[IMGCAP(1)]People can learn new skills and either do nothing further or use it to grow.

Using my experience from consulting for an ice cream shop, I started to think about doing some extras for clients (see The Making of a Consultant). I still had my day job as an accountant and needed to follow the work schedule my boss gave me, but I now knew something and wanted to see how else I could use it.

My next opportunity happened while I was at one of my boss’s clients doing my regular work. Inoticed a renewal of the client’s business insurance and glanced at the policy to see what was covered. I saw that the inventory coverage was about a third of what was shown on the books.

I didn’t understand why and wrote a short memo to my boss to tell him this. At my boss’s monthly meeting with that client, he asked to see the policy and verified what I told him and showed it to the client, who was dismayed and immediately increased his coverage. About two weeks later, there was a fire in the factory and the insurance recovery was much higher, thanks to me. I was congratulated on what I found by my boss and the client the next time I went there.

My boss told me that from that point forward I should try to find one or two things each time I went to a client, and if I needed extra time, I should take it. My boss’s encouragement and my discussions with him about my findings greatly expanded my knowledge, skills and confidence.

Oops, I know you are thinking that the fire was not a natural occurrence. You are wrong! Don’t be so cynical. The fire was investigated, and nothing suspicious was indicated. And even though there was an insurance recovery, it never was enough to offset all the losses that occurred as a result of the fire. Further, my handwritten note, along with my boss’s meeting, was further “proof” of there being no plan to raise the insurance and cause the fire.

My experience has shown me that almost every businessperson is honest and hardworking and treats their business like an extra, and sometimes better loved, relative. People don’t start fires.

Regardless of the coverage, there are lost revenues, profits, opportunities and much nonproductive time in recreating what was there. No one comes out ahead after their business incurs a fire loss.

By the way, I was getting an enhanced reputation from the clients I worked on and better than expected raises from my boss because of my “value consulting.”

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is a partner in WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He has authored 20 books and has written hundreds of articles for business and professional journals and newsletters plus a Tax Loophole article for every issue of TaxHotline for 27 years. Ed also does a blog twice a week that addresses issues his clients have at www.partners-network.com. He is the winner of the Lawler Award for the best article published during 2001 in the Journal of Accountancy. He has also taught in the MBA graduate program at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Tax Court. Ed welcomes practice management questions and he can be reached at WithumSmith+Brown, One Spring Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, Tel: 732.964-9329 e-mail: emendlowitz@withum.com.


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