How Start-up Businesses View and Use Accounting in Early Year Operations

Contessa Hutchins

Authors:  Contessa Hutchins, Lisa Hinson CPA Ph.D.

Faculty Mentor: Lisa Hinson CPA Ph.D.

College:  Warrington College of Business


This research analyzes how start-up companies implement accounting in their early operations and if that use of accounting (or lack thereof) has played a role in acquiring funding. Prior research shows that the quality of financial statements positively affects investing efficiency for companies in emerging markets (Chen et al., 2011). In this paper, we evaluate the hypothesis that start-ups using financial statements more extensively receive more outside funding than their counterparts. This was tested with a 27-question survey broken into three sections: demographic, accounting use, and financial information. There were 44 participants. The typical start-up profile is 5-6 years old, employs ten people, and identifies in the technology industry. Approximately 75% of participants reported using financial statements. While mostly viewed positively, some participants feel strongly against using standard accounting practices. Results showed companies who use financial statements more often reported a higher percentage of debt and investment funding received than those who used financial statements less frequently or not at all. In conclusion, accounting helps start-ups communicate higher quality information to investors, thus leading to a better chance of capital investment/debt financing. This sample selection was not chosen randomly and, therefore, is not a statistical depiction of the entire population.

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19 Responses
  1. Awesome!! This poster and report will be EXTREMELY HELPFUL to Incubator Managers/Directors all over the world! I have already spoken to the International Business Innovation Association, and they are interested in publishing it on their website! Thanks for this great information!!

  2. Excellent job and analysis, Tess. I could not agree more with your research findings. This is a brilliant way to help early-stage entrepreneurs further understand the importance of accounting and financial statements…MONEY!
    – Jennifer Harrell
    Incubator Manager
    UF Innovate The Hub
    Fisher School Alum

  3. Merrie Shaw

    This report is spot on for the start up companies we deal with in Incubation. I’m having all of early seed entrepreneurs read and take note of this. Well Done!
    Merrie Shaw
    Assistant Director
    UF Innovate Sid Martin Biotech

    1. Tess Hutchins

      Thank you Merrie! Your words mean the world to me; I hope I can help some entrepreneurs too!

  4. Fantastic research, Tess! Your work is very helpful to early-stage entrepreneurs. Founders will be well served to read your findings. Thank you for sharing!

    Elliott Welker
    Incubator Manager, UF Innovate | Sid Martin Biotech

  5. Nik Mirsaderov

    Cool stuff! This is very useful in today’s world where entrepreneurs are everywhere. Accounting is a big part of today’s economy, especially in start-up companies. I’d like to see how your theory effects larger companies, such as Google or Facebook.

    1. Tess Hutchins

      Hi Nik,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Going into public accounting, I’ll be able to see how accounting affects larger publicly traded companies as well. Publicly traded companies (such as Google and Facebook) are required by law to issue financial statements so I imagine the issues they face surrounding accounting would be centered more on the business processes. It’s something I’d like to look into the more I get into the accounting career.

      Thanks again!

  6. Jacob ferris

    I like that you used the better poster idea instead of the traditional format. It really helps channel the reader’s attention and gives them the gist of what the project is about. Good work!

  7. Anna Welch

    This is a very interesting topic! How did you come up with your idea for it? I am an accounting student, and was wondering what research in this field looks like for undergrads!

    1. Tess Hutchins

      Hi Anna,

      I’ve been working at UF Innovate | The Hub for almost two years now so I’ve spent a lot of time around start-up companies. Since this is an area of interest for me, I wanted to focus on those companies and see what accounting looks like for them. There isn’t a whole lot of data out there that focuses on start-ups so it is perfect for creating some research of your own. I do recommend doing research locally as your data sets can make a bigger impact to those affected. Email me if you need help choosing a topic!


  8. Brooke Bernstein

    I like your inclusion of a QR code on your poster! I haven’t seen previous research on start-ups, so this was an interesting read!

  9. Courtney Janka

    Very important research for entrepreneurs! CEOs of start-ups wear so many different hats, it is important for them to see the benefit of taking the time to complete financial statements! Great job!

    Courtney Janka
    UF Innovate| The Hub