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Today's Feature Article
Picking A Small Business Accounting Program
Stephen L. Nelson, CPA
A small business accounting program should accomplish three
tasks: track income and expenses, generate business forms, and
keep detailed records for other assets and liabilities.
Tracking Income and Expenses
The task of tracking a business’s income and expense is really
the most important job of an accounting system. If you own or
manage a small business, obviously, you need some tool for
measuring your income and your cash flow.
Although checkbook programs like Quicken and Microsoft Money
does little more than keep a checkbook, you can actually keep
financial records for a business right out of a checkbook. To do
this, you simply categorize deposits as falling into some income
category. And when you write a check or make some other
withdrawal, you categorize expenses as falling into some expense category.
One problem with using a checkbook program, however, is that by
using a checkbook program, you are implicitly using cash-basis
accounting to track your income and expenses. Cash-basis
accounting counts income when you receive a deposit and counts
expense when you write a check.
Cash-basis accounting is easy to understand, and that means you
are less likely to make errors in implementing it. However, cash-
basis accounting is generally too imprecise for more complicated
businesses. If you use inventory in your business, for example,
cash-basis accounting isn’t very accurate—and the Internal
Revenue Service does not allow it.
And there are other circumstances, too, in which cash-basis
accounting produces serious and usually unacceptable errors in
precision. For example, if you often receive money before you
have actually earned it or if you often incur expenses long
before you actually have to pay for them, you need to use a more
sophisticated accounting program than a checkbook program.
Generating Business Forms
The second task that a small business accounting program should
help you with is the generation of business forms. The most
common business form is simply a check. Any checkbook program
help you do this. Other business forms that small businesses
commonly need to produce include invoices, credit memos, monthly
statements, purchase orders, and so forth.
If you have a small business with very simple form
requirements—perhaps you need only checks—then a checkbook
program may work very well for you.
However, if you have extensive or complicated business form
generation requirements, a more full-featured small business
accounting package, such as Intuit’s QuickBooks, Peachtree’s
Complete Accounting, or Microsoft Small Business Accounting will
do a better job for you.
If you produce more complicated forms, but you produce these
other forms with a word processing program, then a checkbook
program may still work for you.
Detailed Record Keeping for Other Assets and Liabilities
The third task that a small business accounting program should
help you with is detailed record keeping of your most important
assets and liabilities. A checkbook program lets you keep good
detailed records of cash, and for some businesses that is the
principal asset. But many small businesses have other
significant assets and liabilities they need to track, for
example, accounts receivables, inventory, and vendor payables.
Whether or not a particular software program’s accounting tools
provide adequate asset and liability record keeping depends on
the situation. However, no small business accounting program
does everything you need it to do. Any accounting program that
provides an extensive list of features, by its very nature,
becomes a challenge to use. For example, moving to the accrual
basis of accounting adds an entire layer of complexity to
financial record keeping, and keeping detailed records of
inventory adds another layer.
For these reasons, even when a particular program doesn’t do
everything you need it to do, your best choice still may be to
use the program—and then simply live with its shortcomings.
Stephen L. Nelson provides tax preparation, accounting,
QuickBooks help and business consulting services in Redmond, WA.
Click here to check Stephen's Books!
Today's Motivational Reading
How Memory REALLY Works
Dr Jill Ammon-Wexler
Memory is the ability to retain and to recall personal
experiences, information, and various skills and habits. But
although memory is easy to define there's little agreement
among researchers about how memory really works.
Harvard psychology professor Dr. Daniel Schacter believes that
the process of remembering involves three important aspects:
The Part Played by Emotions
Many researchers have observed that the more traumatic or
emotion-packed an experience, the more likely you'll remember
it. Your memories are encoded into actual physical neural
connections in several parts of your brain. The more powerful
the images accompanying an event, the more your brain is
stimulated, and more likely it will become one of your long-term
As recent as 1996, a survey revealed that 84 percent of
psychotherapists and psychologists were convinced that all of
the details of every experience a person undergoes throughout
his or her life is permanently stored in the mind.
However many current studies suggest that this is only partially
true. Recent memory research indicates that every bit of sensory
data experienced by an individual throughout the course of their
normal day-today life is NOT retained by the brain, or is not
able to be recalled.
The evidence is that memories are stored as fragments of an
experience, and that these are actually encoded within your
brain's neural network.
The process of memory then involves a conscious act of
'uploading' a significant or emotional event, and the event is
then recalled as an episodic montage or collage of images,
rather than as a complete and accurate recall of your actual
past sensory data.
Why Some Memories are More Permanent
Long-term memory requires an extensive encoding by your
hypothalamus and subsequent storage in your brain's temporal
lobes. Most potential memories are lost in less than a minute
because they were never successfully encoded. We simply tend to
remember things that are important to us, or are packed with
Lasting encoding depends on your individual interests,
perception, and needs. Thinking and talking about an experience
at the time it occurred also seems to assist in more easily
Can Memories be Changed?
It's a mistake to believe that once your brain has recorded a
memory, it remains forever fixed.
According to research conducted at New York University by Drs.
Karim Nader and Glenn Shafe, every time a memory is consciously
recalled, your brain reassembles it, updates it, and makes new
proteins before placing the memory back in long-term storage.
This changes and strengthens the neural network the memory is
This provides a neurobiological explanation of how your memories
may be updated, or even re-created.
Some studies show we often create a memory after the fact and
are susceptible to suggestions from others as to the 'truth' of
what actually occurred.
This can create false memories which we believe happened to us
when actually the 'remembered' events never occurred.
The ease with which false memories can occur was demonstrated in
a 2001 study by University of Washington memory researchers
Jacquie E. Pickrell and Dr. Elizabeth F. Loftus. About one-third
of the 120 subjects in a study who were exposed to a fake
advertisement showing Bugs Bunny at Disneyland later said they
'remembered' meeting Bugs when they visited Disneyland, and had
even shaken his hand.
This could never have occurred because the cartoon character
Bugs Bunny is owned by Warner Brothers, and would therefore
never be seen at Disneyland walking around with Mickey Mouse and
This study suggests we might also create many 'false'
autobiographical memories based on nostalgic advertising, films,
A 1998 report by the British Royal College of Psychiatrists
accused its own members of having damaged patients' lives by
implanting false memories as they delved into their childhood
events. According to the report, nearly 1,000 parents claimed
they had been falsely accused of sexual abuse after their adult
children allegedly recovered such memories during suggestive
The mind can play some funny tricks. Closely related to false
memories is 'source amnesia', in which we accurately recall an
event but forget the source of the memory.
We may recall the details of a terrible storm our grandmother
told us of as a young child, then later actually recall the
story as one of own memories as if it had actually happened to us.
And today's children seeing realistic dramatic portrayals of
hardships or disasters in theaters or on their television
screens may later remember these images as their own memories
of enduring difficult times or violent acts.
The Exciting Conclusion
From all this we can conclude several things: First, memories
may not be reliable depictions of what happened, and second, if
we recall them and place new emotional material on them, we can
actually change the memory in our brain's neural networks. Now
that's interesting and empowering!
The Quantum Brain Gym is the first online brain gym to offer
professional brainwave training right on your computer.
Today's Subscriber Article
Top Nine Essential "Hot-Selling Points" To Pre-Market your Book
for Big Sales
Every part of your book can be a sales tool. When you include
the below tips, you will have a roadmap to follow to keep your
writing organized and compelling, and you'll sell more books
than you ever dreamed of!
1. Write for your one preferred audience. Not everyone wants
your book. Find out what audience wants/needs your book? What
problems does your book solve for them? Create an audience
profile and keep your audience's picture in front of you as you
write. Ask yourself, is my topic narrow enough? The Chicken Soup
For The Teenager, For The Prisoner, and other specific groups
sold far more copies than the original Chicken Soup. To start,
write a short letter to your audience telling them why you wrote
the book and what it will do for them. This letter becomes part
of your book's introduction.
2. Write a sizzling book title. Make it short and clever to sell
best. Long titles are hard to remember. Your title must compel
your audience to buy. You want your book's title on everyone's
lips. Those people become your 24/7 sales team because they are
so impressed. Today people want short titles, short chapters
because they don't have a lot of time to read. This is the
number one "Essential Hot-Selling Point" as laid out in Chapter
Three of the Write your eBook or Other Short Book Fast book.
3. Write your book's thesis if it is non-fiction. Write your
book's theme if it is fiction. Your thesis usually makes a
judgment and tells your book's number one benefit. Or answers
the number one question or solves the number one problem your
readers have about your topic. Sometimes your title is your
thesis--the best of all worlds. If fiction, you need to know
your theme before you finish your book. It also is expressed in
a sentence and makes a judgment. Perhaps your message is one of
a general human condition. . For example, "Women who persist and
stay open to adventure and opportunity can create a happy,
4. Make your front cover fit your book content. You have 5-10
seconds to hook your potential buyer. The cover and the title
sell more books than any other part. Bookstore buyers buy mainly
by cover designs. If you want an agent or publisher your title
and subtitle are vital. Use four-color and get professional
design help. For business, use colors like red, blue and maroon.
For softer subjects, use softer colors. Women like aqua, red,
yellow, so include those for their books.
5. Write a thirty-second "tell and sell." You only have a few
seconds to impress the media, the agent, the bookseller, and the
individual buyer. Include your title, a few benefits, and the
audience. Include a few sound bites that grab attention. You may
also want to compare your book to a successful one. "Passion at
Any Age" is the "Artist's Way" for seniors.
6. Write your back cover before you write your book. This is the
second most important sales tool your book has to offer. Here
you put compelling ad copy, benefits, testimonials, and a small
blurb about you, the author. If your potential buyer likes it,
they will buy on the spot. If they want more information, they
will look inside at the introduction and table of contents.
Reach out to opinion molders. After an initial contact of asking
for feedback, resend them the same chapter, the "tell and sell,"
and the table of contents of your book. Ask for a testimonial
then. These influential contacts' testimonials will make your
back cover an important sales tool.
Your back cover becomes a precursor of your Web site sales
7. Write your book's introduction. Include the problem your
audience has, why you wrote the book, and its purpose. In a few
paragraphs include more specific benefits, and how you will
present it (format). Keep it under a page. The biggest mistake
authors make is to tell their story in the introduction. Your
readers want to know how you can help them.
8. Create a table of contents. Each chapter should have a name,
preferably a catchy one. If your reader can't understand the
chapter title, then annotate it. Add some benefits or a sub
title. In Passion at Any Age, the author put the word "passion"
in each title to help brand the "Passion" title. Which attracts
you more? "Open Your Mind?" or "Attracting Passion?" Often
fiction doesn't name chapter titles, but for the reader, it
helps a lot.
9. Know your book's benefits. That's what sells your book. After
you create a list of 5-10 of them, keep them handy for the
outside sales copy--the stuff that gives people enough
information to make an intelligent decision to buy. Omitting
these words and phrases costs new authors book sales. Remember
that features such as the tips, quotes, side bars, and stories
help explain what's in the book, but they aren't strong sellers
like benefits are. After you know your benefits, you can quickly
write your back cover, your "tell and sell," and your web site
or email sales letter.
Designing every part of your book to be a sales tool and a
beacon to writing a focused, compelling, understandable, and
enjoyable book is a must, before you write a single chapter. If
your book is already done, be sure to rethink these hot selling
points for the promotion you need to sell your book.
Book and Internet Marketing Coach, Judy Cullins, can help you build
credibility and clients, sell a lot of books, and make maximum
profits. Author of 11 books including Write your eBook or Other
Short Book Fast and The Fast and Cheap Way to Explode Targeted
Web Traffic" Get her free eBook"20 High Octane Book Writing and
Marketing Tips" and two free monthly ezines at:
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