SOFTWARE & SUPPLIESPERSONAL ADVICE
If you had a partner who knew the business rules of all 50 states and could offer personalized advice to start-up businesses in any of them, you'd have a nice little service line - but you'd have to pay the partner. Instead, you can buy the Starting and Operating a Business line of e-books from Ronin Software, which comes with the Small Business Advisor software. Answer a few questions about the sort of business being contemplated and its location, and the software creates a personalized e-book with all the applicable state and federal rules, as well as a detailed checklist.
The e-books are regularly revised to stay up to date - which you can't always say about your partners.
On the one hand, the fact that Link2Gov, which has been accepting credit and signature debit cards for taxes since 2003, now offers a way to make many federal balance-due tax payments with a regular old PIN-less debit card is a major step forward in convenience. For a single flat rate of $2.95, we can now pay tax bills of any size as quickly, easily and immediately as we buy gum, cigarettes and beer. On the other hand, it's just another place online for us to mistype our card number six or seven times.
NOT TOO SMALL
Astonishing advances in transportation had truly made this a small world. Fortunately, astonishing advances in Web technology allow us to still maintain some distance. Take, for instance, Worldlink Pro from Live Conference Group, a Web conferencing solution that includes an automated PowerPoint presenter, synchronized Web page scrolling and the ability to record and store online meetings - and uses Voice over Internet Protocol technology to lower the cost. Sure, these days you can hop on a plane and be there in minutes - but you don't have to.
We have long wished that we could rearrange the months of the year. We would split up June, July and August, for instance, as three hot months in a row is simply too much.
While that's still technically impossible, Magnatag Visible Systems has taken a giant step forward with its modular, magnetic Month-to-Month calendar system, in which each of three or more months is a separate whiteboard that you can take down from the wall track, work on at your desk or in a meeting, and then return to the wall when you're finished so that everyone can know what's happening when. While it will not yet affect the weather, we have high hopes.
BI FOR GP
Bio Analytics Corp. has expanded its Bio business intelligence system to work with the Microsoft Dynamics GP middle-market accounting software, allowing GP users to access a wide range of business analysis and strategy functions.
The software easily incorporates Dynamics GP financial data, comes with pre-configured business views and report cards, and requires no high-level programming knowledge to turn financial and operational data into meaningful and actionable business intelligence that can help you and your clients grow.
PAPER FISH OUT OF WATER
Creativity is mysterious force - one that firms need to harness if they hope to keep high-quality staff and compete in an ever-more-demanding marketplace. One of the best approaches to creativity is through creativity, as How the Paper Fish Learned to Swim shows. Through a fable about an origami master whose paper creation becomes real (as well as a detailed case study and a number of scenarios), the book shows how to enable innovative thought in your employees, and how to nurture their ideas into practical, profitable applications.
All of which puts us in mind of the great Zen koan: How do you make a paper fish in a paperless office?
Amacom Books; $19.95
DETECTING FOR AMATEURS
Here's something you can try at home (or the office): Forensic Accounting and Fraud Investigation for Non-Experts. After all, fraud is everywhere, and expert forensic accountants can't be.
Aimed at managers, executives, criminal investigators and even prosecuting attorneys - anyone who doesn't have an accounting background - the book shows the layman how to detect, prevent and understand fraud. A great reference for any business client who's worried that Fred in accounts payable is dressing a little better than he used to.
John Wiley & Sons; $50
MAGIC SECRETS REVEALED
If accelerated depreciation is a kind of accounting magic, then those who master cost segregation are the David Copperfields of the field, pulling tax savings out of, if not hats, then at least the machines that produce the hats, and the air conditioning systems that cool those machines, and so on.
And that makes RIA's Real Estate Cost Segregation: A Tax Practitioner's Guide the equivalent of David revealing all his secrets - like how he convinced Claudia Schiffer to go out with him.
Thomson RIA; $54.95 (volume discounts available)
There's something about the stock market that turns normally savvy clients into raving lunatics who expect returns that are far beyond the realms of possibility. If you haven't gotten rid of them yet, one place to look for help in meeting their insane demands is The 90% Solution by investment advisor David Rogers, which takes aim at many of the traditional investment strategies, like "buy and hold" and standard portfolio diversification, and offers a wealth of innovative ideas and market-timing information.
We can't guarantee high returns - and neither does he - but at the very least he has a refreshing and interesting viewpoint on investment.
John Wiley & Sons; $24.95
One of things the accounting profession can be proudest of in the past few years is its effort to drum a little financial sense into America's thick skull. This is no small task, and while the many Web sites and educational programs are enormously useful, we'd like to suggest adding Good Debt, Bad Debt to the armory.
This sharp and humorous guide to debt and savings would make an excellent handout for clients (to say nothing of family members and staff ...), because it's written in clear language they'll understand, and can help put them on the path to fiscal and financial literacy. Plus, it has cartoons!
Portfolio Books (Penguin); $12.95
ALSO IN PRINT
Separate Account Bank-Owned Life Insurance: The Theory and Practice (The American College Press) ... Practical Guide to the Sec. 199 Deduction (CCH).
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