While accounting is a function you can handle without a dedicated accountant, there’s certainly a lot you’ll need to understand first. Accountants typically require specialized schooling and training before they can even begin their career. Life is definitely harder in a small business without an accountant, but you can manage it if you’re committed to honing a few skills. Check out the rest of this article to learn what skills are necessary for success in small business accounting functions!

Accounting is a Demanding Field

There’s no question that accounting is quite a demanding field. Any field that requires you to go to school and complete several years of training definitely suggests that. Not only do you require specific knowledge, but the very rules and regulations of accounting are subject to change each year.

In a previous year it might have been acceptable to handle a transaction one way, but that may no longer be the case this year. With such a rapidly changing environment, it can be near-impossible to keep up, especially if it isn’t the only thing you do for work. It is important that you are aware of this so you take proactive measures to stay informed, otherwise your business will suffer.


One of the most important skills anyone trying to juggle accounting functions can have is the ability to pay close attention to detail. When it comes to accounting, it is all about the details. Every little thing and where it went matters.

There are tons of transactions and numbers you’ll have to look at, and if you’re unable to quickly identify errors and discrepancies, you’ll make a lot of mistakes. Part of identifying errors is also knowing what the correct thing to do is in the first place, something a detail-oriented person would likely know.

Time Management

Another critical skill for accounting is good time management skills. There are several responsibilities you’ll have within the accounting function, so it’s important to know how to prioritize everything. Since you’ll already have a limited amount of time to spend on accounting, it is imperative that you spend your time correctly. There is always something that could be done, but does that mean it should be? Great accountants can prioritize and spend their time wisely.

Critical Analysis

Anyone handling anything to do with accounting needs to be able to perform critical analysis. If you don’t have the training of an accountant, then you’re probably walking in blind. This means that you’ll need to research everything beforehand, which requires the ability to distinguish what is actually correct based on what you have before you.

Not only do you need to critically analyze how to perform accounting tasks, but you’ll also want to analyze the data you work with to make sure everything looks correct.

Business Acumen

Something else that shouldn’t be overlooked is business acumen. Business acumen refers how capable someone is at assessing and directing a situation to a favorable result. This also requires the use of critical analysis, but is more concerned with strategic planning and execution.

It is how someone fares when they’re thrown into the fire, required to quickly act without having time to sit back and dwell on the situation. Anyone can ponder long enough to come up with a smart plan, but those that do it quickly have business acumen.


Everyone working with accounting functions need to be adaptable. Because the rules and regulations within accounting are subject to change, the knowledge you have in the field can quickly become outdated. This is why you need to be able to adapt to doing things a new way. There is always a newer, faster, or better way of doing something, so you’ll want to be flexible so that you stay relevant.


It might be taken for granted, but communication is also a crucial part of accounting. You’ll need to be able to communicate with other members of your business to understand why or how something. You’ll also need to be able to explain how or why things are done to other people. Understanding a concept is one thing, but it doesn’t do any good if you’re unable to relay that to the people it concerns. Communication is also vital to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal.

Integrous Ethics

Last but not least, anyone dealing with any accounting functions needs to have high integrity and great ethics. The accounting field by nature is ripe for fraud, especially considering that seemingly insignificant changes can have major benefits. If a business had a rough year and knows that reporting a loss might lose them investors, they might feel inclined to inflate their revenue numbers.

While this might seem like a quick fix, you’re definitely going to end up getting caught later on. If you’re working within accounting, you need to resist any temptation to fudge with numbers. Your job is only to record and assess figures, not manipulate them.

Find an Experienced Accountant!

To truly thrive within the accounting field, you need years of training and experience on the job. Working in a small business, you definitely don’t have the luxury of being picky. Most likely, you won’t have anyone in your business with formalized accounting training. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still give your best effort to work in good faith.

If you want to succeed in the accounting field, there are several important skills you’ll want to work on. Paying close attention to detail, managing your time, critical analysis, business acumen, flexibility, communication, and impeccable ethics all make for coremarks of a good accountant. Even if it isn’t your main job, you can still improve on these skills to handle accounting functions better.

While you may succeed at handling your small business’s accounting functions on your own, there’s no replacement for a professional accountant. If you want an accountant that appreciates all the skills talked about in this article, get in touch with the experts at Evergreen CPAs! With a dedication to high quality service and a personal client relationship, you’ll feel right at home with Evergreen CPAs!