Sunday, December 25, 2005

Managing Your Small Business Risks

This year has brought about many different instances where small business owners had to deal with disasters and potential risk exposures. From the hurricanes that hit the gulf coast to the even more recent mass transit strike in New York City business owners must be responsive to the ever changing and unexpected occurrences in the daily operations.

This is why it is important for small business owners to plan for the unexpected by developing a contingency plan if a disaster or any other exposure arises. Although a small business owner may have more on their plate (dealing with day to day tasks) it is important to have a contingency plan to ensure the business can continue to operate after any unexpected risk exposure.

A typical business contingency plan would consist of addressing the following areas:

Technology Issues – How will data be handled, Is data backed up?
Financial Issues – Can income and expenses be tracked and completed? How will this be done?
Operations Issues - How will communication between employees, and locations be done
Any other business segments/infrastructure

By addressing this issues before risk exposure occurs can even make a small business more productive. When a small business “tests” various risk scenarios, they can often devise new product and service offerings and new ways to “do business” that can create additional revenue for the business.

Let me also take this time to wish everyone Happy Holidays and much success in the coming year!

Brian N. Stovall
Consultant – Accounting & Business Advisory
The Brico Group, Inc.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

OutSourcing Your Accounting Function

Small Businesses make up 50% of businesses and employ more than 98% of the workforce in America. Being that small businesses play such an important role in the American economy, typically what affects the economy will affect the small business owner. In the wake of large businesses financial scandals that are changing the way the government and regulatory agencies mandate new regulations, one would think what are the consequences if small businesses fall prey to similar scandals. The small business owner must take these issues into consideration for accurate financial reporting is not only a “Big Business” problem.

When a small business owner tries to tackle the financial problem alone, they are usually too caught up in the activities of bringing in new business to take any time out to “look over the books” or balance the checkbook. It is also difficult for the small business owner to stay current on all the new changes in the tax law that may affect their business. Despite all the government talks of tax simplification Congress has made more than 5000 changes in the federal tax law since 1986. Many of these changes resulted in new tax forms and instructions. The simple 1040 form with instructions is 107 pages. Small business owner must take into account these issues to ensure a solid future.

Typically a small business owner may attempt to alleviate the problem by purchasing an easy-to use software program to in a sense “do the work for them”. This attempt usually only puts the small business owner back into the same loop of trying to bring in new business at the same time managing day-to-day activities. The time training on the software and entering the data alone could be spent on revenue producing activities which is why often time a small business needs the assistance of a financial consultant to understand the in’s and out’s of financial record keeping.

Partnering with a Financial Consultant

When a small business brings aboard a financial consultant in conjunction with an accounting software package, all financial issues can be addressed. This will ensure that the smartest course of action is taken when making business decisions. At the same time the small business owner can focus their efforts on the revenue producing activities that will help the company grow. In particular entrusting financial activities to a consultant a small business can:

· Have more efficient tax planning- By preparing year round
· Improve cash flow- By knowing where the business stands at all times
· Have better insight as to where it is going- By utilizing accurate reports for decision-making.

Tax Planning

By partnering with a financial consultant, a small business will be able to uncover potential tax saving they can apply throughout the year instead of only at tax time. A financial consultant will have the time and access to various tax information sources that will provide the business owner with relevant information and concepts to apply to virtually any small business tax situation.

Cash Flow

Cash is the life-blood of any business especially a small business. Without cash the business will suffer and will possibly be forced to cease operations. By partnering with a financial consultant a small business’ cash flow position can be improved. The consultant can provide the small business owner with the numbers beyond just the bank balances so cash and/or financing needs can be addressed efficiently and effectively.

Management Controls

Many small businesses operate under a blindfold when it comes to planning for the future. By allowing a financial consultant to handle the tasks the small business owner will have a better grasp on where they are and where they plan to go. By focusing on journal entries, and various other financial reports the financial consultant can “forecast” potential business scenarios before they occur. This will empower the business owner will the necessary information they need to stay in line with their strategic vision.

The Financial Consultant- Your Business Partner

By investing in a financial consultant a small business can improve its tax planning, effectively manage their cash flow, and improve their management controls. It will also allow the small business owner to spend more time on revenue producing activities. Small business is a contact sport, it is important for the small business owner to make new contacts, maintain their present contacts, and keep in contact with their bottom line. By partnering with a financial consultant, small businesses can continue to be the backbone of the economy.

Brian N. Stovall
Consultant- Accounting and Business Advisory
The Brico Group, Inc.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Accounting Software ***NOW OPEN***

The accounting industry is taking more strides to provide more efficient software for small business owners. Although it has been around for quite some time, Open Source Accounting Software is gaining steam and additional customers from small business owners who are looking for a customizable solution to their accounting and reporting needs. Open source accounting software is software where the underlying code to develop it is shared with partners, Accountants/VAR’s (value added resellers), and end users to make everyone’s life a bit easier. Software developers have full access to the code and can create customized modules for small businesses to improve business operations. Accountants/VAR’s can improve their flexibility, by allowing them to import and export data between various other software systems, and management has the ability to be more efficient through better reporting and decision making.

There are some considerations that must be taken before implementing an open source accounting system. Upgrades to the software may be problematic if for some reason the underlying code of the system is altered somehow. This is why, as with any accounting system a small business utilizes that any technological upgrades and updates should be performed by your trusted technology consultant.

The market for open source accounting system has been seeing tremendous growth. Recently many Fortune 100 companies have requested open source accounting systems for their operations and some of the major players in the conventional accounting software market have developed tools to assist businesses. Sage Software’s MAS 90/500 accounting packages come with a tool call the “Customizer” that allows users to make changes to better fit their needs. Open source accounting software also make business operations move more efficiently with the addition of programming tools like XML interfaces, object oriented technology, and software integration modules that help businesses increase productivity.

Typically small businesses need a more customizable software program to operate their business and open source accounting software just may be the way. For more information on open source accounting software check out these sites:


OSAS – Open Systems Inc.


Until next time

Brian N. Stovall
Consultant - Accounting & Business Advisory
The Brico Group, Inc.
Small Business Consulting & Outsourcing