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Best Small Business Blogs of 2017

I’m proud to announce that once again this blog was chosen as one of FitSmallBusiness.com‘s Best Accounting Blogs of 2017.  This year, they took all their “best of” blogs for small businesses and sub-divided them into fields, such as accounting, retail, finance, marketing, e-commerce, tech, insurance, real estate, legal, etc.  It’s solid one-stop shopping for the entrepreneur wanting to research topics that affect them.

As was the case last year, I’m especially pleased to be included in such impressive company, such as The Accountex Report (formerly the Sleeter Technology blog) and StacyK Academy (a favorite resource and speaker).

I started this blog as a space to store and index my research on various client accounting and tax issues somewhere within reach and easy-to-find, where others in my situation might also benefit from it.  I had no idea it would develop such a following.  The best part about the information age is being able to share our knowledge and experiences with each other — thanks for contributing!

Source: The Best Small Business Blogs of 2017

Best Accounting Blogs of 2016

FitSmallBusiness Best Accouting Blog 2016I couldn’t possibly be prouder than to announce that The Dancing Accountant’s blog has been chosen as one of the Best Accounting Blogs of 2016!  And it’s not just an exciting honor — it’s a humbling one, as many of the blogs that I read regularly (and in fact, that I link to from my own) were also chosen for the list.  Many of the colleagues I respect most, whose presentations I attend at my favorite conferences, are also on the list.  Industry leaders and technology gurus, software companies and app specialists, and quite a few niche CPAs made the list, too.  And with company like that… <blush>… I have to say that I am indeed, quite proud to have been tapped as well.

I’d like to thank the folks at Fit Small Business and encourage you to check out their site — they offer a comprehensive array of Buyer’s Guides and a pretty solid blog of their own, as well as a list of the Best Small Business Blogs of 2016.

I started this blog as a space to save my research on various client accounting and tax issues somewhere within reach and easy-to-find, where others in my situation might also benefit from it.  I had no idea it would develop such a following.  The best part about the information age is being able to share our knowledge and experiences with each other — thanks for reading!

This Is Why I Prepare All Our Firm’s Tax Returns Myself

Short, excellent article on how to balance workload between the data entry folks and the tax return reviewers at a CPA firm.  It’s all great advice — I recommend reading all the points the author makes regardless of whether you file your own returns, run your own firm, work at a large firm, or even do taxes at all.  Many of the comments regarding staff training, systems, and creating a culture of excellence hold true no matter what kind of work you’re doing — accounting, taxation, or… heck, architecture, human resources, photography.  Anything.

However, people are particularly emotionally stressed about their tax returns.  You simply cannot be careless with them.  And taking the time to go through someone else’s work line-by-line and sending back feedback would make me insane.  Worse, I could do as the author suggests and have someone else go through their work line-by-line — it’s a great idea, but I don’t think I could handle that… for accounting, yes.  There’s a materiality threshold.  But not for taxes.

(I’d find myself sneaking in a line-by-line verification myself regardless.  If my name is going on that return, it’d better be my work.  My mistakes.  Even if someone on my staff were perfect, I’d wonder and worry.  Not worth the stress.)

People often ask why I don’t expand further.  I have one staff accountant who is almost full-time, two very part-time Excel experts, and two very part-time bookkeepers.  The bottleneck is that I am the only staff member who prepares tax returns, so we can only grow so much.  I turn away a few clients a week.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that this is just fine.  My personality demands perfection — I don’t always achieve it, but I always strive for it.  And I read an article like this and immediately think, “oh my goodness, I’m so glad we don’t have to deal with that at my firm.”

As Khalil Gibran said, “Work is love made visible.”  Do your work and do it well.  It’s okay if you don’t make as much money as you could otherwise.  It’s okay if you don’t grow as much as other people think you should.  What’s most important is that you love your work, and that your clients can see this in everything you do.

2015 Best of Logan Square Winners + Honorable Mentions | LoganSquarist

LoganSquarist’s 2015 Best of Logan Square Winners + Honorable Mentions came out last week, but in my excitement about the Green Apple podcast interview, I haven’t yet made time to share!  SO many deserving local businesses made the list, many of whom are clients — congratulations to these folks in particular:

Dill Pickle Food Co-op
Winner, Best Grocery Store
Winner, Best Community-Focused Business

City Lit Books
Winner, Best Bookstore

Wolfbait & B-Girls
Winner, Best Clothing Boutique

Rosetta Magdalen, Flamenco Chicago
Winner, Best Business Owner
Honorable mention, Best Community Member

Cafe Mustache
Winner, Best Karaoke Venue
Honorable mention, Best Place To Work While Enjoying a Drink Or Two

Logan Square Farmers Market
Winner, Best Place to Make New Friends/Meet New People
Winner, Best Family Activity
Honorable mention, Best Unique Event
Honorable mention, Best Community Member (Paul Levin)

DAS Doner
Honorable mention, Best Place to Get Late Night Grub
Honorable mention, Best New Restaurant
Winner (among three), Best Brunch Menu Item – Donuts

Das Radler
Winner, Friendliest Staff at a restaurant or bar
Honorable mention, Best Place To Take A Date at a restaurant or bar
Honorable mention, Best Business Owner (Nathan Sears)

Check out the rest of the winners — many longtime friends and favorites made the list, here!

Interview on the new Green Apple Podcast highlighted in Accounting Today

A month ago, I received an intriguing email from a guy named John Garrett — a CPA-turned-comedian who gives frequent keynote addresses, and who is working on a podcast and book about accountants who stand out in their careers: in part due to being recognized for their interesting hobbies.  One of the fine folks at CPA.com had suggested to him at a recent conference that he speak with me.

Turns out we got along really well — he’s an engaging, funny person and asks interesting questions, and he interviewed me for his Green Apple Podcast (as the folks he hopes to highlight stand out, “like green apples in a red-apple world”).  It went so well, in fact, that he decided to feature me as his first interviewee when the podcast went live this past week.  Quite the honor — and as if that weren’t enough, Accounting Today picked up the news and mentioned me in their post!

If you’re a fellow accountant, I strongly recommend this podcast series.  The first three episodes are up now, and they really are inspiring and entertaining.  And if you’re not a fellow accountant, I suggest you listen anyway — much of what John’s trying to share is generally applicable, especially if you’re in the corporate world and feel disconnected from your colleagues.  He also speaks a lot about how we can inspire each other to share, to follow our dreams, and to conquer fears.  Can’t wait to hear more from this series.  Check it out here.

 

 

Speaking 8/4 at the NSAC Annual Conference in Denver, CO

I’m only half-a-day into the annual NSAC Conference and am yet again inspired to spread the word about how cooperatives are so well-suited to allow for positive change in our world.  By eliminating the traditional shareholder/investor structure and replacing it with the role of servicing members/owners — giving them an active voice in governance and focusing on their needs — we encourage workers and stakeholders to participate in a democratic process that creates a sense pride to all involved.

I’ll be speaking tomorrow at 1:15 pm, along with Pat Sterner from NCBA and Phil Miller from NSAC, on the topic of cooperative types that are less familiar to NSAC members: grocery co-ops, housing co-ops, daycare co-ops, and worker co-ops, as well as healthcare co-ops and buying/sharing clubs.  If you’re in the Denver area or are already attending the conference, I’d love for you to join us.

I met two great speakers today, Adam Schwartz, founder of The Cooperative Way (favorite quote of the day: “If you’ve seen one co-op… you’ve seen one co-op.”), and also a part of the CDS Consulting Co-op; as well as Vern Dosch, of the National Information Solutions Cooperative, and author of “Wired Differently” — an inspiring book about leadership through service, and how to attract and retain talented employees with a positive company culture.

If you’re not familiar with cooperatives, or even if you are, but need reminding about why they’re so special, let me share with you the seven principles all cooperatives hold dear.  They were summarized in so many different ways this morning, including Helen Keller’s great quote: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

1) Voluntary, Open Ownership: Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all people able to use its services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
2) Democratic Owner Control: Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members—those who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative—who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.
3) Owner Economic Participation: Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.
4) Autonomy And Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative’s autonomy.
5) Education, Training And Information: Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.
6) Cooperation Among Cooperatives: Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
7) Concern For The Community: While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.

Hope to see you in Denver.  Give me a shout-out on the 2015 TFACC app if you’re here!  If not, let’s plan ahead for the upcoming NCBA Co-operative Professionals Conference this November 9-11 in Minneapolis, MN.  I’m co-chairing the Co-ops 101 Pre-Conference and would love to see lots of attendance by accountants who wish to expand their services to include co-ops.

IRS Budget Set to Be Slashed Again

Unfortunately, Congress is clashing yet again over the state of the IRS budget.  Many are making this out to be an issue of partisan politics, but in fact, it’s an issue that should be completely independent of party lines.  Congress has increased the IRS’s responsibility year-after-year, asking them to monitor new programs and police tax evasion schemes, all the while reducing the budget for doing so.

“Starving the IRS costs the government revenue from tax enforcement, with about a $6 return on every dollar spent.”

In my opinion, this is not — or at least should not be — a partisan issue.  All of us accountants have had to deal with excruciating wait times at the IRS, elimination of hotlines, an increasingly untrained and inexperienced workforce… and the result is to hinder our work with clients.  We’re shooting ourselves in the foot, and setting ourselves up for failure.  “Penny-wise, pound foolish,” as one commenter stated.

If you have sway with your federal representatives, or feel like writing a letter to support increasing the IRS budget, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Source: Republicans Chop IRS Budget Again, Setting Up Clash with Obama | Accounting Today News

Best QuickBooks Conferences of 2015

I was chatting with my staff accountant the other day about her education and training goals for 2015, and she said she was actually more enthusiastic about QuickBooks-oriented training than tax-, technology- or industry-related conferences (which are my personal favorite topics).  That got me started looking into the “best” QuickBooks events of the upcoming year.  I’m sharing my research here but would love to hear any additional feedback from readers.

It seems there are three “biggies” in the specific world of QuickBooks: 1) QuickBooks Connect (a newcomer to the scene as of last year, but apparently big and beautiful), 2) Scaling New Heights (previously the star in the category), and 3) QuickBooks VCon (an entirely virtual conference, making it the obvious choice for the cash- or time-strapped).  Other resources are the annual Sleeter Group Accounting Technology Conference, which is not QuickBooks-specific, but does have many seminars on QB-related topics, including third-party add-ons, and the regular traveling schedule or online resources of QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program certification classes in both QB Desktop and Online, as well as POS, and

1) QuickBooks Connect — this conference had its inaugural year in 2014 and was apparently a big success.  See their “highlights” video here.

Personally, I’m not into the big-name inspirational speakers, concerts, and social “bonding” among new colleagues — but the actual list of workshops, panels, seminars and presentations was pretty darned impressive, with an optional pre-conference during which professionals could take certification classes and exams.

It’s slated for Nov 2-4, 2015 in San Jose.

2) Scaling New Heights — presented by Woodard Events, but contracted out by Intuit, this was until recently the “go-to” conference for QuickBooks users and professionals.  I’m uncertain as to how it’s different from QB Connect (New Orleans vs. San Jose, or is there more to it?), except that the sheer number and variety of workshops is mind-boggling.  The schedule and session description brochure was just released, and it’s wonderfully overwhelming.  (As a related aside, they also offer a series of free webinars with Intuitive Accountant, another favorite resource of mine.)

It’s slated for June 21-24, 2015 in New Orleans.

3) QuickBooks VCon – an entirely virtual conference sounds like an amazing way to save time and money… although also challenging if it is your main conference of the year, since it might be harder to convince yourself to maximize your time and attend all the sessions you can (when you could so easily be walking the dog or working on client projects instead).  That said, it’s put on by the same company that presents Scaling New Heights (above), is two-days long, and is Intuit’s single-largest event worldwide.

It’s slated for May 19-20, 2015.

4) Sleeter Group Accounting Technology Conference – not specifically QuickBooks-focused, but as one of the leading accounting software companies, there is a lot here to offer QB folks, not the least of which is exposure to third-party software add-on solutions and competing products (see my blog post).  PrintBoss even (mistakenly) refers to it as a “QuickBooks Conference” in their list of the best.

5) QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program – this is the place to go to find out about resources for certification, training, software, discounts, local advisor listings, support and more.  It’s free for QB Online consultants, although there is a charge for QB Desktop consultants (yet another indication that Intuit is encouraging folks to move into the cloud).

Not a QuickBooks consultant, but you use the program regularly in your job or in running your own business, or you’re applying for a job where they want proof that you know the software?  There’s a certification available for you, too: QuickBooks Certified User.

Other favorite QuickBooks training resources?  Please share in the comments below.