Art of Accounting: 6th year anniversary

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This is my 312th weekly column. Once a week for six years! I have been very fortunate to be able to write and post them. I also had the support of a great editor, Michael Cohn, and the perfect publication for these types of articles — Accounting Today.

Believe it or not, but the hardest part of writing these columns is choosing a topic. Getting the topic means I need to be alert to what I see and hear and try to relate it to my and my colleagues’ practices, which I like to refer to as businesses. Workers work in a practice and owners run a business. I have made it my job to try to move my colleagues’ thinking toward the very important role of running their accounting business.

When I started this column, I hoped I would be able to write about two dozen columns that were somewhat autobiographical, sharing my experiences with colleagues, so I am very grateful of being able to continue for so long.

A few things occurred during this journey. Some columns had many comments posted that brought up new ideas or added insights. One of the articles generated over 60 comments and direct emails. The comment section was removed so there is no longer space for them but I still get plenty of emails. I try to respond to all comments and emails, except those I deem nasty, and they are ignored. Some of the comments end up as the subjects of later columns. Also, I appreciate the emails and comments since those give me the opportunity to learn.

I still try to inject my personal views or experiences, but along the way I seem to have become an advocate for small firms, for women and minority groups, and for a stronger and more deliberate management of accounting practices. My focus has always been on the practical application of takeaways to use to increase revenues. Further, I do not believe I have ever written anything here (or on my twice-a-week blog at www.withum.com/partners-network-blog) that could indicate my personal political views, so that avoided considerable controversy that is not productive to an accounting business.

I actually learned my writing method from my son Andy when he was in junior high school (in the mid-1980s). One night I was bugging him to get the report he needed to do as homework finished and when he finally sat down, turned on the computer and faced the blank screen, I wanted to know where his report was. He gave me a quizzical look and my wife said, “He has to write a report and that’s how he writes.” Until then I had used the word processor as a fancy typewriter, simply typing out a document from my handwritten notes. That became an aha moment. Andy was using it as a tool while I was using it as a method of transcribing what I wrote. From that moment on, I have started with a blank screen and if necessary have some notes handy. See, you can learn from anyone, at almost any unexpected time.

I am proud of this column and even more proud that the editors entered this series in a publishing industry contest and it won the first prize in its category. This was the Eddie Award from Folio magazine last year. The Eddie name has nothing to do with me.

My first 156 columns were published in a book by Rick Telberg, publisher of CPA Trendlines and the first editor of Accounting Today, and hopefully he sold enough books so he will publish the 156 columns I just completed in another book. Here is a link if you want to buy the book titled “Call Me Before You Do Anything” and you can claim a 25 percent discount with the code EdSentMe. You can avoid buying the book since most of my columns are in the Accounting Today archives — just search my name and go through the columns.

I thank all of my readers who inspire me with their emails and calls and will work hard at making the next 156 columns even better and more relevant.

Do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com with your practice management questions.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. Ed is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 743-4582 or emendlowitz@withum.com.

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Practice management Ed Mendlowitz