1.1: Prelude to Accounting and its use in business decisions
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A career as an entrepreneur
When today’s college students are polled about their long-term career choice, a surprisingly large number respond that they wish to someday own and manage their own business. In fact, the aspiration to start a business, to be an entrepreneur, is nearly universal. It is widely acknowledged that a degree in accounting offers many advantages to a would-be entrepreneur. In fact, if you ask owners of small businesses which skill they wish they had more expertise in, they will very frequently reply “accounting”. No matter what the business may be, the owner and/or manager must be able to understand the accounting and financial consequences of business decisions.
Most successful entrepreneurs have learned that it takes a lot more than a great marketing idea or product innovation to make a successful business. There are many steps involved before an idea becomes a successful and rewarding business. Entrepreneurs must be able to raise capital, either from banks or investors. Once a business has been launched, the entrepreneur must be a manager—a manager of people, inventory, facilities, customer relationships, and relationships with the very banks and investors that provided the capital. Business owners quickly learn that in order to survive they need to be well-rounded, savvy individuals who can successfully manage these diverse relationships. An accounting education is ideal for providing this versatile background.
In addition to providing a good foundation for entrepreneurship in any business, an accounting degree offers other ways of building your own business. For example, a large percentage of public accountants work as sole proprietors—building and managing their own professional practice. This can be a very rewarding career, working closely with individuals and small businesses. One advantage of this career is that you can establish your practice in virtually any location ranging from large cities to rural settings. Finally, many accountants who have gained specialized expertise and experience in a particular field start their own practice as consultants. Expertise such as this, which may be in a field outside of traditional accounting practice, can generate billing rates well in the excess of USD 100 an hour.
The introduction to this text provided a background for your study of accounting. Now you are ready to learn about the forms of business organizations and the types of business activities they perform. This chapter presents the financial statements used by businesses. These financial statements show the results of decisions made by management. Investors, creditors, and managers use these statements in evaluating management’s past decisions and as a basis for making future decisions.