Strategic Planning for a Small Business – Overcome the Challenges

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WHY PLAN?

Things are ok. But how do you know you are thinking BIG enough? Are you leveraging the strengths, interests and talents on your team? Will you wind up in a place that will make you happy? What exactly is the best game plan? It is not that you haven’t been thinking about these questions. The business environment is complex and the choices are daunting. How do you answer the hard questions?

For the same reasons that pilots use maps when they fly cross-country and chefs follow recipes, it makes good sense to work towards organizational and personal goals with a written plan. One can operate without a plan, and many do, but the results probably won’t be optimal.

A strategic thinking and planning process can help to create a framework where you take control of the business, instead of sitting back and watching the business taking control of you. For many, the process of planning (thinking, discussing, researching and analyzing) is even more useful than the final plan. A planning process can help to sharpen a vision, evaluate alternative paths, build common understanding and commitment, balance dreams with reality, and transform uncertainty into action.

SOUNDS GOOD BUT MOST SMALL BUSINESSES DON’T PLAN

Although there is a lot of research correlating success with planning, it probably won’t surprise you that the majority of small businesses don’t have a written strategic plan. The reasons why are varied but some common themes include: “It’s not the best use of my/our limited time”, “planning takes away flexibility”, “there are too many uncertainties”, “we have a business plan”, “building consensus is too difficult”, and “it will cost too much”.

These are all real concerns, especially to the small business owner. The dichotomy is that the very reasons why organizations avoid planning are the same reasons that planning can be so effective. Let’s take a look….

TIME- “We are so overwhelmed – hiring, making sure our customers are happy, getting new products out – we just don’t have time to think about next week, forget about next year. Somehow, the future will just have to take care of itself.”
Thinking versus action provides a dilemma for many professionals. We are action oriented. When we are doing something, we feel productive. When we take the time to think, we feel unproductive. We need to do both. Without investing the time and effort to think about where we’re headed, it is likely we won’t get there.

When we become so involved in the day to day that we risk losing perspective, it is time to step back. If we stay mired in the trenches, the easiest solution is often implemented, not the best one. Planning takes time, but it leads to a focused use of the limited time available.

FLEXIBILITY- “We like to stay open to opportunities as they arise.”

Creating a strategic plan doesn’t mean that your business can’t be flexible. A plan sets the foundation so that when things start changing; there is a baseline from which to evaluate new opportunities.

Out of strategic planning come decisions like: “we will approach this target market, not that one”, “we will offer these products or services, not those”, “we will accomplish this objective before anything else.” Written plans demonstrate that careful consideration has been given to the future. It is easier to make these kinds of decisions strategically with a longer-term view. When things get stressful, it becomes difficult to see all of the options well enough to make educated decisions.

“We have a basic idea of where we are headed, why write it down?”

Unwritten goals are simply thoughts that will change as often as your opinions change. The act of writing out goals helps to clarify them and can provide an objective way of tracking them against actual results. Magic happens when you put goals on paper, they start to become real. You begin to make commitments, and are open to opportunities you may not have noticed before.

UNCERTAINTY- “Strategic planning is a business school concept developed when people thought they could anticipate and predict the future. How can we plan in a world that is highly uncertain?”

Uncertainty is a real issue in forward planning. However, putting our heads in the sand probably isn’t the best solution. Most organizations have their strategies, structure, and service offering challenged on a regular basis. To remain successful it is vital to ask the following strategic questions on a regular basis:

Where are we now? Where are we going? How are we going to get there?

Strategic planning helps a business evaluate market opportunities. To do this effectively, the process includes collecting and analyzing information about the business environment, understanding internal strengths, and developing a set of ‘key assumptions’. Optimal strategies are designed based on all of these factors. As the environment changes, so should our plans. One way to assess whether it is time to conduct a new strategic planning process is to check your list of ‘key assumptions’ on an annual basis to see if anything has changed.

I HAVE A PLAN- “I wrote a business plan when I started the business”

The act of strategic planning is often confused with a business plan. Business plans are usually drafted to obtain financing, then wind up filed away. The strategic planning process is an activity that is conducted every few years to evaluate opportunities, wrestle with environmental changes, build consensus, and to create updated goals. The output (a strategic plan) is a short working document that defines the positioning and future of the organization, with an action plan to get from here to there.

ORGANIZATION DYNAMICS- “I could never get everyone to agree on the best way to move forward. Anyway, shouldn’t it be my vision?”

An effective planning process will help to get people talking, and ensure that the business owner/CEO benefits from the ideas of his/her team. A good process is designed to build confidence, support and commitment among all involved. Even if only a limited group is included in the process, the completion of a strategic plan provides a great opportunity to communicate the company’s direction and core values to employees.

The use of an outside facilitator can greatly enhance the effectiveness of a planning process and keep the process on track. There is often a strong tendency of those participating to focus the discussions on today’s problems. An outside facilitator can help to broaden thinking and make sure that new ideas and directions are generated.

COST- “We don’t have a budget for planning.”

With all the activities that make up running a business, setting priorities in the context of a plan is important. Without a plan, the limited resources of a growing business will tend to be scattered in many directions, netting results that take longer and cost more.

What are your personal priorities? Is profitability, work/life balance, a motivated staff, or public recognition on your list? What are the personal benefits of achieving your goals? What are the consequences if you don’t?

If you are serious about your business, it is time to overcome the challenges to planning and start to soar. Don’t hesitate to enlist help. Stop thinking about a better future, TAKE ACTION!

We provide part-time virtual and onsite QuickBooks Training, Accounting, Cost Accounting, Controller and CFO Services to small and medium sized businesses.

Ask us for help – this is what we do.

Visit our website www.desmidtconsulting.com

Visit our mobile website www.desmidtconsulting.mobi

Contact us www.desmidtconsulting.com/contactus.html

813-252-9490

Thank you,

Peter DeSmidt, BA, MBA, PA

QuickBooks Certified Advanced ProAdvisor

Microsoft Certified Accounting Application Specialist

Microsoft Certified Installation Specialist

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The Objectives of Cost Accounting

By Sheila Shanker

Cost accounting is used internally by many companies, especially manufacturing firms. The concepts regarding cost accounting are not mandated or regulated, and it’s up to each business to follow their own cost ideas. However, there are industry standards to guide firms in best practices and proven ideas to costing items, so that some form of standardization exists in cost accounting.

The main objectives of cost accounting are:

Identification of costs and profitability — ­­­­­­­­­ The identification of costs can be tricky, since a company may manufacture different types of items, using a variety of materials, labor and overhead. Computerized programs have helped a lot in this area because of their ability to accumulate large amounts of data and report on it. These systems may interface with time sheet programs, and regular financial accounting software, creating an effective “Enterprise Resource Planning” (ERP) setup, where information is identified and properly classified.

Once all costs are identified, the next step is to price the items properly for profitability. If an item cost $15 to manufacture, then the price should be more than $15 in order to generate profits.

Cost Control — When costs can be identified, they can be evaluated. Resources can be used more efficiently and effectively. For example, if a certain material was bought a few months ago and used on one manufacture run only, it’s possible that the leftovers can be used on another product.

Cost controls also involve identifying errors and problems in the manufacturing process, which could point to the need to get a new machine or to train employees better. Maybe a certain machine is using up too much power, and the usage of solar power may be an option to lower the overall costs of production.

Tool for management decisions — Managers use cost accounting reports to help them in making sound decisions for their employers. Computerized systems allow for managers to have detailed reports by simply pressing a button, facilitating good, prompt decisions. If a product becomes too expensive to manufacture for what it can be sold, the production process can be halted, minimizing losses for the company.

Cost accounting reports may include “what if” functions, which may provide managers with alternatives. For example, management may be considering producing a new widget. Based on the data on the system, what could be the costs of such a widget? Will it be worthwhile to build it? Cost accounting can be very flexible to help management in leading the company.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Sheila_Shanker

We provide virtual and onsite Accounting, Cost Accounting, Controller and CFO Services to small and medium sized businesses.

Ask us for help – this is what we do.

Visit our website www.desmidtconsulting.com

Visit our mobile website www.desmidtconsulting.mobi

Contact us www.desmidtconsulting.com/contactus.html

813-252-9490

Thank you,

Peter DeSmidt, BA, MBA, PA

QuickBooks Certified Advanced ProAdvisor

Microsoft Certified Accounting Application Specialist

Microsoft Certified Installation Specialist

Know More About QuickBooks Cloud Hosting

By Tina S Smith

QuickBooks Cloud Hosting brings the supremacy of “cloud computing” down to earth, giving clients a simple, protected data access to their QuickBooks data and workflows wherever and whenever there is a requirement. There are many advantages of using QuickBooks Hosting but the major advantage is that it requires no installation, no maintenance, no training, no new equipment, no IT capital investment, or even a long-term commitment. Other than this, it consists of setup support and automatic upgrades! And if user’s changes their mind later, then the hosting software and data can go right back to user’s desktop because it belongs to them.

QuickBooks Hosting Service takes away the fear of a computer crashing and system failure when users need to access their data from anywhere and anytime. Many organization individuals and businesses may decide to use QuickBooks Hosting, as it can provide the benefits of a short setup time-frame for new software and also decrease overall costs.

QuickBooks works on the server and all users business files are in one place. Multiple users can then utilize QuickBooks at the same time and access their company file from anywhere and anytime, from any Corner of the world with the help of Internet.

With Quickbooks, the users can get the preferred version and edition of Quickbooks Hosted on cloud. With QuickBooks any data from the existing desktop applications can be easily transferred to the remote hosted server.

Features of Quickbooks Cloud Hosting:

Quickbooks Cloud Hosting includes features as follows:

  • It is a dedicated hosting for secure usage of the data of the user.
  • It provides secure setup on terminal servers.
  • It provides complete data backup and promised disaster recovery.
  • It provides hassle-free working environment to work from anywhere, anytime 24/7.
  • It provides automatic upgrades of the QuickBooks software from hosting providers.
  • It provides better management even with on-the-go activities.

QuickBooks services facilitate users to run almost any edition/version of QuickBooks on it’s high speed terminals servers. This sound great, instead of installing different QuickBooks software on users local desktops, all of them can be run by hosted quickbooks cloud services.

Major Concern:

QuickBooks Cloud Hosting needs the following conditions to be met before it can permit access to company data files:

  • Windows File permissions: The client who is logged in should have permissions set to Full control, which consists of permission to look at, open, and modify the data file.
  • Database Server mode: The database server can successfully open the company data file.
  • QuickBooks User login: Each client must have a QuickBooks user login and password.

Once these above mentioned requirements are met, clients can access the company data files easily.

QuickBooks hosting is a service offered by application hosting providers to the CPAs, accounting and bookkeeping professionals. Hosted QuickBooks servers have many benefits over traditional QuickBooks usage. Not only it offers all the features of desktop versions but also adds many other advantages. So, all your associated data, software, tools are always available to you, whenever you need or wherever you are. SageNext is the most cost effective QuickBooks hosting provider by offering an excellent service.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Tina_S_Smith

We provide part-time virtual and onsite QuickBooks Training, Accounting, Cost Accounting, Controller and CFO Services to small and medium sized businesses.

Ask us for help – this is what we do.

Visit our website www.desmidtconsulting.com

Visit our mobile website www.desmidtconsulting.mobi

Contact us www.desmidtconsulting.com/contactus.html

813-938-3608

Thank you,

Peter DeSmidt, BA, MBA, PA

QuickBooks Certified Advanced ProAdvisor

Microsoft Certified Accounting Application Specialist

Microsoft Certified Installation Specialist

Online Accounting Services For Advantageous Virtual Accounting Management

By Akash Patel

Accounting management is a vast pond containing many creatures underneath the surface. Establishment of the accounting department in the organization is not a game of 50 cents however accounting management is the primary needs of every organization. Settlement of the finance in the organization and using it periodically as per the need is the most critical job. A firm therefore always prefers to hire accountants in order to manage with the accounts of the organization.

It is not necessary that you can accomplish the dream of accountants only by hiring other accounting services provider firm but you can also build your in-house accounting management team. But while you are supporting the in-house accounting team there would be more expenditures compared to, while you outsource your accounting data to other firms. With the accounting department you cannot compromise with the resources, staffs and few other constraints.

Role of Accountancy in Organization:

While you are in an organization and doing business then, it becomes necessary to invest the capital. However just investing the capital is not enough but it needs to be managed periodically. It is important to note the various expenditures that take place regularly externally as well as internally in the organization. These day to day transactions help in regulating the budget of the organization. Without managing the budget, organization’s financial status cannot be determined.

Apart from all, in an organization the employees should be managed well. Their payroll should be generated on time accurately so that the employees can be satisfied. The leaves, shift timings and other constraints should be determined well. All these things are managed by the accountants in the organization. While you hire accountants from other organizations, you get the opportunity to get the services for 24 hours. Even you can get the services online. Online accounting services are specialized to offer consultation services as per the need arises.

Benefits of Online Accounting Services:

It is always good to hear that you are getting the consultation services sitting at your place. Technology has crossed the limits. There are many advantages while you are consulted by the online accounting services like:

* Save 3: Time, Space & Money!

While you are opting for the online accounting services you need not to spend unnecessarily behind the resources. The company that you have hired will spend the whole when it would be needed. You need not to arrange anything for the department and that too you will be able to get the best service while needed.

* Priority would be on Main Business:

While you are outsourcing your accounting projects and getting online accounting services, you need not to spend your precious time behind this crucial sector. All the complexities lie in the accounting department, which will be easily sorted out.

* Expertise Services for your Projects:

While you are getting the consultation through online accounting services, you can always expect an error free and accurate accounting management. All the experts will indulge their knowledge working in this sector. So, your organization would get the best possible services.

These benefits come prior while you support online accounting services. Get the best accounting for your organization by hiring the best accounting services provider firm.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Akash_Patel

We provide part-time virtual and onsite Accounting, Cost Accounting, Controller and CFO Services to small and medium sized businesses.

Ask us for help – this is what we do.

Visit our website www.desmidtconsulting.com

Visit our mobile website www.desmidtconsulting.mobi

Contact us www.desmidtconsulting.com/contactus.html

813-938-3608

Thank you,

Peter DeSmidt, BA, MBA, PA

QuickBooks Certified Advanced ProAdvisor

Microsoft Certified Accounting Application Specialist

Microsoft Certified Installation Specialist