Golden Business Ideas


Web Sites: First In, First Out

When it comes to starting a Web site, note well the outcome of that famous race between the hare and the tortoise.

The story may have become a clich, but stories and expressions become clichs when they are true. Many Web site start-ups were perfect examples of a race that was definitely not to the swift, and many defunct Web sites can testify to that.

Probably the biggest error made by many of the Web sites that popped up on the Internet during the last few years was their haste to be there first. Many of those who got there first were also the first to go bust.

Their mistake: They failed to take the time to find out what the customer wanted, needed and was willing to pay for. Internet entrepreneurs interviewed themselves instead of potential customers via surveys and focus groups.

Banker Psychology

It may be hubris on their part, but bankers who deal in business loans say they make a significant part of their loan decisions based on their assessment of the people in the company rather than its financials . So if you and your company are seeking a loan, you can use that insight to improve your chances of getting it.

Here’s how: Don’t just rely on financial reports. Give equal weight to listing the strengths of your management, production and marketing teams. Demonstrate what these teams can accomplish with adequate financial resources.

How to Deal With a Price Increase

With the exception of death, everything is negotiable—including threatened price increases. Here’s what to do when your supplier gives you a price-rise notice:

Negotiate its effective date; often a supplier will be flexible with a good customer.

Accept the increase, but ask that it be done in steps, over time.

Why They Don't Ask for Help

You know who they are. They’re the ones who never ask for help—even when it’s clear they’re stumbling. They’re the same ones who never ask questions or request a clarification after you give them instructions for a project. And, yes, they’re also the ones who tend to mess up more than anyone else.

So what’s happening here?

What’s probably going on is that they’ve likely received so much criticism in the past that they just don’t want to risk any more—even though each time they mess up because they don’t ask it simply reinforces your negative assessment of them.

Sure, it doesn’t make sense—which is why it’s a problem.

So what can you do? And indeed the solution is in your hands. Try this: Instead of waiting (in vain) for them to ask for help, go to them. Don’t mention their personal failings. Instead, ask them questions about how they tackle their responsibilities. Don’t make it a quiz; structure it more like a discussion. Along the way, suggest options and improvements. Be sure to follow up later to see whether and how they’ve implemented the suggestions.

An Invitation

The JofA publishes a monthly collection of Golden Business Ideas and invites readers to contribute their favorites (for attribution, if you like).

Send your ideas to Senior Editor Stanley Zarowin via either e-mail ( zarowin@mindspring.com ) or regular mail at the Journal of Accountancy, Harborside Financial Center, 201 Plaza Three, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881.

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