On Accounting As A Valuable Skill And Entrepreneurship

By Jamie McSloy / September 22, 2017
entrepreneurship accounting valuable skill featured image

Someone on Reddit posted this thread yesterday:

accounting valuable skill entrepreneurship

In this article, I’ll discuss some things that come to mind regarding this topic.

Here’s a summary:

  • Among other things, it’s evidence that too many people jump into entrepreneur bubbles.

Is Accounting Worth It?

I’ll address this in two sections. Firstly, is accounting a useful skill in terms of the job market and secondly, is accounting a useful skill in terms of the ongoing automation apocalypse.

Then I’ll move on to “How can an accountant or accounting student also use the skill of accounting to quench their thirst for entrepreneurship?”

Let’s get started.

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Entrepreneur Bubbles

So, our guy in the original Reddit thread asked whether accounting was worth it, having gotten the “entrepreneurial bug.”

Let’s give a short and sharp answer:

Yes, accounting is obviously a valuable skill to learn. It’s a valuable career to enter if you’re of a career mind and it’s also incredibly useful as an entrepreneurial skill.

More on that another time.

Here’s the thing: people get stuck in weird entrepreneurial bubbles. Entrepreneurship is something shiny and with a ton of open-ended potential. With entrepreneurship, you can become a millionaire or retire in comfort early or set your own hours or a million other different things.

This quickly leads to people who are exposed to it thinking, “Entrepreneurship or nothing!”

This is a bubble and it’s not the real world.

In the real world, most entrepreneurs don’t live the dream life. Also, there are plenty of jobs that give you freedom, high pay and flexibility. Some people are more suited to careers and traditional employment. Some are suited to low level employment and taking value from other stuff. Other people are drawn to high-powered, highly skilled work yet don’t want to be the boss.

Not everyone is going to be an entrepreneur and to think that the 90% of people that aren’t are “wage slaves” or some other derogatory term is retarded thinking. If you’re more than twelve years old and think in such terms, you’ve got work to do.

Why Is Accounting Worth It?

Let’s look at accounting specifically here, and why it’s worth it as a career choice or tool:

  • High barrier to entry

It’s not politically correct to say so, but not everyone can do everything and anything. Accounting is one of those things; you need organisational ability, mathematical ability and problem-solving ability. Another big skill is the “debugging” ability – the ability to notice where a data set has broken down and fix it.

These things are not common among people and they make accounting a skill set that’s not obtainable by everyone. This means it has inherent value anyway.

Credentials fall under this as well. The actual skill of accounting is – providing you’ve got the brain for it – straightforward enough to pick up, but you need the right qualifications in order to be a professional accountant. Again, this makes the barrier to entry pretty high.

  • Value

If you’re a professional accountant, you can build up a base of clients and save them a ton of money. If you can make people richer, then you’ll never starve for work. Even though there are a million accountants and the field could be considered saturated, the base rule remains: if you can add value, there’s value in what you do.

  • Application

Accounting is a set of complex systems which are hard to navigate. However, it’s much more as well. You can apply accounting principles to all sorts of things, from business to health to personal finances and more.

The skills and systems you learn are valuable and that value is compounded when you start applying them elsewhere.

Accounting And The Automation Apocalypse

Is accounting going to be useful even though the robots are taking over?

Firstly, this isn’t the place to debate the automation apocalypse. It’s happening, deal with it.

Secondly, yes, accounting is going to be useful for the current career cycle. If you’re twenty now, then providing you’re willing to sail in stormy seas, then you can make a living as an accountant for your whole career.

In fact, your job will get easier because of automation.

The current state of affairs is this: we’re moving from a centralised economy to a decentralised one, with cryptocurrency, gig economy over corporation and the internet meaning that even traditional business is decentralised.

Add to a bigger emphasis on the global economy and the fact a guy from Nowhere, England can sell stuff to America that’s built in China… and there are millions of openings, niches and areas where accounting services are needed.

These complexities are coming at the same time as automation and computing make everything easier. Put two and two together and these might be the only interesting times in history to be an accountant.

Final Thoughts

I would finish this up with a “How to Apply Accountancy to Entrepreneurship” section, but the above few lines summarise it quite nicely:

  • If you’ve got the aptitude to be an accountant or learn accounting, do it
  • Apply the skills and systems to the millions of different possible implementations
  • Use automation to make your job easier
  • ???
  • Profit

Now, assuming you don’t want to be an accountant, all the above still applies. You can – and it’d be worth it – learn accountancy in your spare time and apply it to all kinds of things. You just can’t practice accountancy professionally.

I can’t really go into further specifics because it’s so country-of-origin dependent, but learning accountancy involves the stereotypical steps I’m always recommending: find a used book store near a University, get the accountancy reading list and work through it while applying it to real world scenarios.

Accountancy books are usually good because they are heavy on the exercises.