Not Mad Men

Bull's Eye! The Ultimate How-To Marketing & Sales Guide for CPAs

AICPA; $125 for members, $156.25 for non-members

For all those who've been watching Mad Men and getting excited about the potential for alcohol, cigarettes and sexism to help them market their firms, we'll point out that the show is about advertising, not marketing. To learn about marketing, take a look at Bull's-Eye!, a new guide from the American Institute of CPAs and the Association for Accounting Marketing. It puts together processes, best practices and case studies from close to 40 leaders in accounting firm marketing to give you a blueprint to create an organized marketing and sales program that delivers measurable results. You'll have to find a different excuse for smoking, drinking and discriminating.

The right I's

Key Performance Indicators: Developing, Implementing, and Using Winning KPIs

Wiley; $39.96 (with WebCPA discount)

You know a business term has gone mainstream when people use its acronym in casual conversation, and don't bother to spell out what they're talking about. Following in the footsteps of ROI, FTE and P&L, KPI has achieved this kind of nomenclatural success - though Key Performance Indicators makes the claim that this widespread acceptance is accompanied by an equally widespread misperception as to what, exactly, KPIs are, and are not. The book makes an important distinction that separates performance indicators from results indicators (like profits, market share percentages, or customer satisfaction numbers), and gives an intriguing list of characteristics for identifying a KPI in the wild. (Hints: They're not expressed in dollars and cents, they're measured frequently, and they tie to the responsibility of a specific person or team, so you can call and ask why the KPI isn't better.)

Having defined a KPI, the book goes on to show how to identify them for a particular business, and more important, how to use them, with plenty of case studies and specific examples. There's also advice for KPI facilitators, and guidelines to help small and nonprofit businesses implement KPIs. All in all, it's a very handy reference for making sense of something people think they already know - but don't.

The executive washroom

Power Bites: Short and to the Point Management, Leadership and Lifestyle Advice I Give My Clients!

iUniverse; $16.95

There's an important management perk to being a CPA business advisor, and that's the ability to get a firsthand look at how lots other businesses are managed (or mismanaged, as the case may be). If you're paying attention, you can learn a lot - and Ed Mendlowitz has been paying attention. A CPA and partner at WithumSmith+Brown, he's been working with clients (and his own staff) for 40 years, and the result is this collection of short, valuable pieces of advice. Power Bites is less about making your business better, and more about making you better, as both a manager and a person. When we say that the short, easily digestible entries make this the best kind of bathroom reading, we mean it in a positive way - not least because the bathroom in question is the executive washroom.

Rare and intriguing

Accounting and Distributive Justice

Routledge; $110

Accounting and Distributive Justice is a fascinating rarity, on a number of counts: It moves easily between the airy abstractions of philosophy and the practical considerations of corporate accounting; it manages to make both accessible and interesting; and, for a book with a case to argue, it's admirably even-handed in its discussion of opposing viewpoints. Its author, a former accounting professor from the U.K., wants to propose a radical new purpose for accounting - to aid in the "distributive justice" of the title, by which he means, more or less, spreading the wealth. To do this, he first offers a clear, concise summary of a wide variety of economic theories on the purpose of business, covering everyone from Marx to Milton Friedman. His eventual choice of preferred theory may not convince you (it didn't us), but the tour of theories is worth the price of admission, and the rest of the book, which is dedicated to explaining how he would change accounting to serve distributive justice, is notable for its attempt to reconcile the demands of theory with the mundane complexities of daily accounting.

Nonprofits not excused

Achieving Clarity and Value from Nonprofit Financial Reporting, Ratio Analysis and Benchmarking

Lorman Educational Services; $159.20 (with WebCPA discount)

More and more, the only way nonprofit organizations are allowed to be different from regular businesses is in not making a profit - they are now expected to operate just as efficiently, using the same cutting-edge financial tools, with the same (or greater) transparency in financial reporting. This CD and reference manual package aims to help nonprofits learn how to do just that, helping them create financials that are clear and substantial, and contribute to the organization's mission.

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