The Language of Business

Education is a subject that’s been on my mind a lot of late. As we head into another election cycle, it’s clearer than ever that the root cause of much of the nation’s ills can be traced back to educational issues. Though the list of egregious mistakes America has made in this regard over the last century is a long one, hope is definitely on the horizon.

I’ve previously highlighted one future direction I think education will inevitably go in – online learning. In today’s piece, I want to get a little more specific by looking at a particular aspect of business that’s consistently woefully misunderstood – the subject of accounting.

Accounting is the language of business and those who don’t understand it thoroughly are bound to get left in the cold sooner or later. When I was coming up, it was taken as a given that people above a certain pay scale or level of experience were sure to be well-versed in its intricacies. These days I’m not so certain that’s the case.

Over the last ten years, I’ve found myself in an increasingly large number of business situations where it soon became clear that the basic financial literacy of some of the other attendees left a lot to be desired. This isn’t to doubt the drive, creativity or general acumen of the people I’m talking about here, it was simply obvious to someone who has a firm grip on the basics that there was a large hole in their basic knowledge.

Now I’m not suggesting that everyone has to suddenly become an expert in arcane aspects of the tax code, or be able to instantly parse a complex set of multi-national accounts. Accountancy and bookkeeping exist as lucrative trades for a very good reason – they’re both specialized skills it’s usually more than worth paying somebody to take care of on your behalf.

It should, however, be taken for granted that most business people should be more than comfortable with basic accounting concepts. This isn’t, in my experience, a particularly big ask either. The fundamentals involved can be learned in a matter of weeks and will serve you well for a lifetime.

I’ve recently been trying to hammer home the importance of this core knowledge set to both people within the organization I lead and beyond. As part of that push (and in keeping with my earlier ruminations on which way education is heading), I’ve been on the lookout for online resources I can point people in the direction of. Two immediately leaped out from the pack:

  1. AccountingCoach: The core of this comprehensive course is free and a measly one-time payment of $49 unlocks the full curriculum.
  2. LearnAccountingForFree: If this completely free course is good enough for Clayton Christensen and the students of Harvard Business School, it’s good enough for you.

So, I urge you, if you’ve been putting off getting to grips with the core concepts the business world runs on, delay no longer! A comprehensive knowledge of the basics that will serve you over your career is mere weeks of applied learning away. Hit the books!



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