PSM Club

A place for discussion

Can CPAs Do More Than You Think?

Written By: psmclub - Dec• 03•13

Let’s say that you’re running a business – or even just planning to start one here in Virginia. You have a sound business plan, and you’re reasonably financially savvy. But you know that there are limits to your financial knowledge, and you’ve started to wonder, “Could a CPA help me manage my business finances more effectively?” The answer surprised me, so it might be helpful to you, too.

In order to know if a CPA can help you, you need to understand the range of services that they provide. Even today, many people have the misconception that they just handle accounting and taxes – balancing books correctly, and making sure that best practices are followed. Until recently, that’s just what I thought. The reality is that they handle a much wider range of services that includes just about anything that has to do with finance.

If you’re planning to start a business, you’ll need to establish healthy practices from the very beginning. Trust a CPA to show you the financial data you’ll need to track, the tools to gather that data, and the insight to properly interpret it. You may also need help finding the right dividing line between business and personal finances; a CPA can make this murky line clear, and move it to your best advantage.

CPAs can be equally valuable if you’re already running a business – even if your accounting books and taxes are already in good hands. This was my situation when I began researching CPAs here in Richmond. I sensed that my profit margins were a little lower than they should have been, and thought there might be some ways to improve them. I didn’t know what to change, or if a CPA could even help, but I thought I’d find out.

Now I know that a CPA can help you look into the future, avoid pitfalls, and leverage advantages – even if they’re not strictly accounting-related. For example, a CPA might suggest re-negotiating credit terms with vendors – perhaps extending the payment window or instead seeking a discount for paying early.

That’s exactly what my CPA did for me. My business’ cash flow was pretty good, and I was able to leverage that by paying two of my key vendors more quickly than I had been. In return, both vendors offered me discounted pricing; in the short term, I have less cash on hand, but that discount immediately boosted my margin. It wasn’t the kind of advice I was expecting to get from a CPA, but now that I know better, I’m looking forward to more smart insight from mine.

Which Business is Best to Buy?

Written By: psmclub - Nov• 26•13

Tips For Finding the Right Businesses Matching Unique Interests and Skill setts

I’m always surprised to hear most people who are thinking about opening up their own business haven’t looked farther into buying or opening a franchise location. I say this because there are so many benefits that come with franchising that simply cannot be had when starting a company on your own. I think a big part of the problem is that when the average person thinks about a franchise their minds immediately go to McDonalds, Days Inn, H & R Block or other well-known stores that are franchised.

business opportunities found with a brokerThere are literally hundreds if not thousands of different franchise opportunities out there for people who know where to look. And you may be surprised when you find one that offers similar products or services to the business you were planning on opening from scratch. The first thing you need to do in order to properly investigate one of these opportunities is look up a local Business Broker serving your area. I found a great one in Phoenix, click here if you want to speak to him. It’s an often overlooked resource that the most successful people use.

Getting another perspective on the business you are trying to get into can also help with your decision. It’s always a good idea to have multiple sets of eyes and different points of views on the market research you have done to see if the company you are looking into is viable in the location or market you are trying to enter. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain when you seek out professional guidance for your entrepreneurial decisions. Owning your own business can be very rewarding, especially when you are making a nice profit with the help of a business broker.

One Electrical Device You’ll Never Regret Installing

Written By: psmclub - Nov• 15•13

My sister-in-law lives nearby, just outside of Denver. Her house has always been beautiful – a family gathering spot that you would always plan to visit on Thanksgiving and Christmas. That is, up until this year. A couple of weeks ago, a fire in her house damaged the kitchen and another room in the house.

It’s not a tragedy – no one was hurt, and insurance will cover at least most of the damage – but it could have been a lot worse. Two of my relatives were upstairs when it happened, and could have been badly hurt. Tragic or not, the fire offers a lesson: if a smoke detector had been installed, there might not have been any damage – or danger – at all.

That fire was a wake-up call for me. When I was growing up, there was always a working smoke detector. But now that I’ve gotten older, smoke detection is something I’d kind of forgotten about. Not anymore. I arranged to install one a few days ago. If you would rather not install one on your own, I’m sure there you can find an electrical service here in Denver that would be willing to do it for you.

There are a few different kinds of detectors to choose from nowadays. Some use an optical detector; these sound an alarm when a monitored beam of light is obscured or scattered by smoke particles. Other detectors use ionization; smoke causes a difference in ionization that the monitor can detect.

Which works best? Both work well, but optical models are best with smoke, while ionization models are best with flames. Many people opt for both kinds of detection – either in a single detector with two monitoring systems, or one of each model. As smoke detectors aren’t a huge investment, especially considering what they do, maybe a little extra protection is a good idea.

Today you also have a choice of batteries that wasn’t available when I was young: traditional alkaline or modern, longer lasting lithium-ion. Alkaline must be replaced more regularly, while lithium-ion models can last so long you could forget the battery altogether. Only you know which choice is right for you.

Do something good for you and your family today. Buy a smoke detector today, or make an appointment to get one installed. You’ll never regret having one, but you’ll certainly regret the day you needed one that wasn’t there.

Window Tinting Saves the Game!

Written By: psmclub - Oct• 01•13

This past Sunday I almost missed the big game because I could not see the screen through all of the glare. It was insanely bright here in Northern Virginia!

As a long term member of my fantasy football league – not to mention in second place right now – I NEED to see the games and really know what’s going on for my next picks. But back to my terrible window glare dilemma…

With summer going to fall, the sun has turned it’s bright attention to my living room window – at the worst possible time of the day; kickoff! It was so bad that I could not avoid squinting just to see the TV. And, even worse, my 1970’s Brady Bunch dark wood paneling makes the room look like a cave if I shut the blinds. OK for me, but my wife hates seeing the room dark. OK, so watch the game in a dark room and upset my wife, or go blind? I’ll take blind, thanks!

But it didn’t come to that. My buddy and partner in the league stopped by just before the game started and saw my dilemma. Not only did he invite me to his home to watch but also let me in on his big secret to success – tinted windows! I didn’t even know you could tint home windows but his looked great!

The tinting kept out the solar glare, added privacy to his home and even improved the house’s outward appearance. Unreal! So we watched the game (our team won!) and I went home and immediately started searching for window tinting in Alexandria VA, where I live.

It did not take long at all and I have an appointment to get the windows done this Saturday so I can host the event next week!

Youth Football – Cheap Entertainment

Written By: psmclub - Sep• 25•13

One of my new favorite weekend activities is going to watch my 10-year-old nephew play football. It’s a great chance to spend some time with my sister and my other nephews, as well as get a little fresh air after being a desk jockey for 40 hours during the week.

He started playing last year, actually. Sign up was pretty simple: All my sister had to do was pay the league fees and take my nephew to get a sports physical in Richmond (near where she lives). The expenses mounted quite a bit after that, though, with pads and uniform and cleats and helmet and everything else that goes with the territory. But soon enough, he had everything he needed.

My brother-in-law is a coach this year, defensive coordinator in fact, which is kind of humorous to me because the guys on the team are mostly just a little more than waist high. It’s even funnier when you see them play and there doesn’t seem to be much coordination to their defense at all. I know my brother-in-law has worked hard but the players often look like they’re just running around willy-nilly, while he stalks the sidelines shouting and grimacing, alternately shoving his hat down hard on his head and yanking it off in disgust. It’s truly an entertaining spectacle.

My nephew takes it all in stride, though. He’s a pretty tough kid and obviously enjoys the game, tries hard, and has a desire to win. Also, he plays offense, which has their own set of problems, but at least he’s spared the intensity of his dad’s coaching.

When to Call the Pros

Written By: psmclub - Sep• 24•13

My brother, the handyman supreme, highest order of the species, has a term for guys like me: Harry Homeowner. You see, he has always made his living right here in Richmond as a professional carpenter, and if you think that means he’s always building things with wood, think again. Carpenters basically learn how to do a little bit of everything: painting, electrical, plumbing, and more. So he’s really a jack of all trades, while I’m a guy who’s just trying to make a few little repairs without turning them into big repairs.

I’ve tried my hand at numerous projects around the house, including hanging doors, installing cabinets, and even roofing my shed. I’ve have some success with a couple of electrical projects, too, and I’ve only shocked myself once. The one thing I try to avoid, though, is plumbing.Hiring a Professional Plumber

I think my greatest fear with plumbing is the damage I could do if I don’t do it right. Water leaks are no joke and can lead to replacing floors, ceilings, vanities… the list goes on. Sure, I’ve replaced the float contraption in the toilet before, but I’m just not comfortable with much more than that. If I even suspect that a project could end with water going someplace it shouldn’t, I find a company that does plumbing repairs in Richmond, VA and save myself a lot of worry. My brother might scoff at this but I’d rather have that than a more expensive repair because of my Harry Homeowner lack of skills.

Business Communication

Written By: psmclub - Sep• 04•13

The Need for Well Functioning Office Phone Systems

Communication is an essential part of day to day business, one the any successful company should understand. This holds true both within a company and outside of it. Employees need to be able to efficiently communicate with one another so they can coordinate get things done quickly and cohesively. What’s even more important is the ability to communicate with business partners and customers or potential customers from the outside. When you have outstanding customer service where they can reach a person and find real help, it will keep them coming back to your business for years to come.

office phone pictureUnfortunately, many office phone systems that are needed to communicate properly are often outdated, need repairs because they stop functioning properly for one reason or another or they simply need to be upgraded to a newer system that has the features and functionality that is demanded by modern business. These modern business phone systems can be very expensive and some of the companies like Nortel and Avaya that are some of the biggest names is office phones can take a while to ship parts or repair your system.

Finding a faster moving company that can still handle large business phone system repair or replacement jobs such as Phillips Telecommunications can be the difference between experiencing down time or paying too much for a new phone system and having a system that is affordable while still offering all the modern functionality you need. These mid-sized companies are able to do so much that the larger ones cannot such as providing personalized service and smaller repairs the moment you need it with their service contracts. Keeping the phone system in your office running is critical but not difficult if you find a good telecommunications company to support your telecom needs.

Window Film Eliminates Morning Glare

Written By: psmclub - Aug• 26•13

The cool New York summer is almost over with and it has been wet and cold outdoors. One of the reasons that I’m glad we got the bay window for the front of the house is the weather we have had for the last several months. The natural beauty of the Adirondacks is amazing throughout the year, but the fall is the most intense time of year because of the intense yellow, red, and orange painting the woods. However, the blazing sun in the morning has been irritating.

The front of the house faces due East so that when the sun rises over the horizon for the glorious day, its bursting light washes into the bay window and lights up the kitchen. It can be ethereal, if you like to wake up at crack o’dawn. Being night owls, we knew we had to find a solution to block the lighting as well as preserve the view from the home. We found Apex Window Films provides window tinting in Rochester.

Their staff was amazing when we called. Beyond the price comparison of getting a free estimate, they were helpful in giving us the correct residential window film terms that our family needed to communicate what we wanted. We were able to find a product that would reduce the glare but not distort the beautiful afternoon view.

  • Sun Control Window Film is a brand name of 3M
  • Fading of our carpeting, couch and floor is caused by UV rays and window film can help eliminate or sharply reduce the damage
  • This type of film can reduce glare on computer and television screens

The crew showed up on time for the installation.  They truly cared for our home as they took measures to carefully move all the nick-knacks out of the way from the window sill. They quickly measured and cut the tint to each individual window pane. The job didn’t take quite as long as I expected, but you could see immediate difference. It was an amazing vista that we would be able to enjoy without the sun being our alarm clock.

Roof Repair or Replacement

Written By: psmclub - Aug• 23•13

Next to a solid foundation, your roof is the most important aspect of protecting your home from the elements. Having a quality roof can not only increase the value of your home for years to come, but help prevent other potential damage from occurring as well. Not long ago, I was in the position of needing some roof work done, and had to find a local roofing contractor and look into many of the different options available.

a picture of the new roof I had installed on my home in Fairfax VirginiaFor me the cause was storm damage to a section of asbestos shingles which they no longer manufacture. I had a few options for either a repair with a different type of shingles that looked similar or a complete replacement. After some research and asking around, I decided it was about time to have the whole roof replaced. This was something I was dreading but at least a friend was able to suggest a reliable Arlington roofing contractor in Northern VA for the work that they had used before for roofing repairs and replacement windows.

One of the things that was a big priority to me was energy efficiency. I had a few other upgrades to my Northern Virginia home in the past few years all with the same theme of trying to make my home be able to function without the big energy bills. I was able to find a high tech roofing option with new shingles that were light in color to reflect sunlight and yet still had a classic looking design. While the price of any roof-work is sometimes hard to stomach, I always sleep better at night knowing my family is protected with a solid roof over their heads.

Commercial Window Film Options

Written By: psmclub - Aug• 01•13

When most people think of commercial window tinting, they usually picture right away the darkened windows on tall skyscrapers or local upper-end car dealerships and things of that nature. While this is one of the most common forms of window film for commercial properties, there are others that are great for large and small local businesses alike. Some of these include the following:

  • One-way film
  • Decorative Window Film
  • Skylight Window Film
  • Safety and Security Window Film
  • Anti-Graffiti Window Film

an example of commercial window film after installation is completeOne-way film is the most common form of commercial window tinting for businesses as well as large office and government buildings near the Los Angeles area and throughout the country. It blocks light as well as UV rays and heating from entering the building. In addition, they will reduce glare and save on cooling bills making them a great choice for any work environment.

Decorative window films are pretty much what they sound like; they are more form than function although they do often serve as a form of privacy for the use on interior glass and windows. Skylight film is designed to let just the right amount of natural light in through skylights while still increasing energy efficiency and protection from the sun.

Anti-graffiti as well as safety and security window film are great window tinting products for any commercial property that is concerned about safety and potential damage to the property. Anti-graffiti film goes over outdoor surfaces, and is easily replaced so any unwanted artwork can be quickly removed from that surface through cleaning or replacement of the film. Security film strengthens windows in they do not shatter upon impact making it extremely difficult for a potential thief to enter through your windows.

Choosing which type of window film largely depends on what set of features you are looking for such as style, safety, sun control, or protection.