Posts Tagged "Business Owners"

Every small business should establish controls

Posted on Mar 5, 2014

Every week reporters publish stories about companies that have lost thousands, even millions of dollars because of fraud. They recount the dreadful details of business owners who learned – too late – that a lack of basic controls left their companies vulnerable to pilferage, embezzlement, and other types of misappropriation. How do these lessons apply to small businesses? After all, small firms generally can’t afford to hire internal auditors or set up separate divisions to break up incompatible duties. While it’s true that a small company can’t always protect itself in ways larger firms might, management can establish controls in certain high-risk areas, such as the following: Cash disbursements. If at all possible, the owner/manager should sign checks. This control has a dual purpose: management sees how the company is spending its money, and the cash disbursement function is kept separate from bookkeeping or accounting. If the same person signs checks and enters disbursement transactions in the accounting records, embezzlement is harder to prevent. Requiring two signatures on checks above a certain amount also provides greater control. Customer collections. Consider having the owner/manager open the mail, especially if customer collections are a regular part of your business. Alternatively, you might ask someone separate from the accounting function to open the mail and prepare the deposit slip. Of course, the practice of making daily deposits is also a good control. Personnel practices. By taking care to perform background checks before hiring key employees, especially those who will be handling cash or other high-risk assets, you can prevent problems later on. Of course, financial pressures, addictions, and other factors can corrupt even good employees. That’s why managers might consider discreetly monitoring employee lifestyles (without invading anyone’s privacy, of course). An observant manager might note that certain lower-level employees are living well beyond their means, or that warehouse staff are carrying off company materials to remodel personal residences. Perhaps a small business’s greatest control is the “tone at the top.” If management sets a high standard, employees generally follow. However, if a manager is perceived as lax – for example, he or she doesn’t respond quickly when evidence of misappropriation surfaces – employees might conclude that theft isn’t such a big deal. Remember this: A company that fails to establish minimum controls is providing a golden opportunity for fraud. If you’d like help reviewing your firm’s controls, give us a call. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in the McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates specializes known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws, we help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+ <> , LinkedIn <> , Facebook <> , and Twitter...

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How to succeed in a new business

Posted on Sep 25, 2012

If the current job market has you thinking about starting a business of your own, take some steps to increase the odds that your business will succeed. * The first step is an honest self assessment. Common characteristics of a successful entrepreneur are the drive to achieve and the willingness to take risks. To succeed in business, you need good organizational and people skills, confidence to make good decisions under pressure, and the emotional and physical endurance to work long hours. Experience in the type of business you’re planning is a major factor. * Take the time to do your homework. A business is more likely to fail if you’re in a hurry to open the doors. Consult trade associations, other successful business owners, governmental agencies, and professional advisors for information relating to your new business. Is there a demand for your type of product or service? If so, who will your customers be, and where should you locate in order to be easily accessible to them? How will you set your prices to attract customers, yet maximize profits? How will you make your business stand out from the competition? * Look for ways to limit your overhead expenses. For example, determine whether you should lease or buy your premises and equipment. If you only need an office to meet with clients, consider places that rent space on an as-needed basis and furnish secretarial help and equipment. Check out the benefits of an enterprise zone, where taxes and even the cost of utilities and phone service may be lower. * Incorporate your research into a business plan. Have your accountant assist you with this. Chances of obtaining the necessary start-up capital improve if you have a clear business plan. Opening a new business is the dream of many people. For guidance that can help improve the chances of success for your venture, give us a...

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