An evaluation of the use of accounting practices by small and medium enterprises in Zimbabwe and an assessment of their impact on business performance: A case study of the retail sector of Harare Metropolitan Province
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This study evaluated the use of accounting practices and then assessed their impact on business performance of retail SMEs within the Harare Metropolitan Province. There is little or non-application of accounting practices which therefore contributes to non-growth of these SMEs into large companies. The objectives of the study were to assess the extent to which proper accounting practices are being used by SMEs within the retail sector of Harare metropolitan province in Zimbabwe, to evaluate the impact of inadequate or improper use of accounting practices on business performance and to suggest ways in which small businesses can adapt or use accounting practices. The study adopted the triangulation research method where three data collection methods were used so as to increase reliability and validity of findings by obviating weaknesses of a single approach and thus balancing it with strengths of the other. These data collection methods included the survey method (whereby a questionnaire was designed and piloted), in-depth interviews and focus groups, where carried out using a purposively selected sample of owner-managers. The findings from this study show that SMEs keep some books of accounts and not all of the required books because lack of accounting expertise within their businesses. They are unable to hire or train their staff in the lacking skills because of lack of finance. A lot of the SMEs do not have filing systems which can be used in the assessment of business’ present and future performance. The study concluded that lack of proper accounting practices by SMEs in Zimbabwe is hindering the performance of their businesses’, thus, the lack of business expansions and continuity in many SMEs. Owner-managers running the business lack the accounting expertise and management skills. They also take the use of accounting practices for granted or as a burden. The study recommends there is a need for SME owner-managers to seek training in both management and financial skills so as to use accounting practices efficiently and effectively. Government of Zimbabwe should provide free trainings for all owner-managers on management and entrepreneurial skills so as to improve use of accounting practices.