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What is an engaging, interesting accounting topic for a speech to small business owners?
July 12, 2012 7:28 AM   Subscribe

What is an engaging, interesting accounting topic for a speech to small business owners?

I have to give a 10 minute speech on some topic of accounting. My problem is that the audience members are lay people (small business owners) and I don't want to put them to sleep with intricate boring facts (as we CPAs tend to do).

What is a good topic idea? Or a good book to report on?
posted by Snackpants to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I would want to know about legitimate expenses I may be overlooking in terms of reducing my tax income.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:30 AM on July 12, 2012


I should point out that this is for business accounting, not personal taxes. Pretty much every business expense is deductible so there is not much to talk about.
posted by Snackpants at 7:34 AM on July 12, 2012


Give a presentation on which business expenses aren't deductible, with some amusing anecdotes about people who went way overboard.
posted by Etrigan at 7:37 AM on July 12, 2012


.tips & tricks for keeping the books properly, but quickly.
.compare/contrast different systems - quickbooks, etc. There may still be small businesses using something like McBee checks, which I used in my small business days, pre-affordable computing.
.organizational strategies for keeping track of receipts, bills, mileage expense, and other cruft.
.how to deal with employment taxes
.any state or tax issues that are not necessarily well covered elsewhere.
.longer-term strategies for those legitimate expenses mentioned above. Last I knew, home office expense was a PITA, but there may be tax advantages to hiring a spouse or kids. Most tax expenses require some planning.
.perhaps a review of how capital expenses get entered in taxes.
.you may get lots of questions. But, they may be shy about asking. A few "Which form of schedule 91-XX54 does everybody use? /d or /f? Anybody want to share why?" can help them warm up. Some of your audience may know small business taxes really well, others may be a bit green, and using the audience's expertise helps their group develop.
.IRS jokes
.an understanding that small business owners work hard, long hours and don't actually rake in the dough in the short term.

Don't talk too fast, ask if you're covering material too fast or too slow, smile, and have fun.
posted by theora55 at 7:41 AM on July 12, 2012


Is it possible you can talk about what slightly larger companies are doing in terms of accounting strategy, SMEs are always worrying about what's next, what they don't know. That or the pros or cons of the small business accounting software and when they will outgrow it.

Otherwise the 10 commandments of good financial discipline, what well run businesses keep on top of, e.g. sending invoices as quickly as possible, having someone on top of AP, closing books within 7 days after month end, etc. Another idea is accrual vs cash based accounting and when it can help your business. It's hard to know without knowing the exact demographic.
posted by Disco Moo at 7:49 AM on July 12, 2012


Snackpants: "I should point out that this is for business accounting, not personal taxes. Pretty much every business expense is deductible so there is not much to talk about."

Well, there were certainly a lot of expenses I was considering as personal ones that were really legit business ones such as certain uses of my car/truck, my cell phone, etc.

But I also like Etrigan's suggestion of talking about the insane ones that people try to claim such as when your daughter works a few hours in the summer and you deduct her college tuition as tuition reimbursement.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:50 AM on July 12, 2012


WOW! Great suggestions! Thank you all.
posted by Snackpants at 8:22 AM on July 12, 2012


Merits of accrual accounting for planning and evaluating purposes. Small business people are extremely focused on cash flow, often to the extent that they simply don't think about their accrual financials even when it is helpful (and often look a mess when it is necessary).
posted by MattD at 8:42 AM on July 12, 2012


Is there an area of accounting that you are especially passionate about? I think some of the “boring facts” come across that way because the presenter is not very passionate about the topic. If you pick something that excites you, your excitement will be conveyed to the audience.
posted by TeknoKid at 9:25 AM on July 12, 2012


How about the pros and cons of deducting one's home office, and the tax implications when one goes to sell the house that contained the home office? That'll hit them like a ton of bricks.
posted by BostonTerrier at 10:47 AM on July 12, 2012


Pretty much every business expense is deductible so there is not much to talk about.

If these are sole proprietorships in the United States, any income from them is taxed as personal income. There are many things that can be deducted as business expenses that are not obvious, and tax issues one can plan around. Depending on how knowledgeable the business owners are about taxes, they might know more about that topic than you do.

You could talk about the differences between business accounting and IRS records as far as how profits are calculated, depreciation, home offices, business use of personal vehicles, meals with clients, etc.
posted by yohko at 12:22 PM on July 12, 2012


Talk about what fraud looks like in small businesses. Does their bookkeeper never go on vacation? Do they see original invoices when signing checks? Does the person who writes the check also reconcile the bank statement? Stuff like that.
posted by eleslie at 7:48 PM on July 12, 2012


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