November 1, 2014

Small Business Operator – A Manual for Tax Deductions and Bookkeeping

Small Business OperatorSmall Business Operator is a book about operating a small business that has stood the test of time.  It is in its 32nd printing.

The book is written by Bernard B. Kamoroff, a certified public accountant (CPA).

My own business is past the startup stage.  So I wasn’t sure what to expect when I received my review copy.  But soon I found myself glad to be reviewing it.

Where this book really shines is in the lengthy sections about keeping your books and doing your taxes.  About two-thirds of the book focus on the financial and tax implications of running a small business.  It is very helpful in this regard.

It’s the kind of book you will want to put on your bookshelf near your desk to refer back to often.  And if you are serious about growing your business you WILL refer back.  It will help you get better at:

(1)  understanding your numbers, and how to use them to run your business better;

(2)  taking all the tax deductions to which you are entitled;

(3)  complying with tax requirements, including how to keep better records to avoid being audited, or successfully surviving an audit.

It is not a step-by-step guide about what to put on line 54 of your tax return.  But it answers many questions about taxes encountered as you operate your business.  It will help you make smarter decisions BEFORE tax time comes.

The book is written in easy-to-understand language.  Example: one section is titled:  “The IRS Does Not Like Business Trips.”  As you might imagine, this section cautions you about disguising a vacation as a business trip.  But it also offers helpful tidbits for keeping records on business trips so that you can convince an IRS auditor that it really was a business trip.

The book also has a section on running a home business, including tax and licensing issues.

What I liked Most about Small Business Operator

I really liked the way the book is organized to make it easy to look up whether a business expense is tax deductible.  It is logically arranged and gives you straight-up answers.  The index is good, too.

Another helpful thing: the book has a comprehensive 4-page section with a tax calendar for filing dates.  It includes Federal and state filing dates.

And you can email the publisher for an update sheet, to see which tax implications have been updated in between printings.

What the Book Could Have Added

The book is helpful so I wanted more, more, more.  For instance, the book offers basic information on areas such as pricing your products, protecting your business with trademarks, writing contracts, collecting overdue accounts, marketing and more.  There’s even some information about the Internet’s impact on doing business, such as taking credit card payments and domain names.

None of these sections, however, is as detailed as the bookkeeping and tax sections.  The book takes a broad brush to these subjects, but not a deep dive.  Of course, if it did, the book would be gigantic, because you could write a book on each topic.  :)

Who Will Get the Most Value out of This Book

This book is a good guide for newbies just starting a business.

It is also helpful if your small business is still relatively young and small, but growing.  When taxes start taking a bigger bite out of profits, or your bookkeeping starts getting more complex, you will be referring to it often.

It’s designed for the do-it-yourselfer — those who do not have an internal bookkeeper or accountant.  However, even if you use an outside accountant, you will find value in this book for your own knowledge.

For instance, I sometimes have questions about how to classify a business expense or credit in my accounting software.  Or I wonder if some expense can be marked tax deductible.  I avoid calling my accountant if I can find the answer on my own, to keep his bill down.  In the past I’ve gone to websites, such as the IRS website, which has a good small business tax section.  But for these kinds of questions most  websites are not structured to get you an answer quickly, and 30 minutes later you’re still hunting.   This book would be a real time saver and money saver.  You find the answer on your own.  You avoid calling your accountant for simple questions, and avoid getting sidetracked in a huge website.

The book focuses heavily on taxes, bookkeeping and licenses.  As such it will be of value to U.S. businesses only.

Get Small Business Operator

Small Business Operator is a helpful reference guide.  It is well worth the $18.95 price tag (currently discounted to $12.89 on Amazon – a no-brainer at that price).  If you find yourself with unanswered questions about how to get more profitable, manage your books, and save on taxes, you will want this book.

12 Comments ▼
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Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses, and also serves as CEO of TweakYourBiz.com.

12 Reactions

  1. Anita,

    Thanks for the book tip! Impressive that the book has been printed 23 times!

  2. This is a good resource to share with new business owners. We need plenty of step by step guides to help small business be successful.

  3. Is buying a book better than hiring somebody for the work related to taxes? What do you suggest?
    We are a middle sized company and have a team of accountats doing our work. DO you think we need to kow exacylt what they are doing?

  4. Hi Nancy,

    I would NOT use a book instead of accountants — especially for a midsize business.

    But if you feel the need to educate yourself personally, this book could be helpful for that purpose.

    One caution: this book is primarily for SMALL businesses. I’d say from sole proprietor up to microbusinesses (around 5 employees) or maybe a little larger.

    For a midsize business, you may already be dealing with tax and accounting issues that are more complex than this book covers.

    But at the modest price tag it’s not a big financial risk, so don’t overthink your decision. :)

    Anita

  5. Most small business owners just starting out can use a little help with the financials, so thanks for the recommendation Anita.

  6. Great book recommendation, I will have to get a copy. I think this could really help my confusion as to what deductions I need to keep track of. And for a little under $13, it sounds like a good investment.

  7. I’m confused. First you said you used the book to answer your own questions instead of calling your accountant. Then you told Nancy not to use the book instead of accountants. Which is it?

    [Signed]
    Headspinning

  8. :) Ha ha ha, Contrarian (Jim)!

    I guess I should clarify. What I meant is that you shouldn’t COMPLETELY give up your accountant in favor of a book. An accountant provides valuable advice and services that a book can’t replace. That’s especially true once a business gets to a certain size (the question came from a midsized business).

    You can cut down on raising simple informational questions to your accountant by using a book. But you can’t replace an accountant altogether, with a book.

    – Anita

  9. I caught the 21st edition of this book back when I started in business and, even though I’m in the UK, I thought that there was plenty of good info in it.

    I agree with the thoughts on saving money on calling your accountant by reading a book. The main problem with undertaking your own taxes (IMHO) is confidence and an expert offers far more than just the basics … they bring assurances that you are doing things right.

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