Educate Yourself about Bookkeeping
Startups and experienced business owners alike realize the importance of keeping accurate business records. The financial aspect of a business is crucial to any company’s success. Even if a business owner plans to hire an accounting professional, the owner will benefit from having at least a basic knowledge of accounting. An understanding of bookkeeping and accounting principles will enable the business owner to have confidence that the company’s books are being kept properly. Increased understanding of accounting principles and relationships will allow the owner to analyze financial reports to make the best decisions to plan, budget, and grow the company and also to obtain financing.
An understanding of accounting could include developing sound bookkeeping techniques, choosing and becoming familiar with an accounting software package, and having some understanding of the impact that the changes and legal requirements of payroll and income taxes can have on the business. Many courses offered at local community colleges will expand a business owner’s knowledge of accounting in a meaningful way to help him or her better manage a business.
Currently, accounting is almost always done on the computer. Two of the main software choices for small businesses are QuickBooks and Peachtree Accounting software. A course in computerized accounting shows how to operate these software packages. A course or two in accounting principles will help the business owner understand how the data entered into the software affects the financial reports that will be used for planning and decision making later.
Linda Weber, successful owner and manager of Devils Lake Curves, a fitness center for women, realized early in her business venture that she could use training in computerized accounting. She enrolled and successfully completed a course in QuickBooks at Lake Region State College. She says, “You can never go wrong taking business courses. You will use them in all aspects of life--whether it’s managing a business or home. Without knowledge of accounting, you can’t run either one successfully. Computerized accounting software makes it easier to pinpoint areas of the budget where changes are needed to maximize profits.”
In addition to providing a 30-minute total body workout for Curves members, Weber also partners with the local community college to offer female students a chance to participate in a fitness program each semester and receive required credit hours for physical education courses.
Even if the business owner intends to outsource the payroll and income tax preparations, it is a good idea to take a basic payroll course and a basic income tax course to increase understanding in these areas. A payroll course highlights the cost of labor, its related payroll taxes, and the state and federal payroll laws and requirements that will need to be complied with and fulfilled. A basic federal income tax course will also help increase knowledge of different business-related tax items and possible ways to minimize tax liability. Courses in basic payroll and federal income tax are often also available at local community colleges.
No matter what type of business, there is always a need for accurate information to keep the business on sound financial footing. This information is necessary to file taxes, apply for loans, and successfully manage a business. Accurate business financial information is essential to not only have a record of receipts and expenditures, but will also help the owner decide what improvements need to be made or what practices need to continue to keep the company growing and successful. Your local community college might offer courses that will give you a basic knowledge in many areas of accounting, marketing, technology, and communication skills that can help a small business to prosper. [LRW]