Blog

5/03/2017 | Zinman & Company | Click here to listen on iTunes


4/21/2017 | Zinman & Company

Your CPA was there for you during tax season, providing expertise, guidance, and support. But did you know now that April 15th (or April 18th, as was the case this year) has passed, you need your accountant more than ever?

Accountants are a vital piece of your daily business puzzle, with their services diverging well beyond taxes, bookkeeping, and payroll. Yet consider the following: many business owners hire a CPA only to help them pay less – less on taxes, less on operating expenses, less on everything. That’s all well and good, but beyond that, your CPA can and should provide expert financial management services. Why is this important? It is estimated that upwards of 80% of all corporate insolvencies result from poor financial management. To avoid being a statistic, your focus should not just be on analyzing and reporting historical data, but proactively creating and managing your current and future financial picture in real time. That means working with your CPA throughout the entire year, not just during tax season – because by then it’s too late to make any real and impactful change.

Here are just five examples of the many roles your CPA should be playing in your business:

1. He/she should be providing regular and timely guidance when it comes to monitoring income and expenditures plus managing cash flow. Your business can’t be profitable if it’s spending as much as it’s taking in.

2. Your financial picture should be expertly managed by your CPA, enabling him/her to plan, forecast, analyze, and reset your business plans as necessary to achieve calculated and sustained growth. On the other hand, a financial portfolio mismanaged, perhaps due to a lack of expertise, can result in a downward spiral.

3. He/she should know how much money to keep in the company, and when to spend the funds for growth and expansion. When the picture isn’t so positive, he/she should offer viable solutions to stress points and resolve financial pressures.

4. He/she should be mitigating your risks by managing the financial integrity, health, and stability of your business in an independent, unbiased fashion. By outsourcing this to an expert, you can spend time on the tasks you actually like. And isn’t that why you went into business in the first place?

5. Being dedicated to the accounting industry, your CPA should be up-to-date on new regulatory issues (and can show you their CPE to prove it!), thereby providing compliance guidance on matters you may not even know about, let alone know how to tackle.

Hiring a CPA is an invaluable investment in the long term viability, success, and profitability of your business. And hiring the right CPA is every bit as important as hiring any other member of your team. Make sure you’re working with one who provides expert financial management services throughout the entire year, and one that is a perfect fit for your company – because no one wants to be a statistic.


4/07/2017 | Zinman & Company

The last ten years have brought significant changes to the accounting industry, with new technologies being the driving force. Technological advancements have automated many of the more perfunctory tasks that accountants once performed manually, freeing up their time to serve as trusted business advisors, effectively and efficiently analyzing data to provide business and consulting services – in real time. Arguably the most impactful of all the technological advancements is the advent of SaaS and cloud computing. And its impact is far reaching, permeating nearly every industry.

So what is SaaS, and is it the same thing as cloud computing?

SaaS (software as a service) is a software application that is not installed on premise; it does not run on your local hard drive nor on your office servers. Instead, it runs and is maintained in a vendor’s off site data center. Instead of buying a license to use/access the application, you “rent” use of the software monthly or annually. You access it by logging into a website, perhaps through a shortcut on your desktop. SaaS applications run in the cloud, but they are not the cloud itself.

So what is the cloud? It’s a means of accessing and storing data, programs, and applications over the internet instead of your hard drive or local server. Why give up local servers in favor of cloud computing; what are some of the benefits? First, data can be accessed from anywhere there is an internet connection, enabling more streamlined collaboration and flexible staffing. Second, while your local server may crash, most cloud service providers guarantee 99.99% uptime. Third, it is scalable, so you’re not paying for storage capacity you don’t use or need.

SaaS and cloud computing changes the whole dynamic of business services, both from a people perspective and an equipment perspective:

People Perspective:
• Externally, gone are the days when small to mid-sized business owners can only collaborate with other businesses (such as accounting firms) who are local to them, because data now can be shared swiftly and securely from anywhere in the world, breaking down geographic barriers.
• Internally, gone is the need for the employees of many businesses (including accounting firms), to work in any specific office, city, or state.

Equipment Perspective:
• The need to install and upgrade software locally; plus to purchase, maintain, and eventually replace expensive hardware, has ended. And not just expensive servers that must be replaced every five years but also the workstations themselves.
• Case in point: a business owner can purchase a Chromebook (basically turning Google Chrome from a web browser into an operating system) instead of a desktop or laptop for each employee, costing only a couple hundred dollars each, instead of thousands.

If you are interested in saving money while increasing efficiencies, please contact Mark Zinman, CITP, to learn what options are available – and if SaaS and cloud computing would benefit your company!


3/24/2017 | Zinman & Company

If you find tax season stressful, you are not alone. Many consider the top causes of stress to include: lack of time, lack of money, health issues, and being overburdened. Small to mid-sized business owners face those same stresses plus we can add lack of control to the list.

Tax season stresses fall into literally every category including physical and psychological health issues. According to the American Psychological Association, “an extreme amount of stress can have health consequences and adversely affect the immune, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and central nervous systems.” Chronic stress can result in anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, heart disease, depression, and obesity.

The question is: why does tax season bring on so much stress? For many, the answer falls into the following five categories:

1. Understanding how to manage the financials of your business, including containing costs, increasing revenue, maximizing profits, managing cash flow and allocation of resources – is a very stressful burden placed squarely on the shoulders of the small to mid-sized business owner. The payoff for shouldering the burden can be substantial, but so can the stress. Arguably the biggest source of stress is not fully understanding your current financial picture. Therefore, we recommend that regardless of whether it’s good news or bad, you maintain open and frequent communication with your accountant, so that you always know what your picture looks like in real time – not just historically.

2. And, especially if the news is bad, there are two times in particular that a business owner faces his/her comeuppance: end of fiscal year and tax season. During these times, the reality of your business management practices, and their positive or negative consequences, are at the forefront. Such times of evaluation brings heightened self-awareness – plus the stress and anxiety that goes along with it.

3. Taxes are complicated and there’s a lot of paperwork involved. It’s important to stay organized so that if the IRS requests additional documentation/information, your accountant can swiftly and accurately provide it. Turn to tech and Project Management Software for help organizing paperwork, electronically storing receipts, etc. Why? Because disorganization causes stress. According to Psychology Today, it signals our brains that our work is not done and makes us anxious with feelings of guilt and even embarrassment.

4. The fear of an audit is real. Audits can intimidate even the most confident business owners. Yet the audit process is often misunderstood and does not have to be scary. If your taxes were processed by a competent professional, you have little reason to worry. Your accountant will have not only decreased your chances of an audit by minimizing potential mistakes and audit flags, but also he/she will help de-mystify the audit process by setting expectations and making sure that adequate preparation has been done.

5. If you are savvy enough to recognize that you don’t fully understand tax laws – what applies to your business and what does not, what credits or deductions you may qualify for – and so you turn to a tax professional for help, you may perceive it as giving up some control of your business to an independent third party. And as previously noted, lack of control stresses the body. The Indiana University Kelley School of Business conducted a study, analyzing 2,363 people over the course of seven years. They found that study participants in high stress jobs who felt a lack of control were 15.4% less healthy than their counterparts. We encourage you to think of the process as gaining control of your accounting and tax portfolio, not losing control.

So while tax season stresses can be stifling, your accounting professional is trained and experienced to take some of the burden off your shoulders and provide the expert service that you deserve, lowering your stress and maximizing your business’ potential.

Please contact Mark Zinman, CPA, with any questions or comments at 215-357-2250 or mzinman@thecpa.com.


cybersecurity3/17/2017 | Zinman & Company

Information Technology (IT) is an important factor contributing to business success, as it increases flexibility, efficiency, and productivity. Yet small businesses are common targets for hackers and are vulnerable to cybersecurity threats because criminals (often rightly so) assume that there may be few security controls in place. Therefore we encourage our clients to follow some basic protocols to help keep their data secure:

Training: Establish security policies for your workforce to follow, including Internet use guidelines. Train employees to understand the dangers of visiting unsafe websites, how to recognize phishing emails, and why they should not open an attachment or click on a link that is questionable or unexpected.

Protection: A firewall prevents outsiders from accessing data on your private network. Make sure your operating system’s firewall is enabled and properly configured. Anti-virus software should be installed with patches/updates kept up to date (scan after each update). Using the latest web browsers and operating systems helps defend against viruses, malware, and other threats. Beyond that, only select employees should be able to install software.

Passwords: Each user should have unique credentials (user name, password), which they are required to change/refresh every quarter. Require passwords that contain a combination of numbers, letters, and characters. Discourage employees from using the same password for multiple sites and systems.

Wifi: Have both a public and a private wi-fi network. The private network should be secure and encrypted. Hide your private network so that the network name (SSID) is not broadcast.

Need to Know: Be stingy when it comes to assigning administrative privileges. While it’s easiest to just “let everyone have access to everything,” enable restrictions that limits data access only to those employees who have a legitimate need for the data type/system.

Restrict Access: Prevent computers from being used by unauthorized individuals. Laptops and mobile devices are particularly vulnerable to theft, and should be secured (locked up) when not in use.

Suppliers & Vendors: Establish (and enforce) security policies for suppliers and vendors who have access to your company data. Meanwhile, when employees access company accounts (bank accounts, credit card accounts) on line, the most redundant and stringent security protocols should be enabled (multi-factor authentication).

Test & Back up: Test your systems and regularly back up your data. Audit your backups to make sure the data is not compromised. Securely store backups off site or in the cloud.

Don’t forget: these basic protocols apply to all devices: desktops, laptops, tablets, smart phones. Mobile devices, in particular, are often overlooked, and therefore are often a hacker’s go-to access point.

Please contact Mark Zinman, CITP, with any questions or comments at 215-357-2250 or mzinman@thecpa.com.