Mastering Skills for Small Business Accounting

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Man using calculator for financial sums

Accountants are often the financial backbone of a small business. They help the business manage finances; understand financial data; and remain compliant with federal, state, and local finance laws. While a large business typically employs a team of accountants, a small business does not have that luxury; thus it must be more strategic in hiring an accountant.

A small business may only have one accountant due to company size. It is, therefore, important that the accountant be well-versed in small business accounting practices and regulations. Taking small business accounting classes can prepare students for a career in assisting business entities that are limited in size and revenue.

Small Businesses

All businesses, regardless of size, must track income and expenses, prepare tax filings, complete intricate financial transactions, and comply with finance laws. Accountants at both large and small companies need to be able to perform these tasks accurately and efficiently.

The U.S. Small Business Administration uses government standards to determine the criteria for which businesses qualify as small, and those calculations vary by industry. The criteria include a business’s number of employees over the latest 12-month period along with average annual receipts.

Accounting Principles

There are Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) that every accountant should know, regardless of whether they work for a large corporation or a small business. However, small business accountants might be better acquainted with the foundational principles that are used more in small business accounting.

Cash accounting is commonly used in small businesses, so it is important for an accountant to be familiar with this accounting method. Entries in a cash accounting system are made when cash is sent or received, making it simple for a small business to track earnings and expenses because the transactions occur when cash is moved.

Accountants must also prepare financial statements — balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements — to fully disclose earnings, expenses, and other financial data, as required by law. If these statements are not created accurately or at all, the small business may face financial penalties.

Master of Accounting Degree

The online Master of Accountancy (MAcc) — also known as Master of Science in Accounting — program from Ohio University is a robust course load that helps prepare students for a career in accounting. From small business principles to advanced financial analysis, students will learn complex accounting practices and theories as they complete the program.

While knowing a business’s finances is important to its success, accountants need to have more than math skills to make a lasting impact. The online MAcc program teaches students critical thinking and effective communication skills.


To enroll in the online MAcc program, students must have an undergraduate degree in accounting. If they do not, then they must first complete the following four courses:

  • Accounting for Executives
  • Intermediate Accounting Concepts
  • Advanced Accounting Concepts I
  • Advanced Accounting Concepts II

These foundational courses lay the groundwork for success in the rest of the program by teaching students the advanced accounting knowledge they need to progress through the specialized courses.

For the core courses, students can choose their own classes. The core courses will allow students to explore various accounting areas and can help shape their career paths.

Some of the core courses that students can complete as part of the online MAcc program are Advanced Managerial Decision Making and Professional Ethics and Communication. These core courses focus on accounting and management theory. Students will learn the importance of critical thinking and communication competence.

Additional core courses are Predictive Analytics and Advanced Tax Planning and Strategy. These classes give students the opportunity to learn and practice advanced accounting techniques.

Key Skills

The online MAcc program challenges students to think of accounting as much more than balance sheets and income statements. Accountants play key roles in businesses and can support leaders in their decision-making. The decisions that are made in businesses are typically made with a financial goal in mind. The program helps students gain the key skills needed to take on future business roles.

In the program, students practice advanced accounting techniques, including financial analysis, taxation, and accounting methodology. In addition to working with complex data sets, students learn how to analyze and communicate their evaluations effectively to those they support. This is crucial because accountants are often relied upon to provide accurate and up-to-date financial data.

Advanced Accounting Professionals Can Aid Small Businesses

When small businesses hire accountants, they are looking for skilled professionals with knowledge of a wide range of accounting fields and practices. An undergraduate degree in accounting provides an excellent foundation of accounting skills. An advanced degree builds on that foundation, turning it into expert-level skills and knowledge. Accountants with advanced degrees have the potential to significantly impact business, regardless of its size.

Learn More:

Find out more about how Ohio University’s online Master of Accountancy program strives to prepare students for success as financial professionals.

Recommended Reading

Ohio University Blog, “The Benefits of an Accounting Education”
Ohio University Blog, “Finance Degree vs. Accounting Degree: Two Paths Toward Careers in Asset Management”
Ohio University Blog, “Finance vs. Accounting: How Different Are They?”


Investopedia, “Generally Accepted Accounting Principles”
U.S. Small Business Administration, “How and Why to Determine If Your Business Is Small”
U.S. Small Business Administration, “Record Keeping for a Small Business”