For many business owners, navigating a path to success can be compared to walking through a minefield. New business owners — as well as those operating mature businesses — often face unexpected problems at every bend in the road. Confronting these challenges need not be as fraught with worry and confusion as it may appear. Ken Boyar, a business consultant and CPA with more than 25 years of experience will guide you through some of the more common problems entrepreneurs face. Through his examples, you will learn not only how to avoid common mistakes but how to gain the tools you need to fix problems that may have already occurred. This primer on the “do’s and don’ts” of business operations will help set you on the path to mastering your own small business.
Chapter III Acceptable and Unacceptable Risk One of my favorite movie characters appears in And Justice For All. In the 1979 film, actor Jack Warden portrays a judge with a distinct peculiarity. Taking risks is one of his greatest pleasures. For instance, he enjoys eating his lunch perched on the windowsill of his office, several stories high. The most dramatic example of his love of risk-taking occurs when he shows off his piloting skills to a colleague, played by Al Pacino. Up in his Cessna, Warner turns to Pacino and says, “You see, I calculate how many miles the fuel will take me, divide it in half, and then go one mile further. Then, I head back. The real fun occurs when I see whether I can actually make it back safely.” The look on Al Pacino’s face is priceless as he realizes that he may be facing his own death. Needless to say, the two make it back but not before surviving a semi-crash landing that leaves them relatively unharmed. And since these scenes are played for laughs by fine actors, the audience is hugely amused. And now back to business. Chances are you are not launching your business venture as a sole proprietor. You may have partners as well as employees. Like the judge in And Justice For All you are not traveling alone. Evaluate your risks carefully. You cannot take your innocent employees and possibly uninformed partners on a ride that places them in peril. The judge in the film felt entitled to take all of the risks he wanted. So where did he go wrong? He didn’t inform his colleague of his fuel strategy before the plane left the ground. Al Pacino went along on a dangerous ride, without being an informed participant. You too will undoubtedly take risks. Your partner(s) may well go along for the ride. But the risks need to be out in the open and decisions made together. You and your partners may play different roles in the company, but communication is essential. Establish a communicative relationship from day one. Set up weekly meetings in which to share ideas and catch up on the latest information. Arrange regular dinner meetings, where you can share your thoughts in a neutral environment. You won’t regret it. And, if you’ve never seen the film, do so, and watch masterful actors turn risk-taking into an art form.
Ken Boyar has owned and operated his own accounting firm for the past 10 years. During more than 25 years of experience in the accounting and business consulting fields he has been a keen observer of small businesses. Ken’s business essays and articles have appeared in several well-known publications. This is his first full-length work, and much of the material is derived from his first-hand experience with more than 50 client businesses. His company can be located online at www.kenboyarcpa.com. He lives happily in Hoboken, New Jersey, with his two French Bulldogs.