How getting your Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree can prepare you for entrepreneurship

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Earning your Bachelor of Science in Accounting is an excellent first step toward a worthwhile career. Accountants are currently in high demand, with the job outlook growing 11 percent between 2014 and 2024; meanwhile, the average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Virtually every individual and organization would benefit from an accountant’s knowledge at some point or another, whether it’s to file annual taxes or to balance a budget. Given this, it’s no wonder accountants are in such high demand.

Despite the need for financially knowledgeable professionals, there are many career paths outside of the accounting field that accountants can excel at. For example, accountants can make great entrepreneurs.

In theory, the idea of an accountant entrepreneur might seem like an oxymoron. Entrepreneurs take risks; accountants prefer to analyze facts before making carefully planned decisions. In practice, though, businesses can thrive under the direction of an accountant.

Accountant crunching numbers

Accountants know cash flow

Businesses open and close all the time. Half of businesses fail within five years, and only 30 percent make it to their ten-year anniversary, according to Insurance Quotes. There are countless reasons why a business might close, though the overwhelming majority cite the same one: 82 percent of businesses fail due to cash flow problems, and 29 percent run out of cash.

Money is the lifeblood that keeps any business alive. Cash is needed to buy supplies, pay labor and rent space or equipment. However, far too many entrepreneurs struggle to keep an eye on cash flow. With so many transactions happening, it can be hard to understand what’s really available to the business owner. And, as any accountant knows, it doesn’t take much for cash flow issues to grow into full-fledged problems.

Of course, cash flow has never been much of a problem for accountants. Students in the online accounting program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham learn about cash flow during their foundation course Essentials of Financial Literacy, and continue to examine its intricacies throughout Financial Accounting and Financial Management courses.

Accountants can analyze risk

It can be tough for a business to recover from a bad investment. But that’s what entrepreneurship is all about, right? Taking chances and either reaping the rewards or learning from your mistakes.

While this may be true, there’s an important distinction between taking any risk that comes up and carefully choosing which are most worthwhile. An accountant knows how to calculate risk to make smart decisions – lessons learned in courses like Fundamentals of Financial Management at UAB, which discusses risk/return analysis.

Accountants have an eye for detail

To make sure paperwork is filed properly and on time, and that large budgets are balanced perfectly, accountants must pay careful attention to even the most minuscule details. One thing out of place – an extra zero or a misplaced period – can have very real consequences for their clients. As such, accountants are known for their sharp eye.

Though starting a business is very different than analyzing a financial statement, the same talent for spotting the smallest details is beneficial to both. Sarah Kauss, former CPA and founder of S’Well, a brand of high-end fashion-forward water bottles, told Inc., a magazine that highlights small businesses and startups, that the first thing she did upon receiving a distribution deal from Target was to assign someone on her team to comb through the store’s new partner guide.

Throughout their education, accounting majors are repeatedly tasked with analyzing statements and budgets, fine-tuning their close attention to detail. An entrepreneur who lacks this talent may overlook a critical detail.

Accountants can get an inside look

Practicing accountants – whether employed by a company as its primary accountant or a firm with many clients – gain an exclusive look into the heart of various businesses when tasked with reviewing and balancing their budgets. This experience offers invaluable knowledge that few people have the opportunity of gaining.

Amar Abrol, former chartered accountant and current CEO of AirAsia, an airline based in India, explained to the news outlet, Entrepreneur, that most businesses are very similar in nature once you look past things like products, target audience and customer experience.

“Understanding the dynamics of any business requires the ability to look into the financial statements, do a little bit of balance sheets and doing things in the right direction,” Abrol told Entrepreneur. “Working for a fortune 500 company, I got to see the big business from every department.”

Accountants have a career backup plan

Not all business ventures work out – again, 50 percent go under within 5 years – but an accountant has little to worry about. If his or her business turns out to be a dud, an accountant can always get back into the game. With such high demand for accountants, there should be little problem finding a position.

Additionally, accountants back on the job hunt can offer their services on a freelance basis. Not only is this a good backup plan should the business not succeed, but it’s also a great way to bring in extra cash during your startup phase.

Accountants are trained in business planning

As the saying goes, accounting is the language of business. Considering this, it’s no surprise there are so many courses centered on business strategy, planning and ethics. In fact, there are seven courses throughout the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Online Bachelor of Science in Accounting program that dive deep into core business principles:

Business Foundations reviews the many business careers available today.
Applied Information Technology discusses how to analyze business problems and the role of automation in the modern office.
Legal Environment of Business gives students an understanding of contracts, bankruptcy, decision-making and business organizations.
Quantitative Analysis I explores statistics, distributions and estimations as they apply to the business world.
International Accounting teaches students important lessons about doing business with other countries.
Basic Marketing offers students a thorough understanding of how to plan, promote, price and distribute products.
Business Communications discusses how to best structure inter-business communications, with particular focus on organization, structure and grammar.

University of Alabama at Birmingham can prepare future accountants for the world of business

Earning your Bachelor of Science in Accounting can introduce you to a world of potential career opportunities. You can enter the field of accounting right away, study to take your CMA, further your accounting expertise with a master’s degree or try something new altogether like entrepreneurship.

No matter which path you choose, you can begin with a high-quality education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Reach out to an enrollment advisor to learn more about our online accounting degree program.

Recommended Readings:
Tips to work at home as an accounting professional
Interested in Accounting? Consider Pursuing These Four Management Roles

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics
2. Insurance Quotes
3. Inc
4. Entrepreneur