Posts by Michaela McGinn, CPA, Director of Assurance Services:
Setting up internal controls in your small or midsized business is no easy task. It can be very time confusing, plus running the day-to-day operations always takes priority. I recently spoke with Smart Business to discuss what businesses and organizations with limited resources can do to implement internal controls.
If I handed you a briefcase of $100,000 and said, ‘Here hold this for me,’ would you be OK with that? … [What] if it was $500,000 or $1 million? That’s what you’re doing when you give full access to information and resources with no one monitoring it.”
To find out what your organization can do now and read the full article, visit Smart Business’s website or check out some of the articles below.
By Michaela McGinn, CPA (Dublin office)
Want to learn more about internal controls for your business? Check out these articles:
You’ve probably heard about how critical it is to establish internal controls throughout your business. But if you happen to own a small or midsize company, you may have dismissed this best practice in favor of maintaining your daily operations, optimizing customer service and streamlining your growth initiative. While running a successful business greatly depends on your ability to manage a variety of responsibilities, don’t let yourself become complacent when it comes to protecting your lifework from fraudulent activity. The mistake of ignoring the importance of internal controls in your business could end up costing you greatly.
Who’s Watching Your Money?
Would you be comfortable asking someone to watch a briefcase full of your cash, say $100,000? What if it held $500,000 or $1 million? Are you confident that your money would be there when you returned? Believe it or not, that’s essentially what you are doing every day when you run your business without internal controls – you are willingly handing over full access to your most valuable asset.
How To Address Your Internal Control Needs
Even if you don’t have the resources to implement a comprehensive internal control structure, there are still options available that can effectively provide your business with a level of oversight. Before you get started, be sure to consider the difference between preventative controls and detective controls.
As the owner of a small- to midsize-business, you may want to consider implementing a strategy that takes advantage of detective controls, which are typically put in place for the purpose of reviewing data for human error while ensuring that your assets remain secure. One example of this type of control is when, after your accounts have been reconciled, a reconciliation review is conducted to ensure accuracy.
Because of their size, smaller companies are more likely to give a few individuals full access to their business’s funds. These employees are often in charge of making deposits, issuing checks, managing payroll and performing monthly bank reconciliations. Enacting detective controls will not only provide you with the peace of mind you need, it may help take weight off of the shoulders of a trustworthy employee who would rather not have their trust questioned.
Preventative controls, on the other hand, are established by companies seeking to ensure that something doesn’t happen in advance. An example of a preventative control is when transaction limits and segregation of duties are established. This type of control can be very effective, but are oftentimes more difficult for smaller companies to establish due to the lack of resources they can commit to such a strategy.
10 Ways To Implement Internal Controls In Your Business
- Document and re-evaluate your operational processes (at least) annually.
- Make sure that more than one employee is familiar with your company’s operational processes to protect your business against unforeseeable circumstances, such as sickness, job loss or death.
- Conduct monthly reconciliations of key accounts (i.e. receivables, cash, inventory, payables, payroll costs, etc.) Then have these monthly reconciliations independently reviewed.
- Implement an approval process for employee spending.
- Establish transaction limits.
- Restrict access to your company’s general ledger to only a few key individuals.
- Review your vendor lists to ensure that they are current and accurate.
- Assign someone to review standard and nonstandard journal entries.
- Form a policy for creating credit limits for customers – and review it regularly.
- Review whether there are other areas unique to your business where employees may be able to manipulate information and identify how to monitor them.
Putting internal controls to work in your business doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task and you don’t necessarily need to beef up your workforce to get started. Start by simply picking a few key controls that can be easily woven into your daily or monthly processes and begin implementing a few changes at a time. Before you know it, aspects of your internal control strategy will become so commonplace that you may begin to wonder how you ever got by without them.
Email Rea & Associates to learn more about the benefits of an internal control strategy.
By Michaela McGinn, CPA (Dublin office)
Every day we encounter people for a wide variety of reasons. You could be at the supermarket, or perhaps you’re standing in line for your latte. Or maybe you’re at a local Rotary lunch. Do you ever find yourself looking for business opportunities in the mundane routines in life? Good business people are constantly asking themselves the question “where will tomorrow’s business come from?”
Every Encounter Counts
Every contact you make is a potential opportunity to grow your business. And networking is a critical part of that process. But, what many individuals fail to understand is how a network works. Let’s take the engineering of a bridge for example. A bridge is not constructed through a two-point or three-point connection. The strongest bridges are constructed through a complex network of materials with overlapping points of contact. Those bridges span large areas and allow you to get from one place to another.
Professional networks are similar to a bridge’s network. The best networks are an overlapping of personal and professional lives. They interconnect at many points. The person you meet tomorrow at your child’s school play may not be a client for you, but you may introduce them to someone that can help them and that connection you have provided can then be used for another point of contact.
Networking In Motion
In a couple weeks, I’ll be having breakfast with a former colleague who has just returned to my neighborhood from the West coast. Chances are I won’t have an opportunity to provide services to him in the near future, but by reconnecting, I’m someone he’ll remember. Perhaps he may come across someone who needs services that I can provide.
This whole idea of networking and building bridges may seem like common sense, but it can be so easy to get caught up in the daily routine of life that it can quickly be forgotten. Next time you’re at your son’s baseball game, don’t miss any opportunities to connect with other baseball fans who could be your next customer.
Need Help In Growing Your Business?
If networking doesn’t come naturally to you or you’re unsure about how to grow your business, contact Rea & Associates. Our Ohio business consultants can help you evaluate where you’re at currently and help you determine what you need to do moving forward.
Author: Michaela McGinn, CPA (Dublin office)
Looking for more blog posts on how to grow your business? Check these out:
Let’s face it—opinions matter. We all like to be asked for our opinion. And more often than not, opinions help shape decisions and the direction that a group of people may take. Read the rest of this entry “