Think bookkeeping is all work and no play? It’s true that accounting doesn’t always make the biggest splash when it comes to exciting careers, but you might just find yourself delightfully surprised by the rather unexpected side of this industry.
Here are 5 fun facts to keep you entertained the next time you sit down to tackle your own small business bookkeeping.
1. Bean Counters
Not only a graphic reference to someone who fusses over the smallest financial detail the term bean counter is also the topic of many a lively debate in the accounting world. What exactly is the official origin of this unofficial label? According to some history-based theories, a bean counter might be:
- A nod to the Greek nobility of 2500 years ago who used colored beans and specialized counting machines to award coveted political roles
- A literal reference to early 20th century shop counters where dried beans were sold to the public
But the modern use of the title bean counter for an accountant or bookkeeper didn’t emerge until the 1970’s, when it was quite possibly inspired by the extremely strict cost and inventory controls that were often employed inside the commercial and military food industries.
2. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous
Many of the world’s rich and famous began their careers as proverbial bean counters, or at least pursued an education with that intention in mind. Some of these celebrities include:
- Comedian Bob Newhart,
- Author John Grisham, and
- Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones
While the switch from a career in accounting to one in the arts might seem a little strange at first, consider this. Stand-up comedy, fiction writing, and musical ability all demand the understanding and application of patterns that aren’t so very different from those used in mathematics. Whether it’s crafting the perfect formula for a punch line or plot, or mastering the notes, chords, and strumming patterns of a six-string guitar, there is indeed some practical common ground between science and art.
3. Chew on This
While working as an accountant for Fleer – a Philadelphia-based manufacturer of candy and gum – Walter Diemer enjoyed playing around with the company’s gum base product when he wasn’t busy checking invoices.
One fine day in 1926, Diemer hit upon a recipe that was far less sticky, and far more “stretchy” than the standard chewing gum of the time, and it wasn’t long before millions of bite-sized, paper-wrapped versions of his bright pink chewing gum were exploding onto the market as Dubble Bubble.
4. Ahead of His Time
If you think your small business bookkeeping is a chore by today’s standards, try imagining life before the invention of the calculator. Popular opinion credits Leonardo da Vinci with the concept for the world’s first mechanical calculating machine. And he came up with his design long before building one was even a practical possibility.
In 1967, in the National Library of Spain in Madrid, a couple of long-lost da Vinci documents dating from the 1500s were discovered and sent to IBM for analysis. A working prototype of the device described in Leonardo’s sketches was soon built, and the world was introduced to the very first adding machine.
5. Accounting Crime Fighters
Ever heard of a forensic accountant? The FBI coined the term in 2009 when it first created this dedicated position for a new department of special agents responsible for analyzing the financial records of suspected criminals. Today nearly 15% of the FBI special agents are accountants.