Accounting is the process of recording financial transactions pertaining to a business. The accounting process includes summarizing, analyzing and reporting these transactions to oversight agencies, regulators and tax collection entities. The financial statements used in accounting are a concise summary of financial transactions over an accounting period, summarizing a company’s operations, financial position and cash flows.
Accounting is one of the key functions for almost any business. It may be handled by a bookkeeper or an accountant at a small firm, or by sizable finance departments with dozens of employees at larger companies. The reports generated by various streams of accounting, such as cost accounting and managerial accounting, are invaluable in helping management make informed business decisions.
Two important types of accounting for businesses are managerial accounting and cost accounting. Managerial accounting helps management teams make business decisions, while cost accounting helps business owners decide how much a product should cost.
In most cases, accountants use generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) when preparing financial statements in the U.S. GAAP is a set of standards and principles designed to improve the comparability and consistency of financial reporting across industries. Its standards are based on double-entry accounting, a method in which every accounting transaction is entered as both a debit and credit in two separate general ledger accounts that will roll up into the balance sheet and income statement.