Monday, March 21, 2011

Why do I have to do my accounting?

What is accounting really? Techniques or a language that allows you to keep track of the money coming in and going out of a business. Many people are uncomfortable with accounting because they are unfamiliar with the terminology. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to explain to friends struggling with an accounting class in college how assets could be debits, liabilities-credits while income was a credit and expenses were debits. They always thought assets and income should act the same way. I tried to get into the theory behind double entry accounting and how the balance sheet and income statement flow through each other, but some people just got bogged down with the terms.

The nice thing about the invention of accounting software programs is that the terminology has really become a non-issue. With QuickBooks or other programs, the user is filling out forms or writing checks and the program “writes” the entries for you so you don’t need to know whether you are debiting cash or crediting sales. Once you let your discomfort over the terminology go, you can focus on learning how to use the program. Modern software has nice features built in that require you to enter data such as customer names and addresses only once and then each time you invoice that customer, all that information is automatically entered into the form. Even better, once you’ve learned how to use your accounting software, you can really reap the benefits of good accounting by learning how to use the many reports the programs can generate.

The whole point to establishing a good accounting system is to provide you, the owner, with the information you need to run your business. The less time you spend on the bookkeeping portion of the accounting process, the more time you will have for the analysis portion. It is the analysis that will point out the questions your business is asking you. While modern accounting programs can’t answer the questions, but they can point you in the right direction and give you the information you need to find the answers.

A successful small business owner learns how to make the most from her accounting process by selecting the right program, learning how to use the software, learning how to read the financial statements and using all the great information to make the decisions needed to keep her business moving forward.


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