"General Ledger" was not a Civil War hero, "Trial Balance" has nothing to do with the scales of justice, and "Unearned Income" is not what you pay your lazy brother-in-law.
If you aren't familiar with these and other accounting terms, you're not alone. But understanding and maintaining an accounting system are crucial to running a successful business. Accurate books allow you to make decisions about direction, expansion, marketing programs, hiring and other business activities; ease the preparation of income tax returns and operating budgets; and may be required by lenders and investors judging you not only by the numbers, but by the professionalism of your operating methods.
As a start-up, you probably can't afford a staff accountant, and you want to spend your time building your business, not learning and practicing bookkeeping. The Overnight Bookkeeper (Eagle Business Center, $139, 800-943-2392) can help: This tutorial package introduces you to bookkeeping and helps you create a complete bookkeeping and tax-filing system.
The package of four audiotapes, a computer diskette for PCs, and printed support materials and worksheets also "helps business owners test the bookkeeping and accounting skills of job applicants," says Mary Jo Heiden, owner of Eagle Business Center, a Wildomar, California, company that develops materials for tax preparers, tax practitioners and bookkeepers.