unadjusted trial balance, the next step is to make adjusting entries. These are corrections and updates to your financial records to account for transactions that weren’t recorded during the accounting period. It’s like the director’s cut of your financial records – the version that includes all the deleted scenes.

Adjusting entries can include things like accrued expenses, prepaid expenses, depreciation, and unearned revenue. Once you’ve made these adjustments, you’re ready to prepare the adjusted trial balance. This is the final check of your financial records before preparing the financial statements.

Preparing Financial Statements

Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Preparing the financial statements is like putting together a puzzle. You’re taking all the pieces of financial data you’ve collected and fitting them together to create a complete picture of your business’s financial health.

The financial statements include the income statement, the balance sheet, and the statement of cash flows. Each of these provides a different perspective on your business’s financial situation. Together, they give you a comprehensive view of your business’s financial performance.

Closing the Books

The final step in the accounting cycle is closing the books. This is like hitting the reset button on your financial records. You’re closing out all the temporary accounts and preparing for the next accounting cycle.

Closing the books involves transferring the balances of all revenue, expense, and dividend accounts to the retained earnings account. This clears the way for the new accounting period. And just like that, you’re back at the beginning of the accounting cycle, ready to start all over again!


And there you have it, folks! The accounting cycle in all its glory. It’s a wild ride, but it’s a necessary one. Understanding the accounting cycle is crucial for managing your business’s finances and making informed decisions.

So, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by your financial records, just remember: it’s all part of the cycle. Embrace the chaos, enjoy the ride, and keep those financial wheels turning!