Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

SoHo Issues for Small Firm CPAs: Big Company Techniques for Handling Small Company Growing Pains

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

SoHo Issues for Small Firm CPAs: Big Company Techniques for Handling Small Company Growing Pains

Article excerpt

Executive Roundtable:

How long has your organization been serving CPAs and small businesses, particularly those working in the small office/home office (SOHO) environment?

(CINDY BATES, MICROSOFT) Small businesses and the CPA community are a top priority for Microsoft[R] and we are committed to delivering solutions to meet the unique needs of these segments. We've served small businesses and CPAs almost since our inception 30 years ago. We've done extensive research, including hiring numerous social scientists and anthropologists in an effort to understand how small business customers work so that we can design products and services to better meet their needs.

(WALTER TUREK, PAYCHEX) Since Paychex was founded in 1971, the company has been focused on serving CPAs and small businesses. Because a small business owner's CPA often functions as his or her CFO, Paychex has always believed that partnering with CPAs is valuable to all parties. CPAs offer value-added services to their clients, and Paychex handles payroll and human resource services, which allows CPAs to focus on more income-producing functions and on serving as a consultant to their small business clients.

What key trends are you seeing today in the SOHO environment?

(TUREK) At Paychex, we are seeing dynamic growth in the number of new business openings--with a significant number of them in the category of five or fewer employees. As one would suspect, a number of them are in the small office/home office environment. The entrepreneurial spirit in American business lends itself to encouraging individuals to pursue employment in this environment.

(BATES) I think of this period of time as the small business technology revolution. What we're seeing today is akin to the productivity increases that resulted from the Industrial Revolution. The solutions that, a decade ago, were only available to the largest companies for millions of dollars are now available to small businesses for very affordable prices. And they're available with easy-to-use interfaces, bringing powerful control of information to small business owners. The power of a simple server, centralized data and tools to access that data is available today and small business owners can act on it intelligently.

How are SOHO businesses working differently today than they used to?

(BATES) The digital work style is really becoming mainstream in the United States and the imperative for businesses, both large and small, is to be able to use information in better ways. Software is stepping up to the challenge, but it needs to be simple, particularly for small businesses. A small business isn't likely to have an IT person on staff. To be most productive, a small business does not want a patchwork of different pieces of software that don't integrate simply and seamlessly.

(TUREK) The scope of issues that comes with running a small business today is broad--ranging from payroll to retirement planning to tax risks--and necessitates that CPAs be broadly knowledgeable. In the role of trusted adviser, CPAs are optimally positioned to help their clients.

Why do you think CPAs are optimally positioned today to help clients with small business issues?

(BATES) We all recognize the important role that CPAs play as key business partners and trusted advisers to small businesses. Their unique role makes them in many cases the ideal person to support their clients across many areas of their business. CPAs' role today has expanded to go beyond accounting and tax advice, and now includes business consulting aspects, such as strategic planning, technology recommendations and in some cases, personal financial planning.

(TUREK) The CPA is the trusted adviser to Small Business America. Yet, as the business of doing business grows more complex, the role of the CPA as adviser to the small businessperson gains in complexity as well. …

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