There are several good books available in the market to learn business accounting, all aimed at readers with varying levels of knowledge. Some of the good ones are as follows:
Accounting All-in-One For Dummies, Kenneth Boyd, Lita Epstein, Mark P. Holtzman, Frimette Kass-Shraibman, Maire Loughran, Vijay S. Sampath, John A. Tracy, Tage C. Tracy, and Jill Gilbert Welytok, Wiley, 2014
As always, the Dummies series is great for beginners, and its Accounting book is actually a selected compilation of works (this is the reason why there are nine authors), carefully condensed to make Accounting easy to understand for newbies to the field. So you can go ahead and purchase it if accounting concepts are too hard for you to understand and make your head spin, that you would rather concentrate on doing business and leave your bookkeeping to an accountant.
It teaches you how you can set up an accounting system, record financial transactions in line with accounting standards, adjust entries (and even close them), prepare balance sheets and income statements, report financial statements, plan and budget for your small business. Everything is explained in a simple way; and by the time you get to the end of the book, you might no longer need an accountant to balance your books – you could do it yourself!
Accounting Made Simple – Accounting Explained in 100 Pages or Less, Mike Piper, Lightning Source Inc., 2012
This is an easy-to-understand book that introduces basic concepts like financial ratios, amortization and how to calculate depreciation. For instance, amortization is nothing more than paying off debt in regular installments and in accordance with a previously-agreed upon schedule; just like your car loan. This book breaks down a lot of financial jargon / fancy terms that accountants use into plain English. And true to its name, it is not voluminous – it consists of just 97 pages, so you can be sure that you are not buying an encyclopedia or lexicon of financial terms.
Neither is it too bulky. It is just about a quarter of an inch thick and measures five inches across and eight inches high. This means that it is very handy and can be carried around without much effort. So you could take it wherever you go and read it while you are on the move or in a park.
The book also touches upon Generally Accepted Accounting Practices. It teaches you how to read a financial statement. This is likely to be helpful when going through the financial statements of your competitors that are in the public domain. You would be able to find out where you stand with respect to them – whether they are miles ahead of you that you need to catch up if you are to stay in the game; or whether you are doing better than them already. In case it is the latter, you would need to stay ahead of them. It also explains why it is important to prepare financial statements – these reflect the financial health of your business, and could encourage potential investors to buy a stake in your company. Following a general standard also makes it a lot easier when there is more than one year of financial data, because you are unlikely to remember what happened last July and the taxmen want to know.
The Tax and Legal Playbook: Game-Changing Solutions to Your Small Business Questions, Mark J. Kohler, Entrepreneur Press, 2015
Mark J. Kohler is both an attorney and a qualified CPA. In fact, he is senior partner at a law firm, and also at an accounting firm. He is the author of ‘Lawyers are Liars’ and ‘What Your CPA Isn’t Telling You’. In this book, he explains things like tax write-offs and also outlines several things you need to watch out for, to avoid being pulled up for tax fraud and/or evasion.
It also tells you why you need to have a financial strategy in place. You ought to know not only about business accounting, but also how to do it correctly – this could help you save thousands of dollars.
Intermediate Accounting, Donald E. Kieso, Jerry J. Weygandt, Terry D. Warfield, John Wiley & Sons, 2016 (16th Edition)
This is a massive 1468-page book (split into two volumes for reading convenience) that covers almost everything you need to know about accounting. If you notice carefully, this is the latest edition at the time of writing – the book has seen several revisions to include the latest accounting practices. It is immensely popular because although the title reads ‘Intermediate Accounting’, it has been written in such a way that even a beginner could understand the finer nuances of accounting. It is used by students of Accounting to prepare for their CPA examinations, and your own CPA still probably consults it from time to time – several accounting firms use it for reference.
Because a new book costs over $200, it is recommended that you buy a slightly dated version, like the 14th Edition which came out in 2013, for a tenth or the price or even less – there are used books selling for less than $10. There is still a lot of information to be had, and you could understand business accounting practices better, even if your existing knowledge of the field is zero.
A Brief History of Economic Genius, Paul Strathern, Texere, 2004
This is a book which helps you to understand why you need accounting in the first place. At first, there was economics, and this actually came into being as a field of study to help small businessmen get the most out of their efforts. Strathern explains this with the help of examples, such as that of two men shipwrecked on a deserted island. One has a sack of rice, while the other has 200 gold bracelets. In the open market, one gold bracelet could be traded for a sack of rice, but here, the man with the rice could demand much more; or even refuse to trade at all. Strathern explains contracts theory this way; and business accounting is nothing but breaking economics down into ratios, numbers and figures for each person/company that is involved.
It doesn’t read like Adam Smith’s ‘An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations’, which you might have encountered in high school; so you can purchase this for some light reading. If you really want to know more about Business Accounting, it is sure to help.
Accounting, Carl S. Warren, Jim Reeve, Jonathan Duchac, 2013 (25th Edition)
This book is intended as a textbook for Accounting students, explaining concepts and practices from scratch as if its readers are new to the field (it even uses cartoons to them understand the contents better). It has been written in a ‘fun’ way, so that anyone reading it is bound to understand something as complex as Accounting. If anything, the complaint is that it is too ‘noisy’. Even if you start at the beginning, you are sure to get through all the way to the end – it is that interesting!
The fact it has seen 26 editions is only a testament to its popularity.
There are also Excel templates that help you to put the theory into practice, helping you to understand Accounting practices better. The book is all of 1360 pages and costs nearly $400, but you could pick up used/older versions for less than a dollar. When it comes to Accounting, the basics remain the same. Only the latest Accounting practices are included with each edition. If you are just trying to learn how things work, this is highly recommended.
The Accounting Game: Basic Accounting Fresh from the Lemonade Stand Revised Edition, Darrell Mullis, Judith Orloff, Sourcebooks, 2008
This is a book which makes a dry subject like Accounting fun and easy to understand. It describes things right from the concept of a small business – a lemonade stand. With this, you will be able to understand why different accounting terms and ratios exist, and also how you can make the best use of them for your business.
Your own income statement might turn out differently if you used different Accounting practices, and your tax liabilities would vary accordingly. This is the reason why there are Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP). This book explains all of that in a light way. The reason why it has been written this way is because the publishers intend the contents to reach and reside in your long-term memory.
Even if you know how to read a balance sheet, this book is sure to help you view the same in a new light. Even MBAs have benefited by this book, and reading it is like having a personal tutor beside you, explaining everything.
Bookkeeping All-In-One For Dummies, Peter J. Sander, Janet Haley, Lita Epstein, Wiley, 2015
Learning Business Accounting is good, and applying it to your small business is even better. This book teaches you how to report profits, explains the various headers on a balance sheet like assets, liabilities and equity, and also elucidates other concepts like income statements, cash flow statements, payroll, employer-paid taxes, depreciation, interest, cash, budgeting, cost accounting, business taxes, and preparing for a new accounting cycle.
It further tells you how to manage sales, creating a filing system, and enlightens you on the right paperwork to be completed. You can also computerize the whole process, and protect yourself against internal fraud. It touches upon financial fraud, and how you steer clear of it; plus other topics like stock, and what to do when dealing with vendors. In short, this is your best book if you want to learn about Business Accounting and have no clue where to start.
Accounting for Small Business Owners, Tycho Press, 2015
This goes beyond bookkeeping and reveals the hidden costs of doing business, such as overheads. It is only about 123 pages long, but filled with tables that clearly demonstrate how Business Accounting is to be done; and has absolutely no mention of accounting software. It teaches you how to do everything by hand; and while this may not exactly be the best way you want to be doing it, you will know how programs crunch numbers that are fed into it and report the data.
It can come in quite handy as it tells you how to run a small business successfully. If you are struggling with your accounts, this is the small business accounting book for you.
Accounting for the Numberphobic: A Survival Guide for Small Business Owners, Dawn Fotopulos, Taylor Trade Publishing, 2013 (13th Edition)
While there are accountants to handle your bookkeeping, the truth is that no one will ever be as invested in your business as you. It reads like a novel, and so you should have no difficulty sailing through the 270-odd pages that contain case studies to help you understand Business Accounting concepts better. It is not a ‘serious’ book, and can make you a beginner in the field if you are starting from zero.
Small Time Operator: How to Start Your Own Business, Keep Your Books, Pay Your Taxes, and Stay Out of Trouble, Bernard B. Kamoroff, Taylor Trade Publishing, 2013 (13th Edition)
Everything about a small business is related to Accounting. This book, written by a CPA, teaches you about local, state and federal taxes, how to deal with the IRS (it actually tells you how you can avoid them if you do your accounting right), pricing, contracts, business loans, financing, raising capital, insurance, tax deductions et al – and reporting them, so that everyone is happy at the end.
The number of editions since the original was published is an indicator of how popular a book is – and this is achieved only if it benefits a large number and so much that people buy enough copies, warranting the next edition. This book is the #1 bestseller in the ‘Small Business Taxes’ category.
There are several books which cater to those with different levels of knowledge about Business Accounting. Whether you are starting out, have some basic knowledge, or are fairly conversant with the field, these books can take you to the level of a pro; and make you fairly self-sufficient when it comes to Business Accounting. You no longer need rely on your CPA for everything, but if things do get too complicated don’t hesitate to look into hiring a small business accountant.