Shouldn't I Be Able to Do My Own Accounting?
My husband, Steve, consults with small businesses that he calls "underdogs"—businesses that rely primarily on the skills and efforts of their owner/operators. He helps them identify their "super powers" that they bring to their businesses. He used an example the other day that struck me as particularly applicable to promotional products distributors:
We all know what Superman's super powers are: He leaps tall buildings in a single bound; he is faster than a speeding bullet; he fights crime. And he does an amazing job of that. Do we expect Superman to know how to do accounting or run an office? Of course not! Nor do we think any less of him for it. I can't imagine that Superman would be any good at those things or like doing them. It's not the highest and best use of his time.
I get calls on a regular basis from distributors who sheepishly tell me that they haven't kept their books, don't know how to do that and have a complete mess, or just flat out don't like doing it. That's OK!
Distributors generally are great, creative salespeople—a skill set that is rare and valuable. It's one you should build on and appreciate. It's the major "super power" that you bring to your business. Applaud yourself for that.
How you spend your time to the best of your advantage comes down to the following:
- What are your super powers?
- Do you love using your super powers in your business?
- How can you develop your super powers?
- How can you best use your time for the sake of your business, your family and yourself?
To answer the accounting conundrum, consider these questions:
- Is accounting one of your super powers?
- Do you know enough accounting to keep good financial records?
- Is it worth your time, effort and money to learn how to do this?
- Do you like doing this type of work?
- What if the time spent with accounting functions were invested elsewhere? How could you better spend your time?
For some distributors, keeping your own financial records could be cathartic and a welcome break from selling. (It was for me as a distributor.) For others, it is a chore to be dreaded that can take more time and effort thinking about doing it than actually doing it.
Tell me, what is your super power? How is your time best spent?
Please email accounting questions you would like considered for the column to HGatter@AccountingSupportLLC.com with the subject line of "Ask the Accountant."
Harriet Gatter, owner of Accounting Support LLC, was an ad specialty distributor for 23 years and an adjunct professor of accounting at Neumann University. She sold her ad specialty business in 2012, became certified as a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and now works exclusively with ad specialty distributors nationwide on their QuickBooks, order management and accounting needs.