In Pursuit of Profit
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Originally published: 7/31/2018
When we published this article originally, it was almost two years before the pandemic changed day-to-day accounting activities and the way bookkeepers and accountants work. What we have seen in the years since is an uptick in financial professionals asking questions around the timing for things like reconciliations and reporting. The monthly or quarterly schedules they once leaned on for basic accounting activities seem to have gone by the wayside in favor of more frequent, or even real-time, generation and analysis.
Bank reconciliations in particular are becoming increasingly important for organizations in today’s rapidly shifting business landscape. As financial transactions are getting more complex, cyber fraud is becoming more prevalent, compliance requirements are increasing, and timely financial decision-making is more important than ever before, bank reconciliations are at the epicenter of today’s accounting activities.
Don't wait around for "the right time" to improve your accounting functions! Now is the time to stop putting off the planning and cleanup work that always seems to get pushed to the backburner. Commit yourself to embracing a culture of continuous improvement – looking for places where you can overhaul whatever is broken and streamline areas that are not working optimally.
So, how do you identify where your accounting department needs to improve?
Ask your accounting team and any staff that deals directly with them where their pain points are and what they would prioritize fixing. By including both the team’s feedback and the rest of the organization’s perspective, you will get more balanced input on what kinds of changes should be prioritized.
Focus on operations, processes, and policies with the potential to have a big impact on either efficiency or accuracy. Possible areas to focus on include:
As the year wraps up, now is the time to plan and prepare for your upcoming tax filings. What should you be thinking about now personally and professionally to make smart tax decisions? When will you need to bring in professional to ensure you are on the right track to minimize tax obligations and facilitate business growth? Use this comprehensive checklist to avoid missing any critical components of your tax strategy:
2020 has been a year of disruptions and reactions. Companies have reacted to supply chain interruptions, new regulations, shifting market demand, and staffing issues, among other challenges with some faring better than others.
Marcus Wagner explains, “Because of COVID-19, businesses and their accounting departments are going through a cycle of shock (and maybe some denial), survival, learning and adaptation. For those of you who haven’t done so yet, it’s critical to begin the shift into the learning and adaptation phases as quickly as possible so we emerge stronger as a result."
Adapting has been critical thus far and will continue to be as we move into 2021. An adaptation mindset allows your business to respond to current challenges and anticipate future disruptions to generate better financial outcomes. Companies with accounting teams that adapt quickly can minimize revenue loss during a downturn and capitalize on revenue opportunities faster during a recovery period.
After your business has closed, you are probably ready to get rid of whatever you do not need and move on to your next endeavor. Unfortunately, not keeping key documents can get you in trouble with the IRS or state treasury department long after the business has closed. However, companies generate a tremendous amount of paperwork every year between tax filings, employment records, benefits information, licensure, property certificates, financial reports, and insurance documents. While it is less common, the Social Security Administration, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Immigration and Naturalization may also ask for business records after your business has ceased operations as well.
So, what should you keep, and for how long?
Billing fraud is the most common type of fraud that small businesses experience, accounting for 27% of all fraudulent activity.
Billing fraud primarily occurs in one of three ways, when employees:
While employees may justify their illegal actions due to need or entitlement, billing fraud ends up costing small businesses billions of dollars every year.
Starting a new business is one-part passion and two-parts paperwork.
Entrepreneurs can quickly get overwhelmed by the vast federal, state, and local requirements in place to regulate the formation of new businesses. Furthermore, focusing on requisite steps can distract new business owners from asking astute questions and doing critical market research to hone their business ideas.