Basics of accounting

Table of Contents

Introduction to Accounting Basics

Accounting is a fundamental aspect of running a successful business. It involves the systematic recording and reporting of financial transactions that provide a comprehensive picture of a company’s financial performance. With an accurate and organized accounting system in place, management can make informed decisions and track the progress of the business over time. This article will provide an overview of the basics of accounting and explain the essential components of an accounting system.

System of Record Keeping

At the heart of accounting is the need for an organized and efficient system of record keeping. This involves setting up accounts that categorize financial information based on its nature. The three main classifications of accounts are:

Assets: These are items that have been purchased or acquired by the company, but have not yet been consumed. Examples include accounts receivable and inventory.

Liabilities: These are obligations that the company has agreed to pay at a later date. Examples include accounts payable and loans payable.

Equity: This represents the ownership interest of the business owners and is calculated by subtracting liabilities from assets. Examples include common stock and preferred stock.

Revenue: This is the amount of money that a company earns from selling goods or services.

Expenses: These are the costs associated with running a business, such as rent and wages.


The process of accounting involves recording a wide range of business transactions. Some of these transactions are initiated by the accountant, while others are passed on from other departments. Regardless of their origin, transactions are recorded in the appropriate accounts to provide an accurate picture of a company’s financial position. Some key transactions include:

Purchasing materials and services: This involves issuing purchase orders and paying supplier invoices.

Selling goods and services to customers: This requires the creation of invoices that document the amount owed by customers.

Receiving payments from customers: This involves matching received payments with open invoices.

Paying employees: This involves collecting information about hours worked, calculating gross wages, and making deductions for taxes and other expenses to arrive at net pay.


Once all transactions have been recorded, the accountant aggregates the information from the various accounts and prepares financial statements. These statements provide a comprehensive picture of the company’s financial performance over a specified period and include:

Income Statement: This statement shows a company’s revenues and expenses for a specified period and calculates its net profit or loss. It provides a snapshot of the company’s ability to attract customers and operate efficiently.

Balance Sheet: This statement provides a picture of a company’s financial position at a specific point in time. It lists the company’s assets, liabilities, and equity and helps assess the company’s ability to pay its bills.

Statement of Cash Flows: This statement shows the sources and uses of cash during a specified period. It is particularly useful when there is a discrepancy between the amount of net income shown on the income statement and the net change in cash during the same period.

Additional Accounting Topics

The above overview of accounting basics is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many advanced topics that fall under the umbrella of accounting, including

Cost Accounting: This involves reviewing product costs, analyzing operating variances, and conducting profitability studies.

Internal Auditing: This involves reviewing internal records to ensure that transactions were processed correctly and that established controls are being followed by staff.

Tax Accounting: This involves planning to minimize or defer tax payments and filing various tax returns.

In conclusion, accounting is a critical aspect of running a successful business. By setting up a system of record keeping, recording transactions, and preparing financial statements, companies can gain valuable


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