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Build a chart of accounts

Design your chart of accounts before building it. Read this Guide first. Consult your accountant and attorney, if necessary. Once you have a basic structure in mind, remember that Manager will automatically add some accounts based on tabs (functions) you enable. So some accounts you want may be created for you. A few accounts may be added you did not realize you needed.

Default chart of accounts

When you first create a new business in Manager, it already has a simple chart of accounts. Find the chart of accounts by clicking on the Settings tab in the left navigation pane, then clicking the Chart of Accounts icon from the display that appears:

Whatever you may later name your business, Manager initially assumes it is called Brilliant Industries. (It has to be named something, because Manager doesn’t show things that are not there. So if everything were blank, it would be difficult to set up your business.)

Brilliant Industries’ default chart of accounts illustrates some key concepts. The Balance Sheet side includes three groups or categories in boldface type: Assets, Liabilities, and Equity. The Edit buttons for these groups are greyed out, because they cannot be edited. (If you read the Guide linked to above, you know that all balance sheet accounts must fall into one of these three groups.)

It also includes one account, Retained earnings within the Equity group. Retained earnings is an example of an automatically generated account. Every business needs this account. So while you can Edit it by renaming it or assigning it to another group, you cannot delete it. But more about that later.

Brilliant Industries’ chart of accounts also includes some common (but by no means universal) accounts for the Profit and Loss Statement in Income and Expense groups. You can use these groups and accounts, rename them for other purposes, or delete them to fit your planned chart of accounts structure (to save space, not all accounts are shown below):

Note
This chart of accounts will be your starting point. You will transform it into one tailored for your legal structure, market sector, and reporting needs. As you work on it, it will be helpful to frequently check your Summary page to see what affect your actions are having on the display. You may even want to consider your first draft a test business, into which you can make a few sample entries to see their effects. Those few transactions can be deleted and the test business’ data file copied, renamed, and opened as your real business.

Define groups first

A four-step, methodical approach will simplify building your chart of accounts. Begin by defining groups. This step is first because every account must be assigned to a group. In fact, if you neglect to assign an account, Manager will assign it for you to an automatic group, Uncategorized.

A group can be subsidiary to another group. So on the Balance Sheet side of Brilliant Industries’ chart of accounts, we will create two groups, Current assets and Plant, equipment, and property, and assign them to the Assets group. We click the New Group button, enter the group name and choose Assets in the dropdown box:

We’ll do something similar under Liabilities. Assets, Liabilities, and Equity always display in that order (by long tradition). But other groups will display alphabetically unless we assign positions in the Code field. So we add Code numbers to force the display order we want. The result looks like this (note how position numbers show in grey):

Moving to the Profit and Loss Statement side of the chart of accounts, we take several actions:

We use the Code field to order the groups. Our progress so far is shown below (again, some accounts have been eliminated to save space):

Add totals next

Interim subtotals and final totals are useful in accounting displays. Add them with the New Total button. Totals calculate a running summation of all groups above them in the chart of accounts. They are positioned with the same sequence of Code numbers as the groups and show with dashed underlines.

We add two totals and adjust position numbers to accommodate them:

Note
A bottom-line, net profit (loss) total can be added, named as desired. If one is not specifically created, Manager will automatically add one labeled Net profit when a profit exists. If the business has a loss for the reporting period, the default total will change to Net loss.

Activate automatic accounts

Several tabs and some settings activate accounts necessary to their functionality when they are enabled (or as soon as the first entry is made using them). If you plan to use any of these tabs (or need the accounts they activate), enable them now following procedures in this Guide. Automatic accounts are summarized in the table below:

We enable the Customers, Fixed Assets, and Inventory Items tabs for Brilliant Industries and make at least one entry in each tab. After reassigning accounts to appropriate groups, the Balance Sheet side of the chart of accounts looks like this:

And the Profit and Loss Statement side looks like this:

Add other desired accounts

Finally, add any remaining accounts from your plan. Assign these to relevant groups or subgroups. For example, we will add accounts for short- and long-term loans to the Balance Sheet. And since Brilliant Industries is a sole proprietorship, we will change the name of Retained earnings to Owner’s equity. Note how the original, automatically assigned name of this account remains visible in the chart of accounts; it will not show elsewhere in the program:

Similar additions can be made on the Profit and Loss Statement side.

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