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Hi. My name is Terry, and I'm the President of Quicksilver Accounting & Consulting,  Wilmington NC.

I created this blog to offer little hints, ideas, strategies and sometimes just silly excerpts from life to help other entrepreneurs gain insight.

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Written in Wilmington, NC

Sunday
Nov062011

On our way to The Sleeter Group Conference

There is just something great about going off to a trade conference.  First, you know there are like minded individuals there looking to find the same thing you are on a search for.  Vendors are lining up to give you free stuff and tell you how great your lives are going to be if you purchase their products. Peers want to discuss the nitty gritty of your profession in hopes we can all improve. The hotel we are at this year is brand new- so I'm looking forward to a comfy bed and a bit of luxury. Viva Las Vegas.... here I come. Did I mention the shopping, that we are going to see "Love" by Cirque de Soleil while there and play a little routlette as well?

Kidding aside, conferences are hard work, long hours, long plane trips and lots of listening. I love the atmosphere and look forward to coming back with new ideas for my clients, and readers as well.  If you are looking for a solution- send me a note and I will look for you.   In particular, I'm looking for a good bar code reader so I will be dropping in to WASP, and I want to meet the principles of our portal company, Cloud9 as well. Also checking into Xero- I think that might be the new 'real deal'.

Saturday
Oct152011

Are you nimble, like jack?

I read an article in Accounting Today that was very interesting titled The agile CPA Firm, by Rebecca Ryan.  I realized as I  read it, the information could really apply to many types of companies, so I would like to give you the jist of it here..

Agile firms are....  more profitable -because they are obsessed with the client experience, and the ability to turn their knowledge into a value added propostion for their  clients. 

Agile firms are...nimble- they can adapt quickly to market changes because of tighter reponse cycles. They regularly round up and discuss information gleaned from clients to find out what they want.

Agile firms are.. lean- they aren't bogged down with unnecessary overhead, staff structures and regularly 'cheap out' on perks. They don't pay the most, but their employees are loyal because they feel they have a say in the business. They run like a bootstrapping start up from day one forward.

Agile firms are... obessed with improvement and innovation- they mine the processes and markets for new ideas. They use the lean process to eliminate waste and tools like analytics to weigh everything they do.

Agile firms are.. IT adoptees- they are already on FB, Linked In, and are finding niche softwares that others don't pay attention to. They are the front end of new happenings, not the followers.

Agile firms are... open and transparent- clients can see their information and measure progress, they have a commitment that information should be shared. They trust both employees and clients.

Agile firms are... value-added, not time centric- they offer flat fee pricing when possible, and see themselves as a partner in their clients business, not just a vendor.

You can read the whole article here...

Sunday
Aug282011

What makes small businesses fail? Is that really the right question?

There’s been a lot written on this subject,  but is that what we should really be pondering? Maybe we need to flip it around and ask, what makes small businesses successful?

One reason some do best is because they took the time to research several different ideas before starting up.  There must be a real need for your product or service, and the margins you can make must be worth your effort.   Nothing is more critical to your success than if potential customers are actually going to buy at the price that makes you a profit.   Many companies can’t make the revenue necessary because of competition, scale, location, knowledge, experience, costs, or high fees. Entrepreneurs might be great at their craft, but smart ones took enough time to find out if it was a viable product or service and what profit margin would it support.

Companies become successful when the model they create is correct for their product or service. Have you ever wondered why some companies that have the same widget are more successful than others?  I believe it’s because of the time and effort put in at the beginning to bring their service or product to market,  the way it is packaged or conducted and the marketing of their unique ability in that area has created an enthusiasm the customer can see and feel before making that leap of faith to purchase. Good companies spend time perfecting their product, system and procedures before they go to market.

Another reason businesses become successful is that the entrepreneur realizes that they can’t do it all.  They seek good counseling, they outsource areas that are possible, create alliances and move to a centric position to allow others to help the company grow.  They know that leverage is the key to taking the step from small business to larger growth and aren’t afraid to delegate to experts in their field. Did you know that a large percentage of entrepreneurs give up because they decided it was just too much work? Understanding the concept of leverage is critical.

They plan and set goals.  A company that doesn’t plan for success will not sustain itself.   Successful companies have a plan for what the company looks like in a year, two and maybe five. If you don’t, it’s going to look very similar to how it started out- light on policies, no budget, no systems and one or two owners working unsustainable hours with little or no time for working on the company or personal life.   Companies must be ready for growth before it happens. 

Successful companies know that the accounting piece is extremely important.  You can’t plan well when you have incorrect numbers or make good decisions if you are basing them on incomplete records. These companies know that a once a year visit with a CPA isn’t a substitute for weekly or monthly accounting. They create a budget each year, and they analyze the numbers.  They will hire and fire earlier because they can see the trends in the monthly financial reports. They look for operational problems and adjust costs earlier than competitors that wait till year end to see if they made any money. They ask and heed advice from their accountant throughout the year ( as an accountant,  there is nothing more disappointing than pointing out areas that can be improved to the client who’s asked your opinion, and after they confirm there needs to be changes,  watching them continue down the same old path to ask the same questions again the following year).

It’s important to smart entrepreneurs to constantly improve business knowledge, no matter how successful they’ve become.   They read business books, go to conferences with their peers, listen to other business owner’s problems and success stories and admit needing experts when appropriate.  They are willing and eager to change. They look for technologies that can help them run their business.

The final area that successful businesses seem to be better at is cash management.  They keep daily outlays to a minimum.  They know who owes them money, and set policies to receive it on time.  They pay their vendors in a systematic way, conserving their cash position.  They take advantage of discounts. They don’t pay interest on credit cards. They make sure there is a real return on investment of purchases.  They leave money in the company for raining days and growth by not draining reserves with large distributions. They monitor their balances to make sure they have enough cash on hand when necessary so they are never caught off guard.  They look at their planned growth to know if they will need a loan in the future, and start the process well before it’s time.  

These are just several of the area’s that lead to success for entrepreneurs running small businesses. Each business is unique unto its owners, but although each company is different, they are also very similar at their core.

Wednesday
Aug172011

Discover what's in the QBS toolbox...

Every day we use business tools to help improve our productivity. Some times we stumble upon them by chance, other times we are enlightened by a co-worker or find something useable at a conference. Here are some of the tools that help us- and might just be what you are looking for as well.

 

Sendthisfile.com   If you have to send larger files to your clients, this program is great.  It’s much faster than sending anything by regular email and it encrypts it as well, to create a safe alternative. You have the opportunity to send five files at once and your recipient has three days to download the file.  If you want private branding, or your clients need longer to download, there is a paid version as well.

 Roboform This is a program we all use every day at Quicksilver.  It’s very inexpensive and comes in several formats.   This program stores and saves all types of form entries such as user names and passwords.  As you know, you can’t do anything anymore without being asked to create a login. This program saves everything you instruct it to and fills in the information next time you return with one click.   You must create a master password and if you lose this you are just completely out of luck! Not even the company can retrieve this for you and everything is locked down and not reachable thereafter, so make sure it’s something that you can absolutely remember, yet considered strong for security.

 

Logmein.com This is a good way to connect to your client’s computer by remote access. One of the best reasons we use it is because even though we are a windows based environment, we can still connect to a Mac environment and work in their files.  It’s also good if you travel and you need to get information from your computer.  If you upgrade to Pro version you can print at your location from the remote computer as well.  There is an additional download called Hamachi that is for network environments.

 

Skype This is a great tool if you have business overseas and need to contact others in various countries, as well other states here.  Can be downloaded for free and used for voice and video calls over the internet. It also has conference call capabilities and instant messaging.

 

Google Gmail with calendar and sync  When you sign up for a Gmail account, a calendar comes with it.  If you have a Smartphone these both can be pushed there. And if you like Microsoft Windows, you can also sync all three so that you can write an entry into your calendar from any of these areas and sync them all within a few minutes. How cool is that!

 

 

Pidgin  The VP at our new division introduced us to this free program.  We’ve downloaded this with the option to startup with our computers. What makes this program unique from other instant messengers is the ability to login into multiple accounts such as Yahoo, Gmail and AOL, and access those all in one place. Now that we have two offices, we can get information back and forth within seconds, answer each other’s questions and stay in contact as if we were in one office.  I have to admit, we have even used this when we are just in the next office or down the hall. It’s been a great addition to our toolbox!

 

 

Sunday
Jul312011

Are you running your business, or is it running you?

When it comes to quality of life, there is a major irony in owning a small business.

If asked, most people will say one of the reasons they started their business was to have more freedom; to create their own working schedule.  The reality is, if you are successful, that freedom is lost because there are many other jobs that come with running your company which take large portions of your time.  This is the biggest complaint I hear when I’m working with a new client- they just can’t work any harder.

Maybe it’s time to start thinking above LEVERAGE.   Take some time to write down just how many hours various tasks take you to do.  What tasks could you delegate to other people, either staff members or independent contractors? Business administration functions can be given to a virtual admin who works at a per hour rate.  Calls for leads can be handled by outside sales professionals who work strictly on commission. Collections can be given to companies who do this best.    And of course, the area that takes the most time, accounting,  can also be leveraged to companies such as Quicksilver who can do all of it from their own office, saving you rent ,space, computers, insurance, etc.  

Then take the hours you get back and work a few of them into creating sales.  Now you have covered the cost of the outsourced agents, and still have a few hours left for yourself.  

A sign of good management is learning how to delegate the areas that won’t increase your sales, and maximizing the hours available for people who are best at selling your product or service.

I’ve planted the seed… now investigate if this idea could be what you need to run your business better.