Most small businesses own fixed assets, which include items like land, buildings, equipment, and automobiles. The investments of adding, replacing, or improving upon fixed assets is called capital expenditures (capex).

It seems like there is never enough money for all the capital expenditures that need to be done in a business. To make the best spending decisions, the business owner needs to put processes in place for capex activities.

The first step is to make a list of all the capital projects you want to do. Here are some examples:

  • Buy an additional truck for deliveries.
  • Expand the warehouse space.
  • Purchase a piece of equipment for the manufacturing line.
  • Redo the dock area to improve loading efficiency.

Once you’ve made your list, you can begin to formalize your capital expenditure process. Each project should be detailed and estimated, with bids from vendors so that you have a very good idea of the cost.

The next step is the most important. What are the estimated savings for each project? In other words, what will your return on investment be? In capital expenditure spending, this answer is crucial. For each project, estimate the expected savings in time, money, and intangible benefits, and what the breakeven time will be.

This step can be extremely difficult because the savings might not be concrete. It could be that the benefit is improved customer service, which should result in future sales. In this case, you still need to estimate future sales. In most cases, it can take years for a capital expenditure to start paying off from a cash flow standpoint.

Now, make a summary table of your results.

Project Cost Anticipated Savings Benefit Notes
Truck $40,000 Increases sales by $1,000 per week.

Marketing spending (non-capex) increases by $3,000/year.

Assume cash sale – if loan, figure interest expense.

First year: $9,000 savings.

Second year savings: $49,000. Breakeven comes in second year.

Increases sales capacity and reduces delivery times.
Redo the dock area $20,000 Time saved – payroll costs decrease by 1/2 headcount. Savings of $27,000. If attrition used, defer savings. First year savings: -$7,000. Second year savings: $27,000. Breakeven comes at end of second year. Employee happiness, reduced turnover are intangibles.

When deciding which project to do, return on investment is only one factor to consider. You must also consider employee satisfaction and turnover issues, customer service, capacity management, tax breaks, breakeven time, cash flow, lending limits and financial ratios, and other factors that might be specific to your industry.

The key is to have a process. If you don’t, you might off the top of your head say “let’s do the cheapest project first.” But it might not be the one with the highest return, which can cause cash flow and profitability issues down the road.

Taxes need to be considered, which have been left off of the above example. Especially if it’s just before year-end and you have high profits, December could be the best timing for a higher return on investment.

Another consideration is if you will need a loan to make these improvements. Interest rates have been rising, and these costs, plus your cash flow impact, need to be evaluated. As your debt increases, your financial ratios also need to be evaluated. You have to be careful not to go into too much debt overall.

Once you have documented all of these considerations, you can make a much better-informed decision on your capex spending and which project to do first. You might consider creating a capex committee to help you make a decision. Be sure to include your accounting advisor on the committee!

Three Processes for Capital Expenditures

You need three processes to properly evaluate capital projects:

  1. Initiation, estimating, and evaluating return on investment for each capex project.
  2. Prioritization – what gets done first?
  3. Managing and monitoring the projects once they have started.

We’ve talked about the first two; let’s talk about managing the project. You’ll want to appoint a project manager that can oversee the project’s progress and make any course corrections needed. Once the project is complete, set milestones so that you can see how accurate the estimates were of both costs and benefits. You might need to set milestones every year for several years in order to accurately measure actual return. Doing this will make you a better estimator in the future.

Spending at the right time on capex projects is surely still more art than science. Putting formal processes in place will improve your chances for a better return, smoother cash flow, and improved profits. And, since this is an incredibly complicated area, we are happy to step in and help with any of these capex processes, so feel free to give us a call.

A new year is a perfect time for a fresh start for you and your business. Here are five ways to welcome 2023 and make it your best year ever.

  1. Decide on a theme for 2023

Setting a theme for the year can help you remember what you want to focus on. Some examples of themes might be:

  • Growth and improvements to your business. You can be specific, such as making your theme the year of mastering technology, the year of profitability where you focus on cutting costs or increasing sales, or the year of diversity where you focus on creating a diverse team.
  • Downsizing, cleansing or simplifying. Perhaps your business has grown so quickly that you need to sit back, de-clutter, re-design, or simply clean your office.
  • Is it time to launch a new service?
  • Giving back. If everything is humming along, it could be time to start giving back to your profession or community.

From here, you can create a plan of tasks and timelines that are aligned with the theme you’ve chosen.

  1. Go on a retreat

If you need to regroup and rejuvenate from a stressful holiday season, then a retreat can do the trick. A retreat is a time to set goals for your business and make a plan. You could discover that you are on track or that you need a course correction in your business.

A retreat can be made alone or with certain team members. Typically, the events of a retreat include a combination of planning and brainstorming sessions, education, team-building, and social activities.

If a retreat sounds like too much work, then a quick vacation might be in order, just so you can enter the new year with a relaxed mind.

  1. Learn from 2022

If 2022 was a bumpy time for your business, it might be a good idea to perform a detailed review. This will help you learn what went wrong and explore why. You can then brainstorm ideas on how to avoid the pitfalls of 2022 as you move into 2023. You can make it as informal as you want, or structured as an after-action review.

  1. Select a word for 2023

If setting a theme is too complicated, how about selecting one simple word for 2023? Here are some ideas:

  • Abundance (think big, go after large contracts and big projects)
  • Creativity
  • Powerful relationships (OK, that’s two words!)
  • Gratitude
  • Service
  • Humility
  • Forgiveness (especially good if you are in customer service or have difficult clients)
  • Fun
  • Helpful
  • Prosperity

I’m sure you can think of one that will be perfect for you. Once you do, write the word on several sticky notes and paste it everywhere you work and maybe even at home. Your postings will serve as a reminder of what your intention is throughout 2023.

  1. Make a profit plan (AKA budget)

Making a profit plan for the new year will help you hone in on the profit amounts that you want to achieve. Understanding how much volume you need to reach and what you can spend will avoid surprises at year-end. At mid-year, it’s a good idea to see if you are on track for the rest of the year.

Whether you do one or all of the ideas above, we hope you have an awesome 2023 and that it’s your best year ever.

“Quiet quitting” is a very new term in 2022 that refers to one or more employees who remain working, but only do the minimum job during regular work hours. They are done going the extra mile, they are done working overtime, they are likely done caring all that much, and they may also be quite burned out.

The last three years have been anything but easy. Shortly after the closings occurred due to the pandemic, many people lost their jobs. While recovery was taking place, millions more people decided that they would either retire or take a rest for a few years. This made up what was called the Great Resignation. It took a few years for employment to come back to pre-pandemic levels.

A huge movement to work remotely simultaneously occurred, and many people have been reluctant to return to the office. Many more people suffered financial hardship, in spite of government help, and are still recovering.

All of these conditions and more have stressed employees and led to mental health challenges for millions. Thus, “quiet quitting” should not be too much of a surprise.

What Can an Employer Do?

There is quite a bit an employer can do about quiet quitting. For the entire staff, here are some tips to try:

  • Ensure that employees’ health plans include a robust mental health component.
  • Partner with a child-care and/or senior-care agency to reduce the stress of finding support for families who need it. This will help women re-enter the workforce, as they have been the most impacted.
  • Implement employee wellness programs designed specifically to reduce stress as well as to take care of physical and mental well-being.
  • Add some perks, such as employing a yoga instructor or a teacher certified in mindfulness-based stress reduction methods for an hour a week.
  • Encourage employees to take vacation time to reduce burnout.
  • Add training programs so that employees can have a chance to develop new skills.
  • Add an education reimbursement program where employees can go back to school and earn a degree or certificate related to their job.
  • Bring back the company Christmas party, picnic, or movie night so employees can socialize with each other again.

Anything that can help to refresh and rejuvenate your employees will help reduce quiet quitting in your company. While many of these can cost quite a bit, a few of them are very affordable.

On the individual level, and especially for individuals you suspect may be quiet quitting, it’s a good idea to conduct a formal process of setting goals. While this is normally done during employee performance review time, it doesn’t have to be. It can be very effective to sit down with an employee and simply ask what they want to get out of this job and what they want their future to look like.

Goal-setting encourages well-being and can give an employee something to strive for. Refreshing goals quarterly can help an employee re-engage with their job. It can also help a supervisor identify an employee who might be happy doing another job, so that a re-assignment can take place that is advantageous for both parties.

Increasing Employee Engagement

Whether your employees are quiet quitting or not, it’s always a good idea to offer programs and benefits that help employees re-engage, rejuvenate, and refresh their work on the job.

The word “audit” can be thrown around a lot in casual conversation. When an accounting professional uses it, it means something very specific. We’ll discuss this and other uses of the term “audit” in this article.

Financial Audit

A financial audit is an official service designed to inspect the accounting records, technology, and processes of an organization. An audit can only be conducted by a licensed CPA that is independent of the organization.

Independence is a special term as well, meaning the CPA who audits the organization must have no relationship with the organization or its owners and employees. For example, if the organization’s owner is the sister of the auditor, that won’t work!

To conduct an audit, the CPA performs an audit program, which is a set of tasks that review the company transactions, balances, and accounting processes. The audit program is custom-designed to the company based on the risks perceived by the audit team, the type of organization being audited and other factors. Once the audit has been completed, the auditor will issue a formal report stating the findings of the audit. The report typically includes a letter, financial statements, and footnotes.

The auditor’s report can be utilized by the company’s management as well as third parties, such as lenders and stockholders.

While there are mandatory audit requirements for large public companies, government institutions, schools, and some larger nonprofit organizations, small businesses are not typically audited because of the expense. That’s when additional assurance services come in handy.

Other Assurance Services

An audit falls under assurance services in accounting, and it’s the most stringent of all. Other types of assurance services include:

Compilations. In this engagement, the CPA performs basic checks on your financial statements and puts them together with a cover letter. It basically tells a third party that you have a CPA, but it provides the least amount of assurance service.

Reviews. In a review, there are a few more checks and tests that a CPA will perform before issuing financial statements. This service provides more assurance than a compilation, but less than an audit.

Agreed-upon procedures. An engagement with agreed-upon procedures is a very specific engagement where one aspect of the business is reviewed in accordance with a specific goal.

For small businesses who are asked for documents from your accountant by a bank or lender, you can often provide one of these lower-level assurance reports and it will not only suffice, but save your money.

Auditing a Class

Auditing a class has nothing to do with accounting! It simply means you’re sitting in on a college course, but not getting any kind of credit or grade.

The Dreaded IRS Audit

The term audit can also be used informally to define an inspection that is narrower in scope, such as an IRS audit or a state agency audit. There is no assurance provided in this type of audit. The purpose of this audit is to produce whatever records you are asked for in order to verify the numbers you sent to the agency.

An audit may be somewhat of a stressful and unpleasant, but necessary, experience. Having your accountant support you along the way can be reassuring (pun intended).

All businesses, no matter their size, have bills to pay. The larger the business, the more formal the accounts payable process tends to be. That doesn’t mean small business owners can’t benefit from a formal accounts payable process. Too many “fake” bills are being sent, and all businesses should have safeguards in place. Let’s take a look at the workflow of accounts payable to see where we can put some controls in place to protect your hard-earned money.

Purchase Order

A good first step is to initiate a purchase ordering process. All spending over a certain amount, such as $500, should require pre-approval from a manager or officer of your company. This can take the form of a purchase order.

A purchase order (PO) is simply a pledge on the part of your company to purchase an item or group of items from a particular vendor. It should include the vendor’s information, the item(s) and quantities, the price that the vendor has agreed to, and who initiated and approved the proposed purchase. It will look similar to an invoice, but it’s not an invoice and should be appropriately marked.

If the price is not standard or the items are custom, there may be an estimate from the vendor that documents the price on the purchase order. The estimate document is written by the vendor, while the purchase order is originated by your company.

While the purchase order is important, it does not create any entry on your accounting records, as no transaction has taken place yet.


The invoice is the documentation of the purchase with a request for payment and is created by the vendor you are obtaining goods or services from. It should be recorded on your accounting books once it is received from the vendor.

The invoice should be matched with the purchase order, checking to see if each item, quantity and price match the same on the purchase order. Any discrepancies should be explained.

The timing of the invoice can vary. It may be received before or after you actually receive the goods or services that it covers.

The invoice should not be paid yet (unless prepayment is required). We’ll cover that in a minute.

Packing Slip

If the goods you have ordered are physical and are to be shipped to you, then there will usually be a packing slip or shipping document included in the shipment. The shipping document will have quantities, but may not have prices.  The document should be matched with the actual items received and any shortages or overages should be noted.

A process to stock the items into your inventory should then occur. A transaction should be entered into your system to increase inventory for the goods you receive.

The (corrected) packing slip should be matched with the invoice to make sure everything on the invoice was received. If there is a discrepancy, it should be noted.

Items may come in a later shipment if they have been back-ordered. You’ll need to set up a process for that, noting it on the appropriate documents.


As you can see, a couple of processes need to be put into place. There should be a process for each document listed above. There should also be a process for matching the documents, and there should be a process for when there are discrepancies. Last, there should be approval processes all along the way.

Your workflow may vary from the one listed above, depending on the order the documents are received and when payment is required. You may even have a different workflow for different vendors.

Once the purchase order, shipping document, and invoice have been matched and corrected, it’s time to get them approved for payment by the appropriate level of management that you desire. This is something you’ll want to set up in advance: which of your employees can spend and approve what amounts.


Once your invoice is approved, it is time to look at the payment terms, noting when payment is due. It can then be set up to be paid. This can be done inside a system, using a company credit card, sending a bank transfer or wire, or writing, signing, and mailing a manual check.

Payment affects your books as well, so an entry should be made when payment is issued.


A great accounts payable workflow will protect your company from unauthorized payments, missing items, and even hasty purchasing decisions. There are also many accounts payable systems to support the automation of many of the steps, but don’t forget you still need to set up the processes so they work for your company and the vendors you use.

As always, if you need our recommendations, we’d be happy to help.