Have you ever considered a career in accounting? If so, then this field has many rewarding opportunities for you. The accounting field is one of those industries that can offer a variety of career paths for your consideration. From taxation to cost accounting, auditing or general accounting, this field of study provides many career choices based on your core area of interest. Want to learn more? If so, below is additional information about the benefits of working as a small business accountant, the roles and responsibilities required, and what you can do to prepare for a career as an accountant.
The Benefits of Working as a Small Business Accountant
There are many benefits associated with working as a small business accountant. For example, this field offers both a specialized expertise focus, as well an opportunity to work in a wide array of industries. There are plenty of industries and businesses that solicit the help of accountants, including restaurants, healthcare organizations, non-profits, retailers and more. Many corporations and small businesses must maintain adequate financial records, so there’s always a need for a well-trained accountant. These small businesses and corporations must also adhere to federal and state regulations by reporting and paying monthly, quarterly or annual taxes, paying estimated taxes, collecting and paying payroll taxes, and other industry specific requirements. That’s where you come in. As a well-trained small business accountant, there will be a demand for your services at many small businesses.
What Does a Small Business Accountant Do?
Once you’ve acquired the skills and education needed to perform small business accounting services, you can either work for a small company, or work for yourself by starting your own accounting firm or implementing your accounting skills in a business that you already operate. The job of a small business accountant involves analysis, sorting, posting, accounts payable, accounts receivable, collections, reconciling the bank statements, creating financial reports and reporting, recording and paying tax liabilities and a combination of other tasks.
Analysis and Sorting
Before any accounting work can begin, the accountant is responsible for analyzing and sorting the daily financial activity. This includes analyzing physical or online receipts, invoices, bills, purchase orders and other financial documents. The accountant must first determine what each document is, and which accounts are associated with them. After analyzing each document, the accountant will need to sort them and place them in the proper categories. Having the proper training in advance will allow the small business accountant to determine if their daily financial documents consist of regular monthly expenses, capital expenditures, purchases associated with the cost of sales, general and administrative expenses, reimbursement expenses and so forth.
In addition to sorting through the financial documents that are associated with expenditures, they will also need to analyze the various sources of revenue that flows into the company and record the information accordingly. Most income received is associated with sales, but there are exceptions, such as credits, bank adjustments, interest and gains received from investment accounts or the sale of assets.
After a small business accountant has analyzed and sorted through all the financial documents received daily, they will enter the information into an accounting system, placed in the correct accounts. However, to do this adequately, they will need to ensure that the chart of accounts have been set up appropriately based on the industry that the small business accountant, their client or their employer operates in.
Although the chart of accounts may be set up before a small business accountant come on board, they will need to become familiar with it and make sure that it’s consistent with the industry as well as the typical activities that take place on a regular basis.
Having the right understanding of these fundamentals will allow the small business accountant to use this information to create the building blocks needed to perform additional accounting activities.
Accounts payables is another common task that a small business accountant would normally perform. They would be responsible for making sure that not only are the bills paid on time, but that any payment terms are fully taken advantage of. For example, invoice terms such as 2%/10, Net 30 can save the company money. What this term means is that the total invoice is due in 30 days, but if it’s paid within 10 days a 2% discount will be given.
Accounts payables consist of paying bills that are due regardless of the type of expenditure, such as loan repayments, ongoing monthly expenses, payments to independent contractors, and invoices associated with purchase orders used to fulfill sales orders.
Small business accountants are often responsible for accounts receivables. This task involves invoicing customers, receiving and often making bank deposits for money received from customers for sales made.
Collections, another form of accounts receivable, is also a task that a small business accountant may take on. This task involves making an attempt to collect past due payments that have been sitting on the books for a significant period of time.
Reconciling the Bank Statements
Bank reconciliations are another common task that accountants perform on a monthly basis. Bank reconciliation is performed for each bank account that a company may have. This process involves comparing the bank activity to the activity that took place on the books and making any adjustments accordingly. Basically, the reconciliation would be between the activity that took place in the cash account and the corresponding bank account.
In addition to reconciling bank statements that are associated with cash accounts, there’s also the reconciliation of credit cards that must take place as well.
Creating Financial Reports and Reporting
Financial reporting is a very crucial part of accounting. In the first section we talked about analyzing and sorting daily financial records as well as posting that information into the accounting system– this process is the initial part of building financial reports.
The financial reports are very important because they will be needed by management at any given time. They are used to help management make important business decisions. For example, financial reports help managers decide on which bills to pay, who owes them money, and how much may be owed in payroll taxes, sales taxes, income taxes.
Financial reports also allow managers to identify various financial trends that take place either from month to month or from year to year. These patterns or trends also help managers make specific business decisions. For example, because of the financial reports that have been prepared, a business owner or manager may notice an increase in sales between October and December each year. Being armed with this information helps managers plan better. They may need to increase their inventory to fulfill more orders during this time period, purchase or lease new equipment or hire extra staff.
The main financial reports that accountants create consist of the income statement, the balance sheet and the statement of cash flow. However, there is a wide array of customized reports that may be requested as well.
A small business accountant would also take on the task of reporting. This consists of becoming aware of how daily financial activities impact the cash accounts, and other important elements and pointing it out to management. For example, if a company spent more money on marketing during a specific period, the small business accountant can observe how it impacts sales and the bottom line in general. The accountant can make recommendations based on whether the company earned a return on their investment as a result of spending more on marketing.
Another critical point that a small business accountant is responsible for as it relates to reporting is monitoring the cash account and any changes that create a negative cash flow. For example, if a company is generating sales but most of their customers pay on terms, say for 30, 60 or even 90 days after the sale is made, this can have a significant impact on the cash account. It’s important for the accountant to report this information to managers so they can make alternate decisions accordingly.
Recording and Paying Tax Liabilities
Many companies are responsible for paying a wide variety of taxes including sales taxes, income taxes, property taxes, and city taxes. It’s important for small business accountants to maintain their financial records so that business owners can estimate their tax liabilities.
In addition to maintaining a company‘s financial records, accountants are also responsible for paying estimated taxes to the IRS, which typically is required on a quarterly basis.
The combined tasks associated with working as a small business accountant are many. A variety of assignments need to be juggled and multiple deadlines need to be met. The best way to tackle this is to segment the workload into daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual tasks.
Obtaining an Accounting Degree from a Vocational School
One of the best ways to acquire skills to become a small business accountant is to obtain an accounting degree from a vocational school. It offers all the fundamentals and accounting principles that are required to work as a successful accountant.
Skills Needed to become a Successful Small Business Accountant?
If you’ve developed an interest in becoming a small business accountant, you will need specialized skills that will prepare you to work in this capacity. However, you will need to have great attention to detail, communication skills, a basic understanding of college math, and basic business skills. Also, participating in an accounting externship program can significantly contribute to becoming a successful accountant.
Interested in learning more about small business accounting? The Accounting diploma program at Gwinnett College is designed to prepare college graduates to seek entry-level positions in the accounting and bookkeeping fields. The college graduate may work as an accounts’ receivable or accounts payable clerk, bookkeeper, payroll clerk, accounting assistant or inventory control clerk.
The Gwinnett College accounting vocational diploma training programs trains college students to prepare financial statements and perform common accounting tasks with accounting computer applications. The computer applications include bookkeeping software, spreadsheets and databases. The accounting diploma training program covers fundamental accounting concepts, that include journalizing, posting, adjusting, closing, cost accounting, assets, liabilities, amortization, depreciation and tax liability. Also included in the courses are reconciliation of income statements, balance sheets, accounts receivable, accounts payable and general ledger.
Contact us to learn more about how you can become an accountant or bookkeeper today.