Keeping Count: An Accounting Primer for Small Businesses

Small Business Accounting - Complete Controller

In a business, you are involved in multiple activities that flow the money through your business. Fundamentally, you have money coming into small businesses and money going out of them. These money flows are referred to as transactions, and they can be both positive as well as harmful.

To manage this money, every business needs an accountant/bookkeeper who can formulate an accounting primer specific to the needs of that business. It must be designed so that all the basics are laid out and everyone is on the same page about how to proceed with the objectives. Check out America's Best Bookkeepers

Small businesses usually rely on a person who is considerably good at a particular skill. If there is more than one partner, the person most skillful in the field may end up managing that specific department. However, it has been observed that there is not a lot of accounting strength among entrepreneurs.

With persistence and a new accounting primer, business owners can develop a financial understanding that can help them manage current operations and future growth prospects. Here are some of the basics that are part of the primer for start-up businesses.

GAAP and Tax Basis for Small Businesses

After a lot of struggle and time, the accounting standard board has established generally accepted accounting standards (GAAP), responsible for the reliable reflection of business performance. It is different from the tax basis because the government taxation laws more influence the latter.

A newly developed business would not generally have specialties beyond filing a tax return. If that company needs bank financing or enters into a deal with other businesses, they would probably require your audited financial records. The records must conform to the GAAP to be approved by the involved parties. Check out America's Best Bookkeepers

Cash and Accrual Accounting Primer

When filing tax returns, small businesses must follow two methods to record their revenues and expenses. Following the cash system of recording, any business would recognize revenue when the check or money is received and similarly would record an expense when it goes out.

The entry is made when the actual transaction occurs and not when the revenues are earned, which is the case in the accrual system. Just like a construction firm would record the income at the time of work completion, even though they have not yet received the promised amount. The accrual method in the accounting primer is preferable as it portrays an accurate picture of business operations at any specific moment in time.

Small businesses usually opt for the cash method as it is manageable for them and significantly impacts the taxable income. However, if your business deals with a lot of inventory, it is better to opt for the accrual system of recording income and expenses.

Direct and Indirect Costs

Direct costs are the expenses directly related to the manufacturing or procurement of a product or service. In contrast, indirect costs are incurred regardless of how you acquire the product and cannot be directly tied to it.

The cost of buying all the components for a car plus direct labor costs can be termed direct costs, while rent, utility bills, and other similar costs are indirect costs in the given scenario. This is an important concept to grasp for small businesses as they must calculate the cost of making one additional unit. When pricing your products, you would need to know all the costs associated with them and, therefore, an accounting primer must include all the information related to it. Check out America's Best Bookkeepers

Inventory Management

Keeping track of your resources and using them is essential for businesses that desire to mark their presence in the market. There are two basic methods to keep track of your inventory which are called FIFO and LIFO. First in, first-out (FIFO) means that anything stored first in the inventory should leave first, and last in first out (LIFO) is just the opposite of that.

Both methods have their advantages and flaws. However, you may choose the one best suited to the needs of your business. The inventory price of some businesses fluctuates dramatically, and using the proper recording method becomes highly critical. The accounting primer for small businesses advocates the need for consulting professional assistance in such volatile markets.


Depreciation accounts for all of the expenses that occurred on fixed assets of a company. With time, machinery and other business fixed assets depreciate, which must be recognized on the books in a depreciation expense. Under the law, it is compulsory for all businesses that meet specific standards to record the depreciation expense. However, small businesses are allowed to incur it immediately, which can offer them tax relief.

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