our 18 favorite accounting books and resources for startup accountants and finance professionals

18 Best Accounting Books and Resources For Startups

Accounting for startups can be a tricky proposition when you don’t know all the ins and outs. You need to learn about the nuances of recording transactions, how to properly file a small business tax return, and how to choose the right business credit card or accounting software - among many other accounting subjects.

We all have to start somewhere. We polled our team to put together 18 of their favorite books and resources that make startup accounting easy to understand, many of which we still refer to on a regular basis. 

Startup Accounting For Beginners

1. Accounting All-in-One for Dummies

by Joe Kraynak

Accounting all-in one for dummies

A one-stop accounting reference Packed with vital information culled from the extensive For Dummies accounting, bookkeeping, and auditing libraries, Accounting All-in-One For Dummies is a powerful, one-stop reference.

This is a comprehensive resource on a variety of accounting concepts including: 

  • Setting up your accounting system
  • Recording accounting transactions
  • Adjusting and closing entries
  • Preparing income statements and balance sheets
  • Planning and budgeting for your business
  • Handling cash and making purchase decisions
  • Ways to report on your financial statements 
  • How to make savvy business decisions 
  • Auditing and detecting financial fraud 

Accounting All-in-One For Dummies is a valuable desk reference for accounting professionals in the workforce.

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2. The Accounting Game: Basic Accounting Fresh from the Lemonade Stand

by Darrell Mullis, Judith Orloff

The Accounting Game: Basic Accounting Fresh from the Lemonade Stand

Don’t let the simple metaphor of this book fool you - it will teach you the basics of accounting without putting you to sleep! 

The Accounting Game uses the world of a kid's lemonade stand to teach the basics of financial language and records. You'll run your own lemonade stand and make it grow by creating signs to advertise it, borrowing money from Mom, buying lemons and sugar, and selling to the whole neighborhood. It will help you learn to:

  • Know the difference between accrual vs. cash accounting methods
  • Create and understand an income statement and balance sheet
  • Track inventory using LIFO and FIFO
  • Create cash statements and understand cash flow and liquidity
  • Apply your new knowledge to real-life situations

The Accounting Game takes the typically mundane subjects of accounting and business finance and makes them something you can easily learn, understand, remember and use!

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3. Accounting for the Numberphobic

by Dawn Fotopulos

Accounting for the Numberphobic

As a small-business owner, financial statements are your most important tools, and if you don't know how to read them and understand their implications, you cannot possibly steer your business successfully. 

Accounting for the Numberphobic demystifies your company's financial dashboard: the Net Income Statement, Cash Flow Statement, and Balance Sheet. The book explains in plain English how each measurement reflects the overall health of your business--and impacts your decisions. You will discover many topics including:

  • How your Net Income Statement is the key to growing your profits
  • How to identify the break-even point that means your business is self-sustaining
  • Real-world advice on measuring and increasing cash flow
  • What the Balance Sheet reveals about your company's worth

This indispensable guide will put your business on the path to profitability in no time.

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4. Financial Statements: A Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding and Creating Financial Reports

by Thomas R. Ittelson

Financial Statements: A Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding and Creating Financial Reports

Explains how to read the three basic types of financial statements and uses this foundation to explain the flow of cash and product: The balance sheet, the income statement, and cash flow.

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5. Accounting Made Simple: Accounting Explained in 100 Pages or Less

by Mile Piper, CPA

Accounting Made Simple: Accounting Explained in 100 Pages or Less

Find all of the following explained in Plain-English with no technical jargon: 

  • The Accounting Equation and why it's so significant 
  • How to read and prepare financial statements 
  • How to calculate and interpret several different financial ratios 
  • The concepts and assumptions behind Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) 
  • Preparing journal entries with debits and credits 
  • Cash method vs. accrual method Inventory 
  • Cost of Goods Sold How to calculate depreciation and amortization expenses

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Intermediate and Specialty Accounting

6. Tax Savvy for Small Business

by Frederick W. Daily

Tax Savvy for Small Business

This bestseller points the way, detailing year-round tax-saving strategies to help business owners: 

  • Claim all legitimate deductions
  • Maximize fringe benefits
  • Keep accurate records
  • Document expenses
  • Survive an audit

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7. Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine

by Mike Michalowicz

Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine

Conventional accounting uses the logical formula: Sales - Expenses = Profit. The problem is, businesses are run by humans, and humans aren't always logical. 

Entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz has developed a behavioral approach to accounting to flip the formula: Sales - Profit = Expenses. Just as the most effective weight loss strategy is to limit portions by using smaller plates, Michalowicz demonstrates considering profit first and apportioning only what remains for expenses. Readers can learn:

  • 4 simple principles that simplify accounting and make it easier to manage a profitable business by looking at bank account balances
  • A small, profitable business can be worth much more than a large business surviving on its top line
  • Businesses that attain early and sustained profitability have a better shot at achieving long-term growth

We love this book as it contains dozens of case studies, and practical, step-by-step advice.

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8. Barron's Accounting Handbook 

by Joel G. Siegel, Jae K. Shim

Barron's Accounting Handbook

The new fifth edition of Barron's Accounting Handbook presents a comprehensive overview of accounting principles and practices plus an A-to-Z dictionary of accounting terms. Here in one volume is an authoritative reference volume for accountants, bookkeepers, accounts managers, controllers, business managers, and business students.

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9. Accounting: For Small Businesses QuickStart Guide – Understanding Accounting for Your Sole Proprietorship, Startup, & LLC

by ClydeBank Business

Accounting: For Small Businesses QuickStart Guide – Understanding Accounting for Your Sole Proprietorship, Startup, & LLC

Learn how to control your cash flow, audit-proof your business, and increase your profits. This guide provides a fast, efficient path to understanding in a self-paced learning environment. Each foundational accounting principle is supplemented by extensive examples.

Topics include:

  • Double-entry accounting
  • The relationship between assets, liabilities, and equity
  • Accrual accounting vs. cash accounting
  • The creation and application of financial statements
  • The Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
  • Detecting and preventing fraud
  • Optimizing record keeping

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by Mark J. Kohler

The Tax and Legal Playbook: Game-Changing Solutions for Your Small-Business Questions

Attorney and CPA Mark Kohler targets the leading tax and business issues among small business owners, across all stages of business, and delivers a practical guide to the fundamental tax and legal conflicts faced by new and established entrepreneurs. 

Kohler delivers question-specific solutions that use entertaining, real-world examples to educate flustered business owners, who are then presented with varied, clearly defined solutions and next steps for moving forward. Each of these sections offers tools such as assessment quizzes, valuable details to know, possible pitfalls and deceptions, what strategies should always be practiced, and what new strategies or tactics are worth considering.

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11. Financial Shenanigans: How to Detect Accounting Gimmicks and Fraud in Financial Reports

by Howard Schilit

Financial Shenanigans: How to Detect Accounting Gimmicks and Fraud in Financial Reports

Presents tools that one who is potentially affected by misleading business valuations can use to research and read financial reports, and to identify early warning signs of a company's problems. This work contains chapters, data, and research that reveal contemporary shenanigans that have been known to fool even veteran researchers.

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12. Take on the Street: How to Fight for Your Financial Future

by Arthur Levitt, Paula Dwyer

Take on the Street: How to Fight for Your Financial Future

Arthur Levitt, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission for eight years under President Clinton, provides advice for small investors to protect themselves from the deliberately confusing ways of Wall Street.

His straight talk about the ways of stockbrokers, corporate financial statements, mutual fund managers, and other aspects of the business will help to arm everyone with the tools they need to protect and enhance their financial future.

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Great Online Accounting Resources

13. U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

If you’re a small business in the US, you’ll need to keep an eye on the latest from SBA. It has plenty of information on how to plan, launch, manage and grow your business. Along with providing small business loans, they also provide free business counseling you can apply for.

14. Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)

All U.S. accountants need to know Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), and FASB created these important guidelines. GAAP helps keep all accounting and reporting in line in businesses across the US, and you can learn lots of other important tips here as well.

15. The Balance SMB

The Balance Small Business is a website with over 7000 articles of actionable advice to make launching and managing your own business easy. It is home to experts who provide clear, practical advice on entrepreneurship and management. 

16. Startups.com

Startups.com provides education and tools to walk aspiring Founders through the entire startup process: including education, business planning, mentorship, customer acquisition, funding, and staffing.

17. Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

When there is something of importance happening in the U.S. or across the globe that affects small business owners and entrepreneurs, SBE Council is there. They focus on advancing policies and initiatives that encourage entrepreneurship and small business growth.  

18. Startup Professionals Musings

CEO & Founder of Startup Professionals, Inc. Martin Zwilling is frequently published on Inc, Forbes, and Entrepreneur, and also has his own blog! 

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