Double Exit

Basic Accounting in Business

I am currently reading Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos – a book about the everyday impact of mathematical illiteracy. By all accounts it’s a great read so far with some very good explanations and illustrations of mathematical concepts relating to everyday life.


However it wasn’t until I heard a recent podcast from Richard Curran’s The Business about a new maths class for businesspeople which has just started in Dublin that it linked back to me the importance of even basic maths skills when working in the world of business. Participants taking the course appear to be from a variety of different backgrounds and roles including buyers, sales reps and business managers. While ostensibly it is a maths course, in reality much of the focus actually appears to be on basic accounting concepts such as mark up and margin. Such concepts are fundamental to buyer and sales rep roles yet it appears that many lack the fundamental understanding of the difference between the two.

This example illustrates the importance of basic accounting/financial literacy for anyone working in business (e.g. mark ups and margins are crucial concepts for a sales rep selling his products or a builder pricing a tender). While the Accounting 101 type module is a gatekeeper for most business related courses (and rightly so I feel – I would say that though!) at third level, the majority of non-accounting based students appear to consider it a necessary evil rather than a useful skill for their future career path. Perhaps a more industry based focus on the importance of these concepts may counter the current aversion to this important area?

Accounting is, after all, the language of business – you may not require fluency but you still need to be able to communicate!

P.S. for anyone struggling with the mark up vs. margin issue here is a good link!

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