Friday, February 15, 2008

Orange County SCORE, the Top Producing Chapter in the Nation

This article was written by Ben McCulloch, SCORE Orange County Vice Chairman

It’s our pleasure announce that we’ve received word from our National office that your partner – the Orange County chapter of SCORE – was the top-producing chapter of the nearly 400 chapters across the US during 2007. A total of 12913 client services were performed. The top ten chapter locations represent a significant portion of US business activity:

1. Orange County 6. Chicago
2. San Diego 7. Phoenix
3. Atlanta 8. Houston
4. Los Angeles 9. St. Louis
5. New York 10. Portland
   

Obviously, this achievement is important to us. But what’s in it for you? The ranking measures the total volume of chapter ‘services’, where each service is an advisory transaction with a small business owner. This means that, during 2007:

  • We met with you over 4,000 times for one-on-one counseling at one of our sixteen locations throughout Orange County, or at your place of business for more comprehensive Advisory Council services;
  • Over 4,000 of you attended one of our business workshops, offered at 10 convenient locations and covering over 50 topics ranging from ‘Accounting’, to ‘Valuing Your Business’; and,
  • We conducted nearly 5,000 ‘cyber sessions’ over the Internet with small business owners across the nation who turned to Orange County to get their advice.

All this from a counseling team of 100 counselors: knowledgeable and experienced business women and men who volunteer their services without cost to you, and who connect you to their network of Orange County SCORE and national business partners.

So, what’s in it for us? First and foremost, our pay-off comes one client at a time. Each counselor works for your success, and each client ‘success story’ is a chapter win. However, being ranked #1 across the US gives us further indication that you value our services.

We thank you for a great 2007 and look forward to continuing to support the business of Orange County in 2008.

Another Lesson in Avoiding the Electronic Shoe Box: How to Use the “Ask My Accountant” Account in QuickBooks

This article was written by Dick Ginnaty, CPA

For the last two versions (2007 and 2008) of QuickBooks, there has been an expense account automatically set up by QuickBooks for new companies called “Ask My Accountant” (in the “Other Expense” portion of the chart of accounts). This account should be used as a temporary holding account for transactions in QuickBooks that you are not sure where it goes. Whenever you are unsure of the accounting on a particular transaction, assign it to this account.

Transactions such as down payments on equipment purchases, loan payments, loan proceeds, proceeds from the sale of assets, refunds, or rebates received, and credit card payments should be charged to this account. I encourage you to schedule a review with your accountant early in your adoption of QuickBooks (say after the first month and first quarter). Usually by reviewing these troublesome transactions with your accountant a couple of times, you will learn to account for them correctly and will not have to consult your accountant again. I also encourage a review of your QuickBooks accounting one or two months before year end. This will enable you to correct any erroneous entries, and facilitate a year end tax review at the same time.

(If there is any area in accounting or tax that you think needs to be addressed in this newsletter please e-mail Dick at Ginnatycpa@aol.com and if it is of general interest, he will address it in future articles)

Contrary to the marketing hype, there are transactions such as those listed above which are not simple, and are often misunderstood and incorrectly accounted for by the typical small business person. Even most automated payroll information downloads have to be analyzed, and redistributed before the financial statements will be correct. So don’t be embarrassed. It just isn’t that intuitive or easy.

Good luck and here’s hoping it “all adds up” for you.

Can a Small-Business Take a Big Business Break?

This article was written by Tom Snell, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

Many large corporations have a business practice called "off campus meetings". While this sounds rather fancy, it is no more then getting to people away from their regular workspace and putting middle and upper management level people in a different environment so they can think about something besides their everyday business tasks. The general motive for this is to prepare themselves for the future, rethink new strategies for current and future problems, realign everybody's behavior to current management thinking, bench mark what the competitors (both within their business field, and outside) have been doing, and generally renovate the morale and thinking of their team.

Sometimes these meetings are just across town, and other times, partially as a reward to their managers, it is in a conference center in a nice new city. Top management usually decides this. Often they bring in outside speakers ‘Often they have a theme, something like "managing for change". And sometimes they just want everyone to use the same buzzwords they do. Or follow some currently fashionable business thinking.

These meetings may run one or two days, and have people work in teams on a single subject, and then make presentations to the overall group, do team building exercises, or simply have classroom studies. Often they give up a half-day to rewarding their employees with some free time and activities, such as skeet shooting for the men, and massages for the women etc. Guess which part everyone looks forward to?

One of the unspoken advantages is that they get people talking to each other in person and making friendships, beyond that which people have with e-mail and phone calls. Thus people learn from each other

Now as a small-business person you may be thinking I have neither time nor money for this kind of thing. But that's where SCORE comes in.

Sometimes it seems that a lot of people think of SCORE as only someplace to use when starting up a new business, or someplace to run to when they are in real trouble. Between those two points, the running of the business on an ongoing basis lies many small businesses greatest opportunity. That is, maximizing the use of what they've got going, and avoiding pitfalls that may be awaiting them down the road. And you don't have to be in trouble before thinking about your business.

So, instead of an expensive meeting out of town, why not give us a call. We'll try to match you up with a counselor to talk about where you are today, and where you might be headed in the future. This probably won't take you more than half a morning. But it could easily refresh you in the same manner that “off campus meetings" those big businesses have. . Your counselor can be a sounding board, or possibly a mentor for future activities. By discussing things might find new and better ways of doing things. And you might red flag a problem that by taking action now you can avoid down the road. Sometimes you just need someone fresh to look at things, and give yourself a chance to rethink what you're doing. It won't hurt, and it's free.

Oh, about that part for the half day of employee’s reward. In case you don't have time for skeet shooting or a massage, your small-business substitute can be having a nice lunch at a good restaurant with your best friend, instead of another sandwich at your desk.

Rules to Work By

Today’s tip comes from Joe Di Stanislao, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

He includes these “management philosophies to ponder’ in the handouts for his marketing workshops.

  1. Effort means nothing…without results.
  2. It is not how much you do, but what you do and how you do it.
  3. Accuracy first. Then momentum.
  4. Become market driven rather than product driven (e.g. the Edsel)
  5. There’s no point doing well that which you should not be doing in the first place.
  6. The objective is to influence, not to impress.
  7. Become alert to the difference between effectiveness vs. efficiency.
  8. An accurate plan, regardless of how poorly it may be executed, is more effective than a vague plan that is carried out with brilliant precision.