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Count Me In

Scared of numbers? With these accounting tips, you won't be.

If you hated math in school and the idea of small-business accounting makes you want to hide, don't despair. A few quick tips can help you get a handle on accounting basics so you can achieve your financial goals.

First, keep track of what you spend and earn, says Deidre E. Newton, small-business growth strategist and president of Community Real Estate Services in West Palm Beach, Florida. Investing in an easy-to-use accounting software program can help. Newton suggests Peachtree Accounting for Windows, QuickBooks for Windows or Quicken Basic as good ones to try.

Second, structure your accounting and financial plan with the end result in mind--be it growth, securing a loan or an eventual sale of the business. Finally, drill the following phrases into your head: financial statement (a written record of your financial status), balance sheet (an accounting picture with the left side stating assets and the right side listing liabilities), retained earnings (net profits kept after liabilities are paid), and owners equity (the portion of the business belonging to the owners--also called stockholders equity).

To find free or low-cost accounting seminars in your area, contact local community colleges, SBA offices and Small Business Development Centers . Also check out the following resources for more information:

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This article was originally published in the April 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Count Me In.

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