One of the most important tasks facing a small business is keeping watch over the money flowing into its coffers and out to its vendors, employees and advisors. Fortunately, today's full-featured-yet inexpensive-accounting programs allow business owners to track and manage every aspect their companies' finances. And by automating income and expense information, a business can reduce its accounting expenses and save its accounting firm time and effort.
"The key to managing a business is knowing how it's doing by keeping accurate income and expenses records," says Eugene A. Schnyder, a CPA and emerging enterprise consultant in Shushan, New York. Even a moderately successful emerging business, however, soon outgrows cash-drawer/checkbook recordkeeping. The cash balance at the end of the day doesn't tell how well a business is doing, nor does it help in making business decisions. In the past, accounting records were maintained by hand, in columnar ledgers, which involved tallying transaction totals at the end of each week or month. A computerized accounting system can track and analyze considerably more information than a manual record system-and with less effort.
John Eason owns and operates Southeastern Sales & Specialties Inc. and Advanced Distribution Technologies Inc., software development and distribution companies in Carrollton, Georgia. "A typical start-up company tends to rely on its owner's ability to 'keep the figures' in his or her head," Eason says. "As the company grows, the owner's time is diverted from his or her area of expertise and to the areas he or she is usually less capable or experienced in-accounting, collections, determining costs and so on. The single most important factor for most businesses is cash flow and the ability to manage it properly. Most small-business owners don't know their true costs of doing business because they don't accurately track or monitor all the costs. They tend to discount their time and profits because of this. Small companies do the same things and need the same information as large companies. Selecting the proper accounting software can save most of the accounting costs incurred by a company and will give its banker confidence in the company's ability to provide proper, timely and accurate financial information."