If you’re like most people out there, just hearing the word “accounting” probably sends your brain off to sleep. You probably think accounting is hard. And boring. And for old people.
Well, the good news is, that’s not entirely true. Accounting can actually be extremely interesting. In fact, a large part of accounting is basically learning about how to make more money. And most people find making money a lot of fun J.
What is accounting?
Accounting can be defined as the production of financial information.
What this means is accounting allows us to see things like how much money you are earning, how much you are worth, how much money you spend and where you can improve to make even more money! The reason we need to know this is so we can make decisions.
Consider this scenario:
You run a bakery and you bake the best cream cake in the country. It is world famous and you receive orders for your legendary cake from every continent!
However, one night a fanatic customer who believes you have a magic oven breaks into your bakery and steals it. You go ballistic.
You need $10,000 to buy a new oven. You decide to go to the bank and ask for a loan.
You ask the bank for a $10,000 loan. The thing is, you don’t even have an accountant, so you do not have any financial information about your bakery.
The loan officer is a pretty lady named Anne.
Anne asks how much profit you made this year. You don’t know so you guess. You say it was maybe $30,000.
She asks you how much your assets are worth. You have no idea.
She asks how much debt you have. You’re not sure.
She asks what your cash flow is each month. You don’t even know what that means.
Because you have no financial information, Anne says no.
Now let’s say you go and find an accountant, who prepares some financial records for you. You return to the bank with the following information.You have $5,000 of cash in the bank.
- You have sold $52,000 worth of cakes this year.
- This year you made a profit of $27,000, and profit has been increasing at an average rate of 6% per year for the last 3 years.
- Your operating expenses are $25,000 this year. The largest is wages at $11,000 per year. The next largest is advertising at $7,500 per year. The smallest is telephone expenses at $600 per year.
- Your bakery has net assets of $122,000 and no debt.
- Your bakery had a net positive cash flow of $13,000 this year.
Now you can tell Anne the loan officer exactly how much money you make, how much you spend, what you spend it on, how much you owe, how much you have in the bank, and how much your assets are worth.
Because she now has information, she is able to make a decision to loan you the money. This is because she knows how much money you make each month and can be confident you will be able to repay the loan.
Now, don’t worry if you don’t understand all the fancy terms up there like “cash flow” and “net assets”. We’ll be learning what all that means very soon.
So, what does accounting do for us? I’m sure you already know that when you’re in business, you need to know whether you’re making money or not. Well, accounting helps you determine exactly that! And remember, it’s important for the people you do business with (like the loan officer) to know that too.
Even if you’re not in business, chances are you work for somebody that is. Whether you fix the computers, write advertisements or makes sales over the phone, your role is designed to help your employer achieve one key objective – making a profit. Your ability to understand financial information makes you that much more valuable, not only to your employer but to your clients and customers too. By understanding accounting, you have the ability to understand how a business makes money, making you a more complete professional and connecting you with your employer, your clients and their goals.
We also cannot forget the benefits of good personal finance. Accounting is as much a personal tool as it is a business one. Money is a big problem for many people all over the world. Perhaps you are finding it difficult to make ends meet, or maybe you’re trying to save for a vacation but can’t seem to figure out where all your money goes. Accountancy provides you with the skills you need to manage your money, where you can trace and categorise your expenses and effectively budget your income. This allows you to determine exactly how much you spend on non-essentials such as movies and fancy dinners, while also ensuring the important stuff such as rent and food for the family is always paid on time.