Business Owners: Stop doing accounting now!

If bookkeeping is so boring, why are so many business owners doing it?

I’ve studied accounting – a lot.  I studied it in business school (go Hoosiers!), I studied for the CPA exam, and have taken 100+ hours of continuing ed every year for the past 15+ years.  That’s a lot.

Every step along the way, I have been reminded by everyone – friends, clients, and family – that accounting is a boring task everyone wants to avoid.  I’ve gotten used to questions like: “How can you do that for a living?”

I get it.  Bookkeeping and accounting can be tedious and boring.  Very few people enjoy spending hours hunched over a keyboard staring at tiny figures on a monitor.

So, why is it that so many small business owners are doing so much bookkeeping?  The first thing a new business owner does is to get some business cards printed.  Before the ink is dry, she runs to the office supply store or logs on to Amazon and buys a copy of QuickBooks!  It’s like people start businesses because they secretly wanted to do bookkeeping!…Huh?

In my experience, most people will agree that:

  1. Accounting is important.  After all, it’s your money we’re talking about.
  2. Accounting and bookkeeping are technical skills, not clerical.  If you don’t think so, answer this:  How do you correctly claim depreciation expense for your new laptop or car?  And how will that affect your taxes?
  3. Small business owners are engaged in an epic battle for their time…there’s never enough time.  If you only had more time, you could really focus on building and growing your business, right?

There’s a lot to be gained by having an experienced accountant on your team – I mean someone who has worked with lots of small businesses.

So unless you’re an accountant, you probably shouldn’t hire yourself as an accountant.  Just STOP – it’s crazy!  And don’t hire your neighbor, or cousin, or Aunt Millie just because they know how to balance a checkbook.

The Bad News (this may sting a little bit):  If you’re doing your own accounting, your books are probably not in great shape – even if you think they are.  Unless you’re an experienced accountant, your books barely hint at the true amount of profit you’ve made or how much tax you might owe.  Yikes!

The Good News:  We estimate that an experienced small business accountant who truly specializes in small business bookkeeping, payroll and taxes will save a business owner between 150-200 hours per year.  In addition, they will help ensure that taxes are minimized and profits are accurately measured so the business owner can properly manage her business.

Seriously, I don’t care how small you think your business is – find and hire a good small business accountant to help you stay on top of your numbers each month.  They will save you lots of time, make sure that stuff gets done right and keep you out of trouble – all for a few hundred bucks a month.  Can we be sure Aunt Millie and that fresh copy of QuickBooks can duplicate those results?