Nicer nightmares

Managing Your Tax Season

American institute of CPAs; $75 for members, $93.75 for non-members

Tax season will always be a nightmare, but it doesn't have to be a wake-up-screaming-in-a-cold-sweat nightmare; instead, with some preparation and the right guidance, it can be more like one of those mild naked-in-a-public-place nightmares. Ed Mendlowitz, a partner at cutting-edge firm WithumSmith+Brown and a noted consultant to CPAs in his own right, has written Managing Your Tax Season for the AICPA to help you improve your nightmare, with valuable advice on analyzing your current tax season system and targeting problems. Covering everything from staffing and setting fees to maintaining morale, assigning work and cross-selling beyond tax season, it'll help you get through April 18 with much less sweating and screaming.

 

Professional hazing

How to Bring in New Partners

Rosenberg Associates; $95

Our process for on-boarding important staff involves a painful tattooing ritual and an all-night vigil on a mountaintop surrounded by wolves, but professional firms may prefer a more professional approach. Firm management expert Marc Rosenberg's How to Bring in New Partners offers up the latest thinking and best practices for adding partners at your firm, starting with what, exactly, a partner is these days, and moving on to compensation, buy-in, voting, capital arrangements and much more.

 

A giant in tax

Many Happy Returns: The Story of Henry Bloch, America's Tax Man

Wiley; $29.95

Henry Bloch, the co-founder and long-time public face of tax prep giant H&R Block, didn't want to go into tax prep originally - he and his brother were nudged into it by a classified ad salesman who wanted to run ads for the business. They soon recognized the potential, though, and began building their empire. Details like that are what make this biography well worth a look: Despite being written by Bloch's son, former Block CEO Tom, Many Happy Returns is more than willing to describe the Bloch brothers' business mistakes and missteps, if only because they almost always overcome them. Henry emerges as a man whose phenomenal success is based not so much on brilliant innovation (though some is involved), but on sound principles and a keen willingness to try, fail, and learn from his mistakes, as well as a certain fundamental decency.

 

Sales tax standards

Current Issues in Sales and Use Tax Reserves

Lorman Education Services; $175.20 (with AccountingToday.com discount)

With the holiday shopping season behind them, retailers across the country will be facing all sorts of sales and use tax issues, not least whether their reserve practices are up to snuff. Proposed changes to the standards, as well as aggressive state enforcement actions, are making it harder and harder to tell; this recorded teleconference and manual focus on the applicable standard, as well as potential future changes.

 

Too big to shelve

Barron's Finance and Investment Handbook

Barron's; $39.99

If you have Barron's Accounting Handbook (see our December issue), you know what a valuable reference it is; on the other hand, if you have that gargantuan tome, you probably don't have room for its similarly sized companion, Barron's Finance and Investment Handbook. Which is a shame, because it's full of useful information on investing and the markets, including plenty on regulators and regulations, and a 600-page dictionary of important terms.

 

Useful delusions

Being the Boss: The Three Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader

Harvard Business Review Press; $25.95

Like many a recent book on being a business leader, Being the Boss starts with the premise that most bosses and managers are thoroughly unprepared for their new positions. They have no idea of how hard they'll have to work, or how much they'll have to change the way they think, to be a successful boss. Based on decades of research, Being the Boss offers some insightful ideas on business leadership, built around a framework of three imperatives for bosses: managing themselves, managing a network, and managing a team. It should help clear up some delusions about what it means to be a boss - but on the other hand, if people didn't have those delusions, would they agree to become bosses in the first place?

 

Deflation

Management? It's Not What You Think!

Amacom Books; $22

At the risk of devaluing the Books Department, we here at New Products are willing to admit that an unhealthy proportion of the books that cross our desks do so on a current of hot air, with a few useful ideas inflated to the bursting point with meaningless jargon. No one can accuse Management? It's Not What You Think! of that. It's a collection of short, opinionated, often-funny pieces from a wide variety of sources that throws cold water on a lot of fashionable management theory with a bracing dose of reality. Perfect reading for the executive washroom.

 

Also in print

The Risk Management Association has released the 2010-11 edition of its Annual Statement Studies of benchmarking data, with financial data on hundreds of thousands of private companies in hundreds of industries. It's available in print, and in a Web-based format as eStatement Studies.

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