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Best Accounting Books for Small Business Owners Who Hate Bookkeeping

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A key lesson entrepreneurs find themselves learning early on is that they have to be willing to wear multiple hats to keep their business up and running. One of those very important “hats” is bookkeeping.

Many small business owners cringe at the idea of a financial statement and tend to quickly hire an accountant to manage the numbers. After all, who has the time or energy to keep up with tax law intricacies when you’re busy juggling the many other responsibilities required of you?

Here’s the harsh reality: you have the time. Or you’ll make the time. Because no matter how fantastic your accountant is, no one is going to be as invested in your company as you. It’s smart for you to understand the numbers game. That is, understand how accounting concepts affect your ROI and recognize what financial indicators say about the overall financial health of your business.

Sure, accounting software programs are the most up-to-date latest and greatest tools when it comes to getting organized with your bookkeeping, but good, old-fashioned books can explain how an entry on the financial statement can affect an entry on a profit sheet and help you steer clear of common financial mistakes made by small business owners.

6 best accounting books for business owners

Below are the six best accounting books for people who hate bookkeeping, but still want a clearer, bigger and more holistic picture of their business’s bottom line.

1. “Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits”

With more than three decades of accounting experience, small business owners are in good hands with Greg Crabtree’s jargon-free and easy-to-follow step-by-step guide to increasing profitability.

Even if you dread dealing with numbers and balance sheets, don’t be surprised when you realize at the end of this book that understanding how your financial statements – that’s the profit and loss statement, balance sheet and statement of cash flows – work together isn’t so painful when you can generate savings and discover money that can be put back into your business.

This book leads small business owners toward a path of growth by teaching them how to make business decisions based on numbers on the financial statements, why a financial forecast is needed instead of a budget, how entrepreneurs should pay themselves, and why a salary cap is needed.

2. “J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes 2018: Your Complete Guide to a Better Bottom Line”

Changing tax laws is enough to give anyone a headache, so why not depend on Barbara Weltman, an attorney, small business advisor and the brains behind the “Big Ideas for Small Business” blog, to provide everything you need to know on the latest developments from Congress and the IRS?

What’s great about this book is that there’s a complete, updated listing of all business deductions and credits that can be used on your filing. Weltman breaks down critical information on dollar limits and how to take the write-off, even providing instructions down to the entry line on tax forms.

3. “Accounting for the Numberphobic: A Survival Guide for Small Business Owners”

Just like the book title suggests, this is the book for everyone who’s ever canceled a meeting with their accountant because they’re a “numberphobic.”

In this book, author Dawn Fotopulos thoughtfully explains how to use your financial statements as a dashboard on all key business decisions, and how those statements can steer your business into maximum profitability.

This book also reveals all the things you might be doing to hurt your business, like not managing the rest of your finances properly when your revenue increases.


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4. “The Tax and Legal Playbook: Game-Changing Solutions to Your Small-Business Questions”

CPA and attorney Mark J. Kohler is there for businesses across all stages in this comprehensive playbook, which provides everything a smart business owner needs to know from “the ins and outs behind fundamental business decisions” to tax and legal strategies that can save you money.

Kohler also instills knowledge on common mistakes to avoid, how to protect your business’s assets, and how to plan for retirement. One of the best parts about this book is that all of that knowledge is laid out in easy-to-follow, real-world examples.

5. “Small Time Operator: How to Start Your Own Business, Keep Your Books, Pay Your Taxes, and Stay Out of Trouble”

This edition of Bernard B. Kamoroff’s book focuses on helping small businesses in the

gig economy. Aside from the general money advice, Kamoroff, a University of California lecturer and CPA specializing in small business, explains how to set up a business model that is sometimes “nothing more than a mobile app that connects people who need some type of service.”

Being in the gig economy can make IRS requirements intimidating, but Kamoroff’s book provides extremely detailed and easy-to-understand instructions on creating a business plan, dealing with (and avoiding) the IRS, when to incorporate, and how to establish a good bookkeeping system from the start.

6. “How to Read a Financial Report: Wringing Vital Signs Out of the Numbers”

Ever wonder how a line item in a balance sheet can affect an entry in the income statement? If this all sounds like a foreign language to you, don’t worry: authors Tage Tracy and John A. Tracy, an award-winning professor of accounting, explain the connections between your business’s financial statements and tie it all together.

No matter how much you hate numbers, the reality is, you can’t run a business without learning how to read a financial report – and understanding what it means for your business. This book will teach you how to do just that, so that you can have a handle on profit and cash flow to maximize your business’s bottom line.

The bottom line

It’s true what they say: the things we fear most are usually the things we don’t understand. For many small business owners, that “thing” is the financial black hole where there are too many rules for any sane person – especially a busy business owner – to remember. However, not understanding the rules is the first step to leaving money on the table.

No matter how intimidated you are by numbers, the books on this list can help break them down so that there’s meaning behind them. And once you start understanding, the numbers become much less intimidating – and they’ll start becoming guides to higher ROI and growth.


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