Golden Business Ideas

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

Avoid IT Mistakes
The role of the computer in business continues to grow—for accounting, operating Web sites, running a manufacturing operation or handling an organization’s communications. But who makes the computer decisions in your organization—business managers or information technology (IT) staff?

If your answer is the IT department, you’ve probably written off some big mistakes and lost opportunities; and if your answer is the business managers, the mistakes and lost opportunities may be different, but they’re just as costly.

It’s unlikely your IT managers have in-depth business knowledge, so they probably lack a comprehensive view of how the hardware and software will be used. Likewise, your business managers probably are not particularly computer savvy, so they are unable to decide, for example, the best type of software or when to upgrade the server.

As obvious as that sounds, it’s surprising how often the business side hands over all responsibility to the IT people because it feels intimidated by the complexity of technology. Part of these feelings of intimidation arise from IT’s impatience in explaining the necessary information. And IT often is lured by leading-edge technology into making the wrong purchasing decisions.

The right answer, as you’ve no doubt guessed, is that both IT and business management must be involved in all computer decisions. Holding them both accountable is the best way to ensure their mutual needs are met.

Set the Right Price
Pricing a product is as much art as accounting. It often takes in-depth market research to come up with a price that is not so high it turns off customers. Yet you may be surprised to discover that customers are willing to pay more than your stated list price. Here are some signs that show you probably can raise prices without fear of losing customers:

Customers stockpile your products as if expecting prices to increase.
When inquiring about a product, customers ask whether the last price list is still current.
Profits slip while sales volume is stable or even rises.
Sales volume increases faster than the industry average without a corresponding boost in profits.

Signs of a Great Manager
It goes without saying that good managers make a commitment to the development of their staff. But what is less recognized is that they also don’t let star performers outshine supportive teamwork. After all, stars can’t stand out without underpinning “grunt” work.

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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