Golden Business Ideas

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

Watch for Bad-Debt Warning Signs
Use caution when extending additional credit to a customer if you see these red flags:

A sudden increase in orders. It could mean the customer lost credit with another supplier and is ordering more from you to fill the gap.

Payments that become increasingly slow—showing possible cash-flow problems.

Complaints about shipped orders that appear to be groundless. The customer may be looking for ways to stall invoice payments.

Make Better Use of Older Workers
How do you rekindle the enthusiasm and tap the intelligence of some of your more senior employees who are nearing retirement?

These are the staff members who know the ins and outs of the organization and its strengths and weaknesses; they know where to get help on a project and how to overcome obstacles.

One solution: Ask them to team with newer employees on various projects so the seniors can share their expertise.

Another suggestion: Assign veteran employees to mentor new staff. Recent hires will benefit from their knowledge, and your more experienced staff can add another item to their list of accomplishments.

Result: Everyone gains.

Overcome Embarrassment
It happens to everyone at one time or another: You find yourself in an embarrassing situation in a social setting. Here are some strategies for, if not extricating yourself from the tough spot, minimizing the discomfit:

Forgetting a name. Instead of trying to avoid the issue as you’re making an introduction, face up to it and point out your connection with the person—a mutual friend or the committee you both serve on. And then say something like: “And she is….” That will give the person the hint you’re fumbling for his or her name and it probably will be provided.

Being over- or underdressed. Just say, “I guess I misunderstood the dress code.” Then leave it at that; further explanations will only draw people’s attention.

Arriving late. Unless the reason is humorous or particularly interesting, just say you’re glad you finally made it. No one wants to hear a feeble excuse.

Responding to offensive behavior at a social gathering. First of all, don’t retaliate; it just escalates the situation. Stay cool—to avoid saying something you’ll later regret. Instead say something such as, “I expect you didn’t mean that” and move on.

Bottom line: Observers take notice of someone’s embarrassment far less than the victim does. So the less you say and do, the faster the situation fades from their memories.

STANLEY ZAROWIN, a former JofA senior editor, now is 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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