The right time to grow your business

With the national economy on the rebound, small business owners in Akron and Northeast Ohio may be wondering when the recovery will come our way.

Smart business owners know that growth doesn’t just happen by accident. Growing a business requires more than hard work and patience; growth is the result of sound leadership, creativity and objectivity in decision-making.

These are the qualities the CPA profession brings to the table as a key partner of the business community. Every day, Ohio’s 23,000-plus Certified Public Accountants help businesses develop financial insights and make decisions that ensure prosperity does not bypass our state or the tens of thousands of Ohio businesses.

So what do CPAs look for when helping a small business grow? We begin planning for a brighter future by gaining a better understanding of the present.

Finding growth potential

The most obvious way to boost revenue is to increase sales of products or services. Properly marketing your business helps build and retain a loyal customer base.

Because customers have more choices, they tend to be less loyal than ever before. Effective marketing reminds customers of your business’s value. For business owners already strapped for time, preparing for this task may be easier said than done.

A CPA would approach the problem by identifying core competencies that define your business and can lead to competitive advantages. He or she would then help determine what resources need to be devoted toward achieving your business objectives, and help you develop measurements to monitor the effectiveness of your marketing plan.

Managing cash flow

Increasing sales of products or services is only half of the equation. CPAs also look for ways to help businesses grow profit margins by creating practical strategies for managing cash flow.

All businesses — small businesses in particular — need to re-examine their credit practices and billing methods on a regular basis. Are your procedures generating prompt returns, or is it time to ratchet up your system for tracking and collecting on overdue accounts? Are your methods for monitoring inventory helping you keep pace with consumer demand?

If your business is saddled by outdated merchandise or equipment, a CPA could also help determine the most cost-effective means of dealing with this burden.

Recruiting and retaining quality staff

Smart businesses understand that quality staff members can help drive growth.

Economic challenges have forced many businesses to slash their work force. As a result, businesses are often left short-handed when demand picks up and face performance standstills when employees fear losing their jobs. Skyrocketing health insurance premiums only add to the burden on employers.

There are no easy solutions. But CPAs would begin to address these issues by investigating strategies that foster productivity, boost morale and create loyalty in a business’s work force. Setting clear expectations and empowering employees to make decisions is an inexpensive way to keep them on track.

A CPA might also examine what avenues staff members have for communicating their ideas or grievances to management. Finally, CPAs can help assess your training and benefits packages, and recommend changes based on your needs. Your business may, for example, be paying for medical coverage that your employees do not use.

Making a commitment to growth

Growing a small business requires a strong commitment. Knowing when to make decisions and when it is appropriate to turn to other professionals for advice is vital.

The Ohio Society of CPAs provides a number of services that can help your business grow. It operates a free Ohio CPA Referral Service that can help you locate a CPA in your area who possesses the expertise to assist your business with its unique challenges.

The Ohio Society also publishes a monthly electronic newsletter, Currency, that contains practical financial advice for businesses and individual investors. David A. Brockman, CPA, is a past chair of The Ohio Society of CPAs executive Board and is a partner at Brockman, Coats, Gedelian & Co. in Akron. To learn more about The Ohio Society of CPAs, visit or call (800) 686-2727.