Knoxville, TN CPA and Accounting Firm

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865-212-4867 / 844-527-2477

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Working in a Winter Wonderland

Fancy SnowmanWe're at home, and it's snowing
There's some ice and wind is blowing
They said the office is closed, but its tax season so,
We're working in a winter wonderland.
Got a MacBook and my IPad.
A 2nd screen so it's not bad.
Got a virtual office you know,
And the Internet is a go.
Working in a winter wonderland.
Then at lunchtime we'll go build a snowman,
And we'll pretend he's the IRS.
We'll have lots of fun with Mr. Snowman,
When we roll him down the hill in his dress.
Working at home is a real breeze.
We just need more snow and ice please.
We're working in our BVD's,
With some beers and grilled cheese
Working in a winter wonderland.
     Working!
          In a winter,
               Wonderlaaaaaaannnnnd!!

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Jason Lawhorn; CPA,CITP,CVA,MAcc
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Controlling Your Accounting Costs

I recently did a Lunch & Learn presentation at our office in Knoxville, relating to controlling accounting costs.  I know…I bet you didn't know that was possible!  Well, this is the 21st century, and it is definitely possible.

A Brief History of Traditional Professional Service Billing Practices
For many years, financial professionals have billed by the hour.  Someone might charge $200 per hour for however long it takes to get it done. But, what does this method of billing lack? It certainly lacks any incentive to be efficient or effective in achieving the result.  If you’re going to pay me $200 per hour, then what is my incentive to get to the end result quickly and without sacrificing quality for preparing, let's say, a tax return?  Not much.  The only risk I run if I take my sweet time to prepare the tax return is that you are unhappy with a high bill.  Your risk in being billed in this manner is that I could be inefficient and cause your accounting fees to rise as a result of my inefficiency or lack of urgency, either of which is or should be unacceptable. Acceptable use for this method of billing would include when you are being represented by a professional in front of a government body (think IRS) or for face-to-face meeting time.  There are other similar services, but these are the two most common examples of a service that cannot readily be quantified and would be billed by the hour.

21st Century Billing Practices
Technologies for most financial professionals have come a long way in the past 10 years and have created efficiencies in their work.  These efficiencies allow us, as professionals, to readily and reasonably quantify the value that we provide and how quickly we can provide it, without sacrificing quality.  Thus "value pricing" was born.  At Lawhorn CPA Group, we have been billing this way since 2003, and are committed to providing our clients with exceptional value while reducing their client-side risk for the work being done.  If we are efficient and effective in the work we do, without sacrificing quality, for an agreed upon price before the work begins then we will make a profit on the service provided.  If we are not efficient and effective in providing the service then we don't make a profit.  Now who holds the risk for inefficiency?  The professional does.  So now you, as the client, 1) know what the cost is up front and can budget for it; 2) don't have to worry about any surprise bills; 3) receive maximum value for each dollar spent without the risk of any inefficiencies that may exist in the professional organization; and 4) you choose the level of service that will fit your needs and your budget.

Value pricing with professional services firms is now taking another leap to "Package Pricing" with the advent of Cloudware Ecosystems like that of Xero, which provide off-premise and integrated solutions to small businesses all over the world.  Companies like Xero are changing how professionals and small businesses alike operate by disrupting the status quo for their industry.

What to do?
Take a close look at the relationships with your financial professionals.  Are you getting the value from the relationship, or are you being blindsided by large bills and carrying the risk of inefficiencies? If your CPA isn't quoting you a price up front for service, then you need to ask yourself and your CPA why.

If you didn’t have the opportunity to attend our live seminar and learn about how you can control and plan for your accounting costs, contact us and we would be glad to meet with you to discuss how we can help you do just that.

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Jason Lawhorn; CPA,CITP,CVA,MAcc
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Teleworking is the Future

When I had my first child, nine years ago, I had been in my position with Lawhorn CPA Group, Inc. for about two years. I was inclined to stay at home with my daughter, but didn’t really want to quit work all together. After all, I love what I do.

Working From Home SignI was given permission to work from home three days a week. I loved it! I could throw a load of laundry in or sometimes finish my day early, leaving time to spend with my husband and daughter. I had those three days a week with minimal interruptions. When I say minimal, I mean minimal. The only time my precious baby cried out was when it was feeding time. I loved spending those first months at home with her, and feeling complete in my career at the same time. I saved time and money because I didn’t have any kind of commute. I had an office set up in our home, complete with a desktop computer and my cell phone. That is all it took. Since we work in a virtual environment, I was able to log in just as I would if I was here at the office.

My sweet little baby turned into mischievous baby once she started crawling and then went onto walking. The days of watching her sleep most of the day away had turned into banging pots and pans and the occasional jump up and rescue her from getting hurt. This made it very difficult for me to concentrate, and something as simple as taking a phone call became frustrating. I decided to go back to working in the office full time and forgo working from home. The point is…life happens and our circumstances change. I knew when working from home was no longer a viable solution for me.

Teleworking has evolved over the years, from “working from home” with a PC, a telephone and a simple VPN connection, to mobile connectivity and video collaboration that enable employees to truly interact with one another and access critical data, anytime, anywhere, on any device. According to the Telework Research Network, about 2.5% of the American workforce who are NOT self-employed consider home their primary workplace. More companies and government agencies have incorporated teleworking policies. For more information, you can visit http://www.mobileworkexchange.com/teleworkweek/.

With the virtual capabilities that we have today, teleworking has been a fitting solution for two of our own TEAM members. One of our partners and an administrator has teleworking down to a science. Both of them work virtually (and literally) from home every day.

Our partner describes his home office as a cockpit. He has a set up with everything at an arm’s reach. He loves being able to play his music without disturbing anyone, having his own personal view of the woods and river from his desk, and the ability to “go to work” in the middle of the night if he can’t sleep. Another huge plus for him is getting an early start to his day without much preparation or the long drive. He often needs to call the IRS and speak with an agent, but usually can’t get right through. With no drive time, he can get his call in at 7 am to begin his wait in the queue. Our administrator acknowledges that her home office is the perfect solution for someone who, logistically, wouldn’t be able to commute to the office on a daily basis. She lives two hours away from the office. Yet, with a virtual office, she is able to still be productive for the company on a daily basis.

Both team members are hooked into the same phone system that we have in the main office and, therefore, they are only a phone button away. Both have a workstation setup as if they were here in our office, equipped with computer and multiple monitors, a printer and a scanner. We started our “teleworking” effort seven years ago with little to no technical problems. And today, as you can see, we have this thing down! The best part about it is that our client service has not been hindered because we utilize teleworking to our advantage and know when it is the right solution.

I would like to hear from you! Please share your telecommuting stories with me at LinkedIn.


Lisa Ingle
Lisa Ingle, Human Resources Director
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There is no "I" in TEAM

I've heard this phrase many times over the years:  “All growth starts with the truth.”  It is such a simple concept.  Be honest about where you and your business really are, and decisions can be made that truly make a difference.  Whether those decisions ease a pain or propel you to the next level, if you aren't really honest with yourself, or your team, about where you really are right now in reality, then any change instituted may not have the intended impact.  And, in fact, could have negative repercussions for you or your business.

Especially where you have a multiple owner scenario or an entrenched management team, the truth is sometimes hard to come by.  Why?  Team achieves moreWell, there are always egos that have to be checked, but beyond that it comes down to perception vs. reality.  Each person’s perception is their own reality, and many times those perceptions do not align.  So, it takes some real digging to get perceptions aligned to what the real reality is.

If you are the sole business owner it can be even worse!  When you don't have multiple perspectives, how you perceive what your business’s reality or truth could be all wrong, and you'd never know until it might be too late.  Or, even worse, your gut may be telling you one thing, but you just can't face whatever the truth may really be.  We see these situations all the time.  A small business owner believes they are in compliance for tax purposes, but in reality they are not.  An individual believes that just having a standard in place for their $10 million dollar estate will suffice, but in reality it does not.  Life insurance of $250 thousand should be enough to meet the needs of your family in the event of your untimely demise, but it wasn't.

Regardless of whether you are a single business owner or whether you have other owners or shareholders in your business, you absolutely need a TEAM of professionals that will be your long-time, 3rd party partners in helping your business grow.  A team of the right professionals will keep you and the business protected legally and fiscally.  That team will direct you on how to accumulate wealth, facilitate strategic planning, and facilitate succession, transition, and an exit when you are ready to cash out for retirement.  And that is just the tip of the iceberg. You need a relationship with a lawyer, a banker, a marketer, a technology professional, a financial planner and, of course, don't forget your need for a CPA.  Whether your business is large or very small, these professionals are integral to your success.  The difference between large and small companies is that many times a large company can employ these same professionals full-time;  a luxury most small businesses do not have.

So what are you waiting for?  Put together a team of experts, working with each other in your best interest, who will provide the perspective you need to get to the truth about where you are with your business.  From there you can go anywhere with confidence, knowing you have the leadership, the relationships, and the creativity needed to drive your truth to the next level year after year.
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Jason Lawhorn; CPA,CITP,CVA,MAcc
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A Little Culture Goes a Long Way

A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure of heading down to the Farmer’s Market on Market Square in downtown Knoxville. It’s been awhile since I’ve been and it really seemed much larger than I remembered. There are definitely more stands of all kinds to visit and now there are FOOD TRUCKS!

Enter the Old City Buskers! They set up right on the corner outside of Urban Outfitters and as we shopped, or should I say as they shopped ("they" know who "they” are), two of the OC Buskers who had the easy part of the set up started playing some warm up tunes. Instantly, the whole farmers market came alive! The veggies were greener, the berries fresher, the beef jerky was jerkier, the sky bluer, the delicious aromas of the food trucks and cafes were good enough to knock you over with pangs of hunger and a feeling came over me like there was no other place on the planet that I would rather be than on that square at that market. I was inspired to get to meeting vendors and purchasing their wares (which I did, about $200) and was smiling all the while.Those that know me, know that I love me a food truck and to have such an outstanding variety of farm stands along with other art, baked goods, preserved goods, beef jerky, soap (gotta stay clean), clothing and oh did I mention FOOD TRUCKS; you would have thought that I walked right into my own little heaven as I started perusing the wares of the hard working and talented vendors. But strangely I was really not that into it? And it didn’t seem like any one else really was either? Weird right?

It wasn’t just me that noticed. No, everyone noticed and I noticed them noticing. Say that 5 times as fast as you can! It was incredible and inspiring to me what the Old City Buskers did for the farmers market. It was the last missing piece to the experience of being there and more importantly remembering.

I think many times in business you can be missing that last little piece of culture that will make the difference between the experience your customers attend vs. the experience that your customers will remember. It really doesn’t take much and every businesses pieces will be different. It’s more of delivering a feeling on a particular set at any given time. . Systematizing the predictable and humanizing the experience. Focus on your front stage experience supported by your backstage crew.

So I’ll leave you with a nugget to think about: Do you have a front stage experience that your customers will be inspired to tell others about and what are you doing to differentiate yourself and your business in your market?experience your customers attend vs. the experience that your customers will remember. It really doesn’t take much and every businesses pieces will be different. It’s more of delivering a feeling on a particular set at any given time. . Systematizing the predictable and humanizing the experience. Focus on your front stage experience supported by your backstage crew.

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Jason Lawhorn; CPA,CITP,CVA,MAcc
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