Accountants are indispensable in our system of government. Once every year the majority of Americans make arrangements to fulfill an obligation to their government by filing a Tax Return. Most people need help filing their taxes, so they hire a tax preparation professional which could range from a CPA for a business to a tax consultant for an individual or couple.

Bookkeeping

Payroll, etc.

Bookkeeping is an interesting subject in more ways than one because of the intricacies involved as well as the extent to which it is utilized in our personal and business lives. So what goes on in the accounting and bookkeeping departments at big and small businesses alike? And what do these people we know as bookkeepers do on a daily basis? Well, one thing they do that is terribly important to everyone working in those businesses is payroll.

All the salaries and bonuses earned, and taxes paid by every employee every pay period have to be recorded. The payroll department has to ensure that the appropriate federal, state and local taxes are being deducted; and the pay stub attached to each employee paycheck is an ongoing record of these taxes and any number of other deducted items.

Deductions

Such items usually include income taxes, social security taxes and other employment-related taxes that have to be paid to federal and state governments. Other deductions include personal items, such as retirement savings accounts like 401(k), IRA, RRB (Railroad Retirement Board Benefits, as well as vacation, sick pay and/or medical benefits. It’s a critical function, and for that reason, some companies have their own payroll departments while others outsource it to bookkeeping specialists.

The accounting department receives and records any payments or cash received from customers or clients of the business or service. The accounting department has to make sure that the money is sourced accurately and deposited in the appropriate accounts. They also manage where the money goes; how much of it is kept on-hand for purposes such as payroll, or how much of it goes out to pay what the company owes on its loans, to its vendors and other such obligations. Some may also be invested, depending on the particular business policies.

Receivables

The other side of a receivables business is the payables area, or cash disbursements. A company writes many checks during the course of a year in order to pay for purchases, supplies, salaries, taxes, loans and services. The accounting department prepares all these checks and records whom they were disbursed to, how much and for what.

Accounting departments also keep track of purchase orders placed for inventory, such as products that will be sold to customers or clients. In addition to all these responsibilities, they also keep track of assets such as a business’ property and equipment, which often includes the office building, furniture, computers, and even the smallest items such as pencils, pens, notepads and other similar paraphernalia.

Small Companies Can Pursue Big Business

In the movie “You’ve Got Mail”, if you put the love angle aside for a moment you’ll remember a sub-plot in which heroine Annie Reed (played by Meg Ryan) was forced out of business when big-time bookstore owner Sam Baldwin (played by Tom Hanks) moved into town.

You may recall that Annie owned a quaint little bookstore which she inherited from her mother, and although the prices of her books were a little steep, she makes up for it with excellent service which included packing the books in a specialized bag and knowing all her customers by name.

Sam, on the other hand, moved into town to build a branch for a big chain-bookstore which offered discounted prices out of a huge building which housed the company’s operations, which made Annie’s little bookshop on one corner of the town’s street seem inconsequential.

As the movie went, Annie was forced out of business because her customers went to Sam’s monstrous bookshop, and although they did not get the kind of customized service offered by the small “mom and pop” store she operated they paid less and presumably benefitted from having a larger selection of books.

The movie aside, however, this situation no longer holds true in the modern-day business environment, as more and more small businesses are blazing the trail and giving big businesses a dose of their own medicine.

Thinking back to the movie for a minute, we’re told that Annie was forced out of business because she can no longer realize a profit due to her prices being too steep as compared to her competitor’s big business discounted rates; and therefore her only edge is to provide personal service and employ a very small staff (about 2 or 3 employees).

As a small organization you may consider incorporating these tools, resources and features in your daily operations as your edge in competing against the big business sharks. That having been said, here are a few tips on how you can hold your own against a big business:

1. Small businesses have big competition. This means that you need to know how to survive out there. No matter what nature of business you own or manage, it is better to learn about the competition so that you will be able to survive.

2. Keep your business alive. When it seems as if your cash flow is on a downward spiral, keep a tight rein on your budget. Do not spend on unnecessary business purchases, and always balance your books. If you are one who is prone to buying on impulse, or if you are the type who listens to those that sweet-talk you into purchasing “necessary” items, control yourself. Get a second and third opinion if possible, as these impulsive buys may lead to the end of your small organization.

3. Do not be afraid to seek professional help. The fall of most small businesses start with decisions on problems which are not carefully analyzed. Although you may think that you already have a contingency plan, make sure you have foreseen the results of a particular business decision; but in the long run, it is better to seek professional help than to embark on a plan that could lead to the downfall of your business.

4. Keep your books straight. The better option is for you to hire an outside accountant who is a professional to figure the returns of your investment and handle other financial aspects of your business.

5. Take advantage of every free business counseling whenever available. This not only helps to broaden your knowledge, but it will also give you an idea of how other businesses are managed by small-scale owners.


6. Know exactly where your business is headed. In your day-to-day operation, make sure you know where you want your company to be five or ten years down the road, and be always aware of the trends in your industry. Practice good money management and learn how to recognize potential problems before they arise.

7. Learn how to market your small organization. Marketing is not about trying to sell your products and services to everyone, but rather, it is about knowing who to market your products to. In marketing, it is good to remember these fast facts:

  • Know about your customers.
  • Communicate with your customers.
  • Build a good and personalized relationship with your customers.

This will be a great edge for you to have against the bigger companies. They might offer discounted prices but it is harder for them to keep track of customers on as personal a level as you can.

Never Stop the Marketing Process!

As a small organization, you need to routinely review the markets that you need to pursue so that you can better reach out to your customers. Remember, small organizations are big businesses these days so do not be afraid to work hard for the company that you have – no matter it’s size; because ultimately, if you work hard, make wise business decisions, learn how to market your small business and personalize your customer interaction, your small-scale business is sure to rise to the top.

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Creating a Warm Contact List for Job Hunting

Usually when you are looking for a job, you would ask for help from family and friends, in the sense that you would contact these folks to ask for information on current job openings, business opportunities and tips.

Your family, relatives and friends belong on your warm contact list, since the warm contact list is comprised of people with whom you have, or have had, a personal relationship or association. So an example of a warm list contact might be a former classmate, office mate or neighbor, not to mention a brother, sister, aunt or uncle.

Here is a selection of others who may be included in your warm contact list.

Relatives and Friends

These are people are always willing to help you in your job search or business venture. They will be able to provide you information if they have it, or refer you to trustworthy people who will be able to assist you. If they were to introduce you to some of their contacts, they can surely provide you with honest and reliable information regarding the person you are going to be associated with.

Members of the church, political party, social club or fraternity or sorority

You probably would not have expected it, but people who share the same faith, beliefs or hobbies may also help you with finding a job. You may have a different career from theirs, but they might know somebody who is in the same field in which you are seeking employment or will be able to help you in your career.

However, depending on your level of association with them, they may think twice about giving their opinion or thoughts about their contacts. Their opinion can sometimes help you in developing a strategy on how to approach and ask for help from their contacts.

People who sell you things

You may think that your relationship with these people is purely based on trading goods and services, then paying for them. However, people who sell you things are also sources of information when networking.


Since these people sell their goods to different types of individuals and businesses, they might be associated with somebody who belongs to the same field that you are seeking employment in, or have heard information about your target job from their other clients.

These people will also be happy to help you, since they know that maintaining a pleasant relationship with you means a stable business for themselves. Also, you having a good job means you have increased your purchasing power, and then it could also mean that you may purchase more from them.

Former employers, colleagues or co-workers

Maintaining a good relationship with previous employers and colleagues has more benefits than you can imagine (it pays not to burn bridges?). This is the reason that most people try their best to iron out any difficulties with their previous employers even if they are no longer associated with the company.

Aside from the possibility that your potential employer will call previous employers when they review your job history, former employers and colleagues are also good sources of information relating to that field.

When you ask for help from family and friends, there is a possibility that the information they provide you with is just from another source. They may not be able to give you first-hand information or detailed information unless they also work in the same field that you are seeking employment in or would like to return to.

Things are very different when you consult former employers and colleagues from the same sector. They will be able to provide you with valuable information and may also be able to clarify such information and answer any questions you may have.

Members of your professional organization

If you belong to a professional organization related to the field in which you are looking for a job, you can consult that organization for current postings from the members. If you don’t belong to any such organization, consider joining one since this will be beneficial to you career growth.

A professional organization can provide you with unbiased information on current job openings from its members. The organization can also give you details on the company profile and even on current market and career trends.

These are the most important people that you should include when creating a list of your warm contacts. It is better if you contact them all so you can have as many options in your job search as possible. When you talk to them, tell them that you are actively seeking a job.