Golden Business Ideas

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

The Right Way to Use PowerPoint
Do you use PowerPoint, the Microsoft presentation software, to make sales pitches for new clients? Or do you use it, as a consultant would, to lay out in-depth analyses in an effort to convince a client or your boss to adjust complex business strategies?

If you use it for the former task—as a persuasion tool to highlight major talking points—then you’re using it to its best advantage. Its illustrated slides are short and pithy, and they are effective in highlighting information in a presentation.

But if you want to use it as a vehicle to provide detailed and complex analyses, you may not be using the right tool. PowerPoint slides, by their very nature, hold only a handful of words. While those words can be dramatically displayed with brief, cartoonlike illustrations and diagrams, there simply isn’t enough space in each slide to provide more than talking points.

For one author’s view of “slideware” programs, see The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint ( www.edwardtufte.com ) by Edward R. Tufte, professor emeritus of political science, computer science, statistics and graphic design at Yale University, who is considered one of the leading theorists of information presentation.

Bankruptcy Wisdom
When a customer files for bankruptcy relief and the court notice lists no assets, you should still file a proof of claim that includes all the amounts the customer owes your organization.

Reason: Sometimes assets are discovered later, and that puts you in line for some reimbursement. Also, don’t hesitate to obtain all the financial information filed with the bankruptcy court and compare it with the information the customer provided you when you extended it credit. If there is a discrepancy between the two, the court may not discharge the debt and you can continue your claim after the company completes the bankruptcy process.

Better Cash Management
Correct some cash-management mistakes small businesses make and produce considerable savings. Have such clients

Rank accounts-payable by age. Doing so helps to avoid late payments to vendors and subsequent penalties. Plus, your client could get prompt-payment discounts.

Monitor accounts-receivable by age. Tell customers about prompt-payment discounts to improve cash flow.

Abide by credit-setting guidelines. Failure to do so usually comes from a fear of losing a good customer. But how valuable is a customer who is in debt?

Reconcile checking accounts every month. If the bookkeeper complains it’s too time-consuming, suggest the company consider buying accounting software. If the company is your client, it can strengthen your relationship; if it is your employer, it can help put the business on a firmer financial footing.

Pay bills electronically. Not only will it be easier to keep a checkbook balanced, but it will save on postage.

Make cash-needs forecasts at least six months out. It will provide needed guidance on income targets and gives clients time to arrange a line of credit if needed.

STANLEY ZAROWIN, a former JofA senior editor, is now a contributing editor to the magazine. His e-mail address is zarowin@mindspring.com .

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 contributing editor Stanley Zarowin via e-mail at 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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