Recordkeeping in Small Business

INTRODUCTION
An appropriate record-keeping system can determine the survival
or failure of a new business. For those already in business, good
record-keeping systems can increase the chances of staying in
business and the opportunity to earn larger profits. Complete
records will keep you in touch with your business’s operations
and obligations and help you see problems before they occur.
This publication explains the characteristics of and procedure
for establishing a good record-keeping system.

THE NEED FOR GOOD RECORDS
Accounting records furnish substantial information about your
volume of business, such as how present and prior volumes
compare, the amount of cash versus credit sales and the level and
status of accounts receivable. In addition, good accounting
records help to accomplish the following tasks.

Monitor Inventory
While a large inventory allows goods to be delivered when they
are ordered, too large an inventory represents an excess
investment. If your inventory does not turn over quickly, your
business may lose profits due to obsolescence, deterioration or
excess investment.

Any items removed from inventory for personal use should be set
aside in a special account for two reasons: first, they need to
be recognized separately for tax purposes and, second, including
these items in business gross profit calculations can be
misleading.

Control Expenses
Accounting records detail the amounts owed to suppliers and other
creditors so that you can plan the availability of cash to meet
your obligations. Such records also provide information regarding
expenditures and allow you to establish controls over them. At
all times, you must be aware of your individual expense
requirements and how they relate to the overall picture.

Fulfill Payroll Requirements
Payroll is one of the largest expenses in a small business.
Adequate payroll records should meet the requirements of the

– Internal Revenue Service.
– State department of revenue.
– Local department of revenue.
– Workers’ compensation laws.
– Wage and hour laws.
– Social security requirements.
– Unemployment insurance requirements.

For each of these categories you are required to provide annual
reports and summaries. In addition, you must provide employees
with the W-2 forms needed to file federal and other income tax
returns. In order to provide this detailed information, it is
essential for you to maintain good accounting records.

Determine Profit Margin
Good accounting records will indicate a business’s level of
profit, and provide specific information on the profitability of
certain departments or lines of goods within your business. Such
analysis is important to avoid continuing product lines far
beyond their profitability. In most cases, you can avoid losses
if you maintain current records and analyze the information from
your records on an ongoing basis.

Improve Cash Flow
Good accounting records provide detailed reports of cash
availability, both on hand and in the bank, and of cash shortages
or the diversion of cash. Since cash is your most liquid asset,
you must carefully account for it.

Use Supplier Discounts
A cash budget will provide the business owner with a projection
of the availability of cash that may be used to pay invoices as
they become due. Discounts from suppliers for prompt payment can
amount to substantial savings. A 2 percent discount is common if
you pay the bill in full within 10 days; if not, full payment is
due within 30 days. In business, this is commonly referred to as
2/10, n/30 where n = the net sum due. It means you pay 2 percent
less if you pay within 10 days or you pay full price within
30 days. Take into account that this discount is cumulative. If
you make timely payments for each month of the year you will gain
a 24 percent benefit (2 percent 12 months).

Measure Performance
Finally, good business records help you measure your business’s
performance by comparing your actual results with the figures in
your budget and those of other similar businesses.

REQUIREMENTS OF A GOOD SYSTEM
The following criteria are essential to a good record-keeping
system:

– Simplicity
– Accuracy
– Timeliness
– Consistency
– Understandability
– Reliability and completeness

There are several copyrighted accounting systems that can be
purchased and adapted to the individual business, or you may find
it is better to use a system specifically designed for your
business and one that meets the above-mentioned criteria.

Commercial Record-Keeping Systems
Record-keeping systems are currently available from various
sources in the marketplace: stationery stores, publishers and
business advisory services. These systems either are specifically
designed for a certain type of business or are general enough to
be used by many different types of businesses. Systems are
available for cash basis recording, accrual basis recording and
for both single and double entry.

Computerized Record Keeping
Consider using a computer for your business operations. Compare
different software systems and make sure that the system you
choose provides accurate and timely information and offers more
than adequate presentation of accounting information for small
businesses.

Low-cost computer programs are available that can handle many of
the book entries that are necessary in a system that is
maintained by hand. Appropriate hardware and a good general
ledger software program can offer you substantial assistance in
recording business transactions and summarizing the information
into appropriate accounting presentations.

Currently available software allows you to enter transactions
individually; these transactions are posted directly to the
general ledger. A printout at the end of a given period shows the
individual account activity, and also includes a balance and
total of the accounts and provides a trial balance presentation.
If the software is designed properly, it will provide
appropriately prepared financial statements (balance sheet,
income statements).

METHODS OF ACCOUNTING
There are two basic methods of accounting: cash basis and accrual
basis. The method you choose will depend on your type of
business. Cash basis is the simpler method. It is mainly used by
service businesses that do not maintain inventory or startup
businesses that do not offer credit. The accrual method is used
by businesses that provide for credit sales or maintain an
inventory.

Cash Basis Method
In cash basis accounting, you record sales when cash is received
and expenses when they are actually paid. Using the cash basis
method is like maintaining a checkbook. Under this method,
accounts receivable are not recorded as sales until they are
collected. Accounts payable are not recorded as expenses until
the account is paid. Bad debt, accruals and deferrals are not
appropriately recorded under cash basis because they are examples
of outstanding credit (business notes). The cash basis method is
not appropriate for businesses that extend credit.

Accrual Basis Method
In accrual basis accounting, you report income or expenses as
they are earned or incurred rather than when they are collected
or paid. Record credit sales as accounts receivable that have not
yet been collected.

The accrual basis also provides a method for recording
expenditures paid in a single installment but covering more than
one period. For example, interest may be paid semiannually or
annually, but it is recorded on a monthly basis.

The accrual method satisfies the matching concept, i.e., matching
income with related expenditures. Consequently, it can provide a
clear and accurate view of business operations for a given
period.

THE ACCOUNTING CYCLE
The accounting cycle can be described as follows:

1. A business transaction occurs, giving rise to an original
document that is recorded in a book of original entries called a
journal.
2. The totals from the journal are summarized and reported in a
book of accounts, known as a general ledger.
3. The general ledger contains the individual accounts maintained
by the business.
4. The individual accounts are listed in the form of debits and
credits, known as the trial balance of the general ledger.
5. From this trial balance, after making certain adjustments, you
prepare the business’s financial statements.

Journals
You derive the information for each journal entry from original
source documents, such as, sales slips, cash register tapes,
check stubs, purchase invoices and other items that record your
business transactions. You may need to create subsidiary journals
for specific, frequently occurring types of transactions, such as
sales and expenses.

General Ledgers
The summary and totals from all journals are entered into the
general ledger. A general ledger is a summary book that records
transactions and balances of individual accounts, and is
organized into five classes of individual accounts, as follows:

1. Assets – A record of all items that the business owns.
2. Liabilities – A record of all debts the business owes.
3. Capital – A record of all ownership or equity.
4. Sales – A record of all income earned for a specific period.
5. Expenses – A record of all expenditures incurred during a given
period.

When the trial balance is prepared, these classifications are
easily recognized.

Trial Balance
At the end of the fiscal year or accounting period, the
individual accounts in the general ledger are totaled and closed.
The balances of the individual accounts are summarized in the
financial statements.

Financial Statements
The main types of financial statements are the balance sheet and
the income statement, also known as the profit and loss
statement. The balance sheet is a report of a business’s
financial condition (assets, liabilities and capital) at a
specific moment in time (see Example 1) and the income statement
is a summary of profit and loss for a specific period of time,
generally a month, quarter or year (see Example 2).

Other statements may be prepared. For example, a cash flow
statement identifies the sources and applications of cash.
Statements may also be prepared to indicate manufacturing
expenses or other special areas that are of interest to you.

Percentages
Percentages are used in financial statements to show the part of
each sales dollar used by the various expenses. Percentages are
especially helpful for comparing current year financial
statements with those of prior years to determine business
trends. Percentages are also helpful for comparing your figures
with those of other firms in the same line of business (see
Example 3).

————————————————————————-
Example 3 Appliance Repair Company
Income Statement Showing Expenses as Percentage of Sales

Total Parts Service
————— ————————
Amount Percent Amount Percent Amount Percent
————————————————————————-
Gross Sales $70,000 100.00 $25,000 100.00 $45,000 100.00
————————————————————————-

Cost of sales
Opening inventory 13,000 13,000
Purchases 25,000 25,000
Total 38,000 38,000
Ending inventory 14,000 14,000
Total cost of sales 24,000 34.29 24,000 96.00
Gross Profit 46,000 65.71 1,000 4.00
Operating expenses
Payroll 26,000 37.14 26,000 57.78
Rent 3,000 4.29 1,500 6.00 1,500 3.33
Payroll taxes 1,500 2.14 1,500 3.33
Interest 600 .86 300 1.20 300 .67
Depreciation 1,400 2.00 1,400 3.11
Truck expense 5,500 7.86 5,500 12.22
Telephone 2,400 3.43 1,200 4.80 1,200 2.67
Insurance 1,000 1.43 400 1.60 600 1.33
Miscellaneous 1,000 1.43 500 2.00 500 1.11
————————————————————————-
Total Expenses 42,400 60.58 3,900 15.60 38,500 85.55
————————————————————————-
Net Profit (Loss)
(Exclusive of owner’s salary)
3,600 5.14 (2,900) (11.60) 6,500 14.44
————————————————————————-

————————————————————————-
Example 1
ABC SALES CO.
BALANCE SHEET
December 31,199-

Assets

Current assets
Cash……………………………. $23,590
Notes receivable…………………… 10,000
Accounts receivable………………… 20,880
Merchandise receivable……………… 62,150
Store supplies…………………….. 960
Office supplies……………………. 480
Prepaid insurance………………….. 1,650
——
Total Current Assets……………. $119,710

Plant assets
Land……………………………. $20,000
Building………………………… $140,000
Less accumulated depreciation……. 33,900 106,100
Office equipment…………………. 15,570
Less accumulated depreciation……. 8,720 6,850
Store equipment………………….. 27,100
Less accumulated depreciation……. 15,700 11,400
Total plant assets……………… 144,350
——-
Total assets………………………. $264,060

Liabilities

Current liabilities
Accounts Payable…………………. $22,420
Mortgage note payable (current portion) 5,000
Salaries payable…………………. 1,152
——-
Total current liabilities $28,572

Long-term liabilities
Mortgage note payable 20,000
——-
Total liabilities $48,572

Stockholders’ Equity

Capital Stock……………………… $100,000
Retained earnings………………….. 115,488
——–
Total stockholders’ equity………… $215,488
——–
Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity $264,060
—————————————————————————-

—————————————————————————
Example 2
ABC SALES CO.
INCOME STATEMENT
December 31,199-

Revenue from Sales

Sales $732,163
Less: Sales returns and allowances… $6,140
Less: Sales discount…………….. 5,822 11,962
—— ——-
Net sales………………………. 720,201

Cost of merchandise
Merchandise inventory Jan. 1 purchases 530,280
Less purchases discount………… 2,525
——-
Net purchases…………………… 527,755
——-
Merchandise available for sale……. 587,455
Less merchandise inventory Dec. 31. 62,150
Cost of merchandise sold…………. 525,305
——-
Gross Profit……………………… 194,896

Operating Expenses

Selling expenses
Sales salaries………………….. $60,044
Advertising…………………….. 10,460
Depreciation-store equipment……… 3,100
Insurance-selling……………….. 2,080
Store supplies………………….. 2,010
Miscellaneous (selling)………….. 630
——-
Total selling expenses…………. 78,324

General expenses
Office salaries…………………. 21,032
Heating and lighting…………….. 8,100
Taxes………………………….. 6,810
Depreciation-building……………. 4,500
Depreciation-office equipment…….. 1,490
Insurance-general……………….. 830
Office supplies…………………. 610
Miscellaneous…………………… 760
——-
Total general expenses…………. 44,132
——-
Total operating expenses……….. 122,456
——-
Net income from operations……… 72,440
Other Income-interest income……. 3,600
Other expense-interest expense….. 2,440 1,160
——- ——-
Net Income……………………… 73,600
—————————————————————————

HOW TO ANALYZE YOUR RECORDS
To chart the progress of your business, you should become
familiar with various forms of financial statements analysis and
measurement.

Financial statements indicate which items need more attention.
For example, profits may be too low or rent unnecessarily high.
Perhaps there is a way to use the business vehicles more
efficiently, to increase inventory turnover or to reduce long
distance telephone bills.

In analyzing financial statements, carefully examine all items
that do not seem realistic. Answer the following questions:

– Why are certain expenses at a particular level?
– Are there any ways to reduce or avoid certain expenses?
– Should you incur all of your expenses?
– Does the level of profit justify your investment, time and
effort?

Financially significant items should be analyzed regularly. For
example, examine payroll as a percentage of total administrative
expenses. Keep in mind that, if your business is a
proprietorship, your salary is not a payroll expense; however, if
your business is a corporation, your salary should be a payroll
expense.

Analyzing Payroll Expenses
In justifying payroll and other expenses, answer the following
questions:

– Are accurate records maintained for time spent on various jobs
and functions?
– Is the eight-hour day of each employee accounted for
appropriately?
– When employees are paid overtime, is the additional expense
reflected in charges to the customer?
– Is the level of payroll expense appropriate for your type of
business?
– Are you billing on a guaranteed price basis or on an hourly
basis?
– When using guaranteed price basis for billing, does actual time
spent exceed time estimated for the job?
– Do employees work with a minimum of wasted effort and time?
– Are you operating at maximum efficiency? What strategies can be
implemented to maximize efficiency?

Ratios
Accountants use various ratios to evaluate financial statements,
such as ratios that assess liquidity, solvency and profitability.

Liquidity
These ratios indicate the availability of cash and the firm’s
ability to pay liabilities.

Current ratio: Current assets
——————-
Current liabilities

Acid test Cash, cash equivalents
(liquidity ratio): and receivables
———————-
Current liabilites

Day’s sales Accounts receivable
in receivables: —————————
Credit sales divided by 360

Inventory Cost of sales
turnover: ————-
Average inventory

Capital and Long-term Solvency
These ratios indicate the firm’s ability to meet debts when due.

Equity/debt Total equity
ratio: ————
Total debt

Total equity to Total equity
fixed assets ————
Net fixed assets

Profitability
These ratios indicate your firm’s performance.

Gross profit Gross profit
margin ————
Sales

Net income Net income
to sales ———-
Sales

Operating Income before income taxes
income to sales ————————–
Total assets

Return on Net income and interest expenses
total assets ——————————–
Total assets

Return on total Net income
————
Total equity

OTHER IMPORTANT RECORDS
In addition to accounting records, you will need to keep separate
records for accounts receivable, payroll and taxes, petty cash,
insurance, business equipment and perhaps other items.

Accounts Receivable
A good record-keeping system should provide you with a detailed
report of accounts receivable, including current information on
customers and a running balance of their accounts. To maintain a
good accounts receivable system, record credit charges on a
regular basis. It is essential that you follow up on all late
paying and delinquent customers.

Accounts receivable should be aged at the end of each month. This
means organizing the accounts into those that are current; 30-,
60-, and 90-days old and older. This arrangement helps you to
take appropriate, timely actions.

One example of a timely action is to transfer delinquent accounts
to a notes receivable account. Notes receivable are loans the
business makes to others, either inside or outside the business.
Each note receivable should contain specific terms of credit and
interest and should be signed by the customer. An additional
timely action to decrease the number of bad accounts and avoid
the effort of collecting payments from slow-paying customers is
to issue a formal complaint with your local credit bureau.

Payroll and Taxes
Current Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations require that
you withhold federal income tax and social security (FICA) from
each employee. You must remit the amount for taxes to the IRS on
a quarterly, monthly or more frequent basis. A detailed reporting
system for payroll will help you make timely tax payments.

Gather specific information about each employee on individual
employee record cards. All employees should fill out federal Form
W-4, which indicates their filing status and the number of
exemptions they claim. Use this information to compute the
federal withholding and social security (FICA) deductions for
each payroll check.

Prepare Employees Quarterly Federal Tax Return (Form 941) by
totaling each employee’s withholding for federal taxes and social
security. File Form 941 with the IRS.

Each payroll period, total the accumulated withholdings of both
federal taxes and social security for all employees. If this
total exceeds $500 for any month, you must deposit this amount by
the 15th day of the following month in a depository bank (an
authorized financial institution or a federal reserve bank).
Generally, when the total exceeds $3,000, you must deposit this
amount within three business days. Any overpayment in taxes is
paid back to you quarterly.

At the year’s end, you are required to prepare not only the
information normally required for that quarter, but also
summaries of each employee’s total earnings and withholdings for
the year (Form W-2). Provide this form to each employee and the
IRS.

A Word of Caution
It is very easy to fall behind in making tax payments. If you
find yourself short of cash, do not be tempted to delay payment
of taxes. The IRS will not bill your business for taxes due nor
will it notify you of late payments. Delayed payments can easily
add up to a large sum; the debt may impede the growth of your
business and may even force you to close your business, to say
nothing of the federal penalties incurred for late payments.

With a good record-keeping system, you can simplify the process
of filing taxes to the point where the information needed to
complete the forms is automatically generated. Setting up such a
system is a rather technical task and you may need to seek
guidance.

Petty Cash
Sometimes a petty cash fund is needed to purchase small items
required on a day-to-day basis. If this is necessary, draw a
check to petty cash for a nominal amount.

Problems often arise when cash is easily available; therefore, if
possible, avoid a petty cash fund. However, very often the
convenience of having a small amount of cash available will
facilitate the smooth operation of your business. Be sure to
balance this fund monthly, based on the cash balance plus
receipts for all expenditures.

Insurance
Most businesses have several types of insurance. For each policy,
you should have the following information:

– Clear statement of the type of coverage.
– Names of individuals covered.
– Effective dates and expiration date.
– Annual premium.

Review your insurance policies on a regular basis. In addition,
annually consult an insurance specialist, who will review the
total insurance package to determine what coverage is appropriate
and ensure that premiums remain in line with prior quotations.

Business Equipment
Keep an accurate list of permanent business equipment used on
both a regular and stand-by basis. The list should describe the
equipment and provide serial numbers, date of purchase and
original cost. Keep the list available for insurance or other
purposes. You will also need this information to prepare accurate
depreciation schedules.

ACCOUNTING SERVICES
You have several choices in who should maintain your accounting
system. You can

– Maintain the books yourself.
– Hire a bookkeeper on a full-time or part-time basis.
– Hire the accountant who set up your books.
– Set up a hybrid system in which you maintain the day-to-day
reports, while an accountant does the period-end record
preparation, summaries and reconciliations and the returns for
sales tax, excise tax and payroll taxes.

In making the choice, you must decide whether you have the
ability and time to set up and maintain good records or if you
should engage an outside accounting service. It is usually
suggested that you hire an accountant to do the final year-end
preparations and to advise you. No matter what you choose, you
should remain familiar with your books and participate in the
record-keeping process. This will maximize the services provided
by the accountant and allow you to keep track of your business.

Selecting the Accounting Service
If you decide to hire an outside service, find an accounting firm
that will work closely with your business and provide you with
the information necessary to develop a successful operation.
Interview several accounting professionals and compare their
level of accounting knowledge, computer literacy, knowledge of
and experience with small business accounting and any specialized
knowledge required in your business.

There are many types of professionals you may consider, such as a
certified public accountant, an enrolled agent or an accredited
accountant.

– Certified Public Accountant (CPA)A person who has passed the
American Institute of CPAs’ national examination, which tests an
individual’s ability in accounting, auditing, law and related
areas.
– Enrolled Agent (EA)An individual who has passed a two-day exam
prepared by the IRS, covering many areas of federal taxation.
This person is generally considered a tax specialist.
– Accredited AccountantAn individual who has passed a rigorous
examination prepared by the Accreditation Council of Accountancy
and Taxation, a national accounting accreditation board
affiliated with the National Society of Public Accountants and
the College for Financial Planning in Denver, Colorado.
Accredited accountants specialize in small business accounting.

Other accountants in public practice perform various levels of
accounting and write-up services.

When selecting an accountant, the cost of the accountant’s fees
must be weighed against the benefits received. Frequently, the
accountant’s professional advice can increase profits to more
than cover the expense. Monthly services by an accounting firm
will provide you with complete and timely information and also
will allow the accountant to develop knowledge of your business
and be in a more comfortable position to render professional
advice as the business grows.

Advice and Assistance
In addition to bookkeeping, an accountant can advise you on
financial management. He or she can assist with cash flow
requirements and budget forecasts, business borrowing, choosing a
legal structure for your business and preparation and advice on
tax matters.

Cash Flow Requirements
An accountant can help you work out the amount of cash needed to
operate the business during a certain periodfor example, a
three-month, six-month or one-year projection. The accountant
considers how much cash you will need to carry your accounts
receivable, to increase inventory, to cover current invoices, to
acquire needed equipment and to retire outstanding debts.
Additionally, the accountant can determine how much cash will
come from collection of accounts receivable and how much will
have to be borrowed or provided from other sources.

In determining cash requirements, the accountant may notice and
call attention to danger spots, such as accounts that are in
arrears or delinquent areas or areas of excess expenditure.

Business Borrowing
An accountant can assist you in compiling the information
necessary to secure a loan: the assets the business will offer
for collateral, the present debt obligations, a summary of how
the money will be used and repayment schedules. Such data show
the lender the financial condition of the business and your
ability to repay the loan. Remember, lenders have two very
definite requirements: (1) that the business have adequate
collateral to secure the loan and (2) that the business will be
able to repay the loan. An accountant can advise on whether you
need a short- or long-term loan. In addition, your accountant may
introduce you to a banker who knows and respects his or her
financial judgment.

Legal Structure
It is wise to discuss the type of business organization that best
fits your needs with an accountant and an attorney. They can
point out the advantages and disadvantages of the various forms
of business organization, such as a

– Proprietorship – An extension of individual ownership.
– Partnership – Multiple proprietors.
– Corporation – A completely separate legal entity.

In addition, they can advise you on immediate plans regarding
management, financing, long-range plans to bring others into the
business and estate planning, all of which affect the type of
business you choose.

Tax Considerations
This is an area in which an accountant can provide much advice
and assistance. Your accountant can suggest methods to record and
document the various types of information necessary for taxes.

APPENDIX A: FINANCIAL STATUS CHECKLIST
What You Should Know

Daily
– 1. The balance of cash on hand.
– 2. The bank balance.
– 3. Daily summaries of sales and cash receipts.
– 4. Any errors or problems that have occurred in collections.
– 5. A record of monies paid out, both by cash and by check.

Weekly
– 1. Accounts receivable (particularly those accounts that appear to
be slow paying).
– 2. Accounts payable (be aware of the discount period mentioned
above).
– 3. Payroll (be aware of the accumulation of hours and the
development of the payroll liability).
– 4. Taxes (be aware of any tax items that are due and reports that
might be required by government agencies).

Monthly
– 1. If you engage an outside accounting service, provide records of
receipts, disbursements, bank accounts and journals to the
accounting firm. This will allow the firm to maintain good
records and present them to you for review, consideration and
support in decision making.
– 2. Make sure that income statements are available on a monthly
basis, and certainly within 15 days of the close of the month.
– 3. Review a balance sheet that indicates the balance of business
assets and the total current liability.
– 4. Reconcile your bank account each month so that any variations
are recognized and necessary adjustments made.
– 5. Balance the petty cash account on a monthly basis. If you allow
this account to extend for a longer period, it may create
substantial problems.
– 6. Review federal tax requirements and make deposits.
– 7. Review and age accounts receivable so that slow and bad
accounts are recognized and handled.

APPENDIX B: INFORMATION RESOURCES
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

The SBA offers an extensive selection of information on most
business management topics, from how to start a business to
exporting your products.

This information is listed in “The Small Business Directory”. For
a free copy contact your nearest SBA office.

SBA has offices throughout the country. Consult the U.S.
Government section in your telephone directory for the office
nearest you. SBA offers a number of programs and services,
including training and educational programs, counseling services,
financial programs and contract assistance. Ask about

– Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), a national
organization sponsored by SBA of over 13,000 volunteer business
executives who provide free counseling, workshops and seminars
to prospective and existing small business people.

– Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), sponsored by the SBA
in partnership with state and local governments, the educational
community and the private sector. They provide assistance,
counseling and training to prospective and existing business
people.

– Small Business Institutes (SBIs), organized through SBA on more
than 500 college campuses nationwide. The institutes provide
counseling by students and faculty to small business clients.

For more information about SBA business development programs and
services call the SBA Small Business Answer Desk at 1-800-8-ASK-SBA
(827-5722).

Other U.S. Government Resources
Many publications on business management and other related topics
are available from the Government Printing Office (GPO). GPO
bookstores are located in 24 major cities and are listed in the
Yellow Pages under the “bookstore” heading. You can request a
“Subject Bibliography” by writing to Government Printing Office,
Superintendent of Documents, Washington, DC 20402-9328.

Many federal agencies offer publications of interest to small
businesses. There is a nominal fee for some, but most are free.
Below is a selected list of government agencies that provide
publications and other services targeted to small businesses. To
get their publications, contact the regional offices listed in
the telephone directory or write to the addresses below:

– Consumer Information Center (CIC), P.O. Box 100 Pueblo, CO 81002
The CIC offers a consumer information catalog of federal
publications.

– Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
Publications Request
Washington, DC 20207
The CPSC offers guidelines for product safety requirements.

– U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
12th Street and Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250
The USDA offers publications on selling to the USDA.
Publications and programs on entrepreneurship are also available

through county extension offices nationwide.

– U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC)
Office of Business Liaison
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Room 5898C
Washington, DC 20230
DOC’s Business Assistance Center provides listings of
business opportunities available in the federal government. This
service also will refer businesses to different programs and
services in the DOC and other federal agencies.

– U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Public Health Service
Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857
Drug Free Workplace Helpline: 1-800-843-4971. Provides
information on Employee Assistance Programs.
National Institute for Drug Abuse Hotline:
1-800-662-4357. Provides information on preventing substance
abuse in the workplace.
The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information:
1-800-729-6686 toll-free. Provides pamphlets and resource
materials on substance abuse.

– U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
Employment Standards Administration
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210
The DOL offers publications on compliance with labor laws.

– U.S. Department of Treasury
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
P.O. Box 25866
Richmond, VA 23260
1-800-424-3676
The IRS offers information on tax requirements for small
businesses.

– U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Small Business Ombudsman
401 M Street, SW (A-149C)
Washington, DC 20460
1-800-368-5888 except DC and VA
703-557-1938 in DC and VA
The EPA offers more than 100 publications designed to help small
businesses understand how they can comply with EPA regulations.

– U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
200 Charles Street, SW
Washington, DC 20402
The FDA offers information on packaging and labeling
requirements for food and food-related products.

For More Information
A librarian can help you locate the specific information you need
in reference books. Most libraries have a variety of directories,
indexes and encyclopedias that cover many business topics. They
also have other resources, such as

– Trade association information
Ask the librarian to show you a directory of trade associations.
Associations provide a valuable network of resources to their
members through publications and services such as newsletters,
conferences and seminars.

– Books
Many guidebooks, textbooks and manuals on small business are
published annually. To find the names of books not in your local
library check “Books In Print”, a directory of books currently
available from publishers.

– Magazine and newspaper articles
Business and professional magazines provide information that is
more current than that found in books and textbooks. There are
a number of indexes to help you find specific articles in
periodicals.

In addition to books and magazines, many libraries offer free
workshops, lend skill-building tapes and have catalogues and
brochures describing continuing education opportunities.

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SMB Reviews
SMB Reviews 487 posts

SMBReviews is committed to providing small and mid-sized business owners with the information and resources they need to select the best service or product for their company.

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