Things Every Entrepreneur Needs to Understand

Every entrepreneur should have a basic understanding of accounting practices and principles to effectively manage their business. Here are the key accounting concepts with which every entrepreneur should be familiar:

1. Financial Statements

Entrepreneurs should understand the three primary financial statements:

  • Income Statement (Profit and Loss Statement): Shows revenue, expenses, and net income over a specific period.
  • Balance Sheet: Provides a snapshot of a company’s assets, liabilities, and equity at a specific point in time.
  • Cash Flow Statement: Tracks cash inflows and outflows, helping to assess liquidity.

2. Accrual vs. Cash Accounting

Know the difference between accrual accounting (recording transactions when they occur, not when cash changes hands) and cash accounting (recording transactions when cash is received or paid). Understand which method of accounting is appropriate (or legally required) for your business.

3. Double-Entry Accounting

Understand the basic principle that every financial transaction affects at least two accounts, with debits and credits ensuring that the accounting equation (Assets = Liabilities + Equity) remains balanced. This is called double-entry accounting and is an essential element of business financial record-keeping.

4. Chart of Accounts

Be familiar with the structure of a chart of accounts, which organizes financial transactions into categories for reporting and analysis. This typically includes five main account types:

  • Assets
  • Equity
  • Revenue
  • Expenses
  • Liabilities

5. Revenue Recognition

Know when and how to recognize revenue based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) or applicable accounting standards.

6. Expense Tracking

Understand the importance of tracking and categorizing expenses accurately to determine profitability and make informed financial decisions.

7. Depreciation and Amortization

Learn about depreciation (for tangible assets) and amortization (for intangible assets) and how they affect financial statements. These are things every entrepreneur needs to understand in order to maximize tax deductions.

8. Cash Flow Management

Be able to manage and forecast cash flow effectively to ensure the business can meet its financial obligations.

9. Budgeting

Create and maintain budgets to plan for revenue and expenses, track performance against targets, and make informed financial decisions.

10. Taxation

Understand the tax obligations of the business, including income tax, payroll tax, sales tax, and any industry-specific taxes. Familiarize yourself with tax planning strategies.

11. Financial Ratios

Learn how to calculate and interpret financial ratios like liquidity ratios, profitability ratios, and leverage ratios to assess the financial health of the business.

12. Bank Reconciliation

Know how to reconcile bank statements with your accounting records to ensure accuracy and detect discrepancies.

13. Internal Controls

Implement internal controls in your accounting practices to safeguard assets, prevent fraud, and ensure the integrity of financial transactions.

14. Audits and Financial Reporting

Familiarize yourself with the requirements for financial audits and reporting, especially if your business is subject to regulatory or investor scrutiny.

15. Accounting Software

Consider using accounting software to streamline record-keeping and financial management tasks.

16. Professional Help

Recognize when to seek assistance from outsourced CFOs, accountants, bookkeepers, or financial advisors for complex accounting matters or strategic financial planning.

17. Financial Literacy

Continuously improve your financial literacy by reading books, taking courses, and staying informed about changes in accounting practices, standards and regulations.

18. Financial Planning

Develop a financial plan that aligns with your business goals and helps you make informed decisions about investments, expansion, and resource allocation.

19. Cash vs. Profit

Understand that profitability (net income) does not always equal positive cash flow, and vice versa. Managing both is crucial.

20. Ethical Considerations

Adhere to ethical accounting practices and maintain the highest level of integrity in financial reporting and decision-making.



While entrepreneurs don’t need to become professional accountants, having a solid foundation in accounting principles and practices will enable them to make informed financial decisions, communicate effectively with financial professionals, and ensure the financial health and success of their business.

If the task of dealing with these financial considerations seems daunting, there are resources to help you. Contact Preferred CFO today and learn how your company can benefit from using expert outsourced financial services.


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About the Author

Todd Kemp


Todd Kemp is a high-level CFO with significant experience in private-equity-sponsored as well as publicly traded corporations in the manufacturing, distribution, and B2B services industries. Todd is also experienced in merger & acquisition valuations and due diligence, as well as managing financial teams of varying sizes.

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