5 Most Important Financial Policies and Procedures for Small Business

A policy is a written set of ideas or plans used to make decisions. No matter what type of business you own, there are lots of workplace policies you should have in place for attendance, security, social media, IT, safety, and more.

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Before you make your first sale or hire your first employee, you should have solid financial policies and procedures in place. Every financial policy should help to stabilize the finances of your business.

Having established financial policies and procedures makes sure your entire team is on the same page. Without financial policies, how will you manage your business finances?

Financial Policies and Procedures Examples for a Small Business

Here is a list of financial policies and procedures you should have in place. Make sure all policies are in writing and available to your team. Share these with new employees as part of the onboarding process.

1. Division of Duties

Designate who touches the financial documents of your business and who is responsible for managing those documents.

For example, you might task an office assistant to record petty cash distributions and mail all checks from the accounting department. The owner is designated to approve all invoices and checks and receives unopened bank statements. Clearly outlining who does what helps you avoid misunderstandings and sets expectations for organization.

2. Authorizations

Who can sign checks for the company? It might be just the owner, but it could also include one or more key employees. Whatever you decide, extend that policy to credit and debit card use as well. Note that any changes to a checking or savings account must go through an approval process.

3. Receipts/Disbursement Procedures

We’ve all heard stories of the friendly secretary who stole thousands of dollars from her clueless employer. Don’t let that happen to you. When funds come in via cash, check credit card or wire disbursements, determine who receives and how it’s recorded. Devise a system of checks and balances so there’s not one employee working in a vacuum.


4. Payroll

Task one person with building, maintaining and securing employee files. Include information regarding who processes payroll, keeps track of sick and vacation days and who ultimately signs the paychecks.

5. New Vendors

These policies would detail guidelines relating to approval of new vendors and who has access to them. It would also cover payment terms and authorizations along with describing detailed procedures for new vendor setup.

Benefits of a Financial Policy Manual

The overall purpose of every financial policy is to ensure that the business finances are enough to keep the business running. A financial policy ensures that resources are used efficiently and effectively and that accounting best practices are followed. Additionally, a transparent financial policy can protect employees from any financial risks that might occur without guidelines in place.

Steps to Create a Financial Policy for Your Small Business

  1. Determine why the policy is needed and an explanation of why. For example, all return requests and refunds must be cleared by business owner.
  2. Define terms of the policy. For our returns example, you might include the caveat that broken or damaged item returns do not need business owner approval.
  3. Outline the purpose for the policy, such as tighter budgetary controls over inventory.
  4. Identify who the policy applies to.
  5. Document the new policy in detail, circulate it for feedback and put into practice.
  6. Create a policy manual to be signed by all new hires during the onboarding process.

Free Financial Policy and Procedure Template

Need some help getting started? Here’s a template your small business can download and print to use as a guide to create your own business financial manual: Business Accounting Policy Manual.