Often I run into someone and they ask “aren’t you in accounting?” While I am in accounting, which is the methodology and measuring aspect of my work, the profession as a whole is better labeled as ‘accountancy’.
Accountancy is the profession and accounting is the methods by which accountants measure, track and report on financial information so that resource allocation decisions can be made by, well, whoever the decision makers are.
For a small business owner’s personal finances, as an example, I may be measuring the finances of a few people (the family), and reporting the necessary information to the small business owner. In this situation, the decision maker is the small business owner and his decisions involve deciding how much money he has to put toward family necessities.
Generally speaking, there are two main types of accounting. There is financial accounting and there is auditing. Financial accounting typically involves processing of financial information about a business operation where information is recorded, organized, summarized, interpreted and finally communicated.
Auditing, on the other hand, is the process that an independent auditor uses to examine accounting records and financial statements so that he or she can express a professional opinion about the financial records and answer questions about projections.
At the heart of accountancy lies the need to take stock of the day to day state of various sales and expenses. In the modern world when many contracts are partially fulfilled at varying times, bookkeeping is the only way to know where you and your business stand in the greater scheme of things.
If you operate your own small business, you may be able to do just fine with some accounting software. Take a look around for some flowchart templates. These can make monthly financial recording and reporting, dare I say it, fun. Simply enter in the various types of income and expenses, then each subsection updates the appropriate fields. Before you know it you’ve got proof that all bills have been allotted for and you’ve got your bottom line.
If you find you can manage your business finances on your own, then, by all means, stick with the system that you know works for you. If, however, you start running into complications that make it hard for you to see where discrepancies are coming from, it may be time to enlist the services of a professional accountant.