Trick or Treat: A Spooky Accounting Lesson

Halloween blogIt’s the scariest time of the year. With Halloween just around the corner, many people are facing their fears, whether it be goblins, ghouls or your kids eating too much sugar. But what you might not be thinking of is accounting. Or, more importantly, the fear that lack of accurate and correct financial data can cause.

Yes, I know numbers can be scary. Trust me, as the non-numbers person in an accounting world, I understand your trepidation. However, without useful data and accurate financials, your company could be in for a world of hurt worse than your “I just ate all the Halloween candy in one sitting” gut ache.

Here are four scenarios we commonly come across and the truth (or trick) behind them:

1. I don’t need accounting staff. I can do it all by myself.

TRICK: You’ve branched out and started your own business. You’re now your own boss and you can do it all! Right? Wrong. We often see companies who attempt to do it all on their own. The result? They have books they don’t understand and end up just entering numbers into a spreadsheet without making sense of them.

The problem with this is two-fold. One, it’s frustrating. When you don’t understand the basic financial state of your organization, let alone how much money you’re making (or losing), it can be hard to run a business. Second, solid financial data is essential in understanding where your business is currently and where you’re hoping to go in the future. Plus, potential creditors, investors and buyers like to see the numbers.

The solution? Hire qualified accounting staff. Ideally, this will be at least two people (possibly more, depending on the size of your organization): A bookkeeper to handle the day-to-day administrative financial functions of your organization and a controller/CFO/senior level financial professional to give you strategic direction and guidance. Don’t have the resources right now to make the hire? Outsource it.

2. My books show I’m profitable, so I must be in good shape right?

TRICK: Just because your books say there’s money coming in, doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear. Cash flow and profit are two different things. You need to keep a watchful eye on your company’s inflows and outflows, as well as your investments, purchases, etc. That’s why it’s important to take a look at your finances more than once a year. Ideally, you should be reviewing your financial statements monthly to ensure you not only understand your current situation, but also potential pitfalls to avoid.

3. I like to benchmark myself to ensure I’m keeping up with my competition.

TREAT: Benchmarking is an excellent way to keep tabs on the health and wellbeing of your company. It can help you assess performance and see how you compare to your peers. Further, it can help you gauge your current status and implement changes to help grow your organization.

Bonus tip (don’t you love getting two pieces of candy?): Not only should you be benchmarking your organization, but you should also be forecasting. This essentially means mapping your future into something banks and potential investors can relate to. Think profitability, growth rate and future capital needs.

4. I only meet with my accountant once a year … at tax time.

TRICK: Yes, it’s essential to see your accountant at tax time. After all, we all have to do taxes. However, by only seeing your accountant once a year, you’re missing out on the other services they can provide, including tax planning, reviewing your financials and helping you plan for the future.

The numbers may scare you and the subject may make you cringe, but a good accountant will help walk you through your financial data and ensure that you have the information you need to make decisions now and in the future for your organization.

5 Expo Tips to Increase Sales

Guest Blog by: Jessica Dehn of Launching You Now


5. Entice appropriate leads. Save up for a prize your perfect client would love. One they would be willing to sacrifice a space in their email to win. Be creative. This doesn’t have to be expensive but it does have to fit them to a T.

4. Invite them in. Pushing your table to the outer edge of your booth space like most other presenters is tempting. Getting closer to the client means you will get to “touch” more of them, right. Wrong. Just like whispering to a young child forces them to lean in to hear, stepping back from the outer edge of the booth space forces potential customers to come into your space, your turf. This pulls them from the throng of tire kickers; gives them room to step forward and see you. It lets you know, they are interested, in you.

3. Thank you gifts. Most companies toss out a bunch of trinkets and hope that they will get a call. It doesn’t work. You may choose to use a low cost item to get your name out. I usually just put out my cards and maybe a candy. I get promotional items to hand out to individuals who take the time to talk to me. Find a gift that will be used by your perfect client. Again, something that fits them, that won’t get tossed.

2. Signage. Size matters. Resist the lure to get lots of text/info on your signs. Fonts need to be large and readable from a minimum of 20 feet while moving. If you have more than a couple of words…passers by won’t read any of them. I love to use pictures that illustrate the feeling I want buyers to have with my logo and a couple of key words at most.

1. Get out and about. Many of the people you want to meet won’t happen by your booth. No problem. Make a plan to find them or meet them where they are…often in their booth.

Get more pre and post show tips for increasing sales and making the most of your next expo at

Yes We Can!

Guest Blog by: Jessica Dehn of Launching You Now

My two year old son has recently become a big fan of Bob the Builder. I would randomly hear him announce as he was playing with his toys;

Digger: “Hi, can we build it?”
Bulldozer: “Yes, We Can.”

Occasionally, he would be trying to get me to do something with him and he would announce with enthusiasm – usually contagious – “Yes, we can!”

Keaton: “Can we make hot chocolate, Mom? Yes we can! Let’s go.”
Me: “Uh, sure.” I may be a push over but why would I say no to that?

I actually didn’t know where this was coming from since watching Bob is part of his nightly Daddy Date and I had never seen an episode.

I am grateful for his encouragement and enthusiasm – whether his intention was directed at me or getting a chocolate fix. My sons can do attitude was something I needed to hear. Neck-deep in starting my business, “Yes, we can,” was sometimes the only thing that kept my head above water.

Inspiration from the Prairie Den, Fargo

Inspiration from the Prairie Den, Fargo

Many times, the next item on the never ending list of things to do is an item I am not actually sure I can do. I want to panic. I want to hire the job done. I want to skip it. I want to phone a friend. That is when I have learned, I have to take a breath and push through the fear. My two companions, YouTube and Google, are always there to offer direction so I am truly never alone to figure it out on my own. So far – in every case – I have been able to get the job done.

Being an entrepreneur we are always being called on to wear so many hats, it almost always overwhelming. Today I will choose take a lesson from my two year old business coach and believe, “Yes, we can.”

The Roles of an Accountant

 By: Ashley Cossette, Sr. Audit Associate

ac·count·ant – əˈkount(ə)nt

So you have a degree in accounting, work for a public accounting firm, and your name ends in CPA – so you do taxes, right? Wrong. Knowing the difference in practice areas matters to you and your business – it can mean the difference between being profitable or not.

By the way, what is a CPA? All Certified Public Accountants (CPA) are accountants but not all accountants are CPA’s. CPA is a highly reputable designation that signifies the accountant has achieved a level of expertise beyond that of a standard accountant.


Business AdvisoryAccountants that will help you put all the pieces of the business puzzle together and grow strategically.

Accounting and BookkeepingAccountants that make sure your financial data and records are accurate, timely, and useful. However, not all accountants that fit into this category are the same.

  • CFO/Controller – accountant(s) that ensures your accounting processes are running smooth and provides you with the financial data needed for decision-making.
  • Staff Accountant/Bookkeeper – accountant(s) that complete the day-to-day administrative accounting functions.

Tax Services – Accountants that understand the tax laws and regulations. They work with you to understand your unique tax situation to minimize your tax liability.

Audit Services – Accountants that understand the audit and accounting standards. Their services can be broken down into three categories: audit, review, and compilation. The primary difference in the service levels is the assurance provided as to the accuracy of the financial statements. The more assurance provided; the more inquiry, analysis and detail testing is applied. But remember, they don’t all work for the IRS.

The most important key is to know your needs and know your accountant! You want the best qualified accountant to fulfill your needs.

Upcoming Blog Topic: Ways your business can benefit from the resources a CFO/Controller provides.