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Green Light Accounting

In: Business and Management

Submitted By not2quick
Words 4688
Pages 19
Greenlight Accounting, LLC

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Executive Summary

Thorough documentation for individual and small firms is an essential element in financial record keeping and tax filing. Personal income from investments, land, compensations, employment, dividends, and interest can sometimes be an over burdensome task for an individual or family to manage and keep track with throughout the year. For businesses, it’s imperative all transactions be logged with accurate bookkeeping and that taxes stay filed in a timely manner to ensure the efficiency of the organization remains intact. Greenlight Accounting is that face-to-face, personal touch and military friendly accounting firm ready to assist with the most miniscule task associated in the process for all Federal, State and local compliances at low affordable and comparable rates. Expanding this one step further is the benefit of green accounting, which is also a service we will be providing, but one that is considered fairly new to the business world, as well as the accounting arena.

Table of Contents

I. Background and Green Marketing Product Strategy 4

II. Objectives, Pricing, and Goals 5

III. Strategic Plan 5

IV. Marketing Strategy 7

V. Competitive Analysis 9

VI. Customer Analysis 10

VII. Selling Tactics 10

VIII. Evaluation 11

IX. Conclusion 11

References 12

Background and Green Marketing Product Strategy

Greenlight Accounting is a start-up organization based in Grand Forks, ND that caters to small firms, self-employment/home businesses and military members. The owners are comprised of three retired military members, all of which have over 20+ years each in management and accounting experience and one with experience in green accounting. All are versed in the unique challenges and circumstances our service members endear on a continuous basis such as different state taxes other than the state they reside, tax-exclusion and deployment extensions. The team is also comfortable and experienced in managing multi-million dollar accounts in very complex environments, making for an easy transition to any small business’ accounting needs. Green accounting is a concept that is still being introduced to the industry and we are going to take advantage of the experience we have in marketing this unique service. Green accounting is a term used to describe accounting practices which attempt to factor environmental costs into the financial results of a company’s operations. Our green accounting practices will aim to reduce a company’s consumption of natural resources. Some companies focus on using less paper and many support their employees in telecommuting, which saves time, uses smaller quantities of natural resources, and produces less environmental pollution. Green accounting is a growing movement that has the backing not only of environmentalists, but some top global corporations. To greatly simplify it, green accounting puts a dollar value on natural resources in order for business and political leaders to make more informed decisions. Our services will include support for developing and improving environmental management systems for the purpose of acquiring ISO 14001 certification, weighing environmental costs and effects, developing and improving environmental accounting practices used in internal management activities, preparing environmental, sustainability and social reports, third party audits and compliance with the Kyoto Protocol (Morphy, 2012). Growing pressures on the environment and increasing worldwide environmental awareness have emphasized the importance of having company’s attempt to accurately value and account for their assorted environmental and natural resources, as a means of formulating appropriate and sustainable economic, trade and social policies. Firms and companies can be environmentally friendly and also save or earn money in several ways. Many business can gain by having a green design and construction that can save energy and buffer the bottom line in the following ways: Earn tax breaks and rebates; lower construction costs; reduce or eliminate the need for heating and air-conditioning equipment and the associated costs of purchase, maintenance, and electricity; cut energy and water bills in half; and protect operating budgets from increases in energy prices (Accelero, 2013). North Dakota also offers tax incentives on income tax and property tax for green construction. Climate change and sustainability are increasingly important concerns for clients, as are energy costs. We will help organizations reduce the levels of carbon and making the firm itself greener. We will also help clients qualify for government incentives and stimulus money, including a piece of the $2.3 billion in tax credits for clean energy technology projects (North Dakota Accountants, 2013). In regards to market size, Greenlight Accounting is the only firm that caters to small businesses and individual needs and has a focus on green accounting in the state of North Dakota. While there is one competitor in the state, their niche is large corporations even though they do offer their services to both small firms and individuals and they do not offer green accounting experience. The remaining market is simply small independent accountants, none of which are nationally registered with the state. The projected rate of change or average growth rate in employment between 2010 and 2020 is 16 percent which the organization deems favourable for the future growth of the company (United States Department of Labor, 2013). The term “sustainable business practices” encompasses the environmental, economic and social impact of a company’s business practices when making business decisions. Sustainability is more than simply meeting responsibilities to society—it can create a competitive advantage for the company. Research has shown that sustainability can deliver greater shareholder value and access to capital as well as stronger performance over time. It also suggests that social and environmental responsibility is likely to pay off in a number of tangible ways. Companies can benefit from improvements in reputation, productivity, talent acquisition, employee retention and engagement, cost effectiveness, risk avoidance and mitigation, innovation and market expansion (Fegley, 2013).

II. Objectives, Pricing, and Goals

The main objective of our firm is to offer experienced services when it comes to any financial questions, investments, preparation, and taxes. Being able to offer these services at a reasonable and fair price, with a quick turnaround, and constant communication will give us a competitive advantage. Pricing of green products is critical because the majority of green products are more expensive than the conventional counterparts. A number of corporations have undertaken audits of their production processes to identify hidden environmental costs and to provide better information for pricing decisions. The average hourly rate for accountants in the Grand Forks, North Dakota area is $58,520 ($28.14 hourly). Our average rate will be $26-27 an hour depending on the workload or projects. Again, we are in the beginning stages of our firm and believe this is a reasonable price for our services (Findthebest, 2013).

Goals Greenlight Accounting’s goals include: • Providing superior service • Focus on investment and expansion • Introduce green accounting and the benefits to clients and businesses • Become military personnel’s predominately used accountants DoD wide • Remain profitable • Stay competitive with market size and growth rate

III. Strategic Plan

Mission Greenlight Accounting’s mission is to provide small businesses and individuals, to include military members, a personable and honest relationship, as well as introducing the benefits of green accounting, while simultaneously conducting accurate quality accounting and tax assistance at affordable and reasonable rates.
Core Competency and Sustainable Competitive Advantage The core competency of Greenlight Accounting is our vast array of experience we offer. To remain a sustainable company with a competitive advantage, the organization will continue to focus on what is lacking in North Dakota and surrounding areas, as well as introducing green accounting...and be a firm that you can put a face to a name. Additionally, our edge with military and the surrounding communities is our background of having been in the military and being successful during our time. This servitude is missing not only from North Dakota and their military installations, but many others around the Nation that Greenlight would like to expand to as quickly as possible. This company plans on providing a service like none other with the most accurate accounting and timely tax filing possible at the most advantageous rates.
Task Environment • Support for the development and improvement of environmental management systems: We will provide support for developing and improving environmental management systems that are designed to be used in the management of our clients' operations. • Support for the development and improvement of environmental accounting systems: We will provide support for the development and improvement of environmental accounting systems that can be used to analyze and manage costs associated with environmental measures. • Support for the development of environmental management accounting systems: We will provide support for developing methods to link environmental and financial results to put the principles of environmental management into practice. • Support for the preparation and improvement of environmental reports: We will provide support for preparing and improving environmental reports that are designed to facilitate effective and efficient communication with important stakeholders such as shareholders, clients, trading partners and employees. • Assurance service for environmental reports: Our assurance service for environmental reports will involve having fair, independent third party professionals, such as certified accountants, review the contents of the reports to assure the credibility of the information. • Support for developing measures to combat global warming: The day of the full-fledged carbon-constrained society is here, and measures to combat global warming should be incorporated in business strategies. We will provide support for developing strategic activities related to emission reductions, including energy-saving measures, and greenhouse gas strategies such as emissions trading (EY, 2013).
Promotion
The promotion of green products is an area that does not often receive the attention it should. In order to educate the community on the importance of a green environment and what it means to be environmentally friendly, as well as reduce consumer confusion, there are several steps that we need to implement: o Qualifications and disclosures should be sufficiently clear. o Environmental claims should make clear whether they apply to the product, the package, or a component of either. o Avoid implying a significant environmental benefit where the benefit is negligible. o A claim comparing the environmental attributes of one service with those of another service should make the basis for the comparison sufficiently clear and should be substantiated.
Eco-design is the creation of a product that was developed in a way that reduces environmental impacts for something in its life cycle journey from supplier inputs to product to end-of-life disposal. This concept helps customers lower their carbon footprint and related costs—benefits that can justify price premiums, drive increased market share, and strengthen customer loyalty. (Ecomark Project, n.d.)

SWOT After careful examination of our capabilities, as well as our areas of opportunities, we have identified our strengths and weaknesses through a SWOT analysis:

Strengths

• A core group of CPAs that have established solid reputations and have all of our current certifications. • Green accounting experience unlike many of our competitors. • Highly experienced staff with an increase in total billable hours. • A state-of-the-art computer system, utilizing the latest software that continues to enhance our productivity and expand our capacity. • High client retention, providing consistent referrals to the firm. • Expertise in specific vertical markets of medical/health, dental, and government industries. • Military connection by our team to help us leverage business.
Weaknesses
• Over-dependence on tax preparation work for individual and business clients, therefore a lack of diversification in our revenue sources. • Inability to generate sufficient billable hours in the off-season, based on the current capacity of our systems and full-time staff. • The lack of education in the community of green accounting efforts. • We are a small firm in comparison to Eide Bailly. This can be perceived as both as a strength and a weakness, depending how it is viewed by the client.

Opportunities • An opportunity is to combine functions to provide additional business opportunities year-round. • We have an opportunity to teach individuals and small businesses about the advantages of green accounting. • Examine recruitment initiatives -- allowing telecommuting, for example -- to build on the opportunity for swift expansion when the business ramps up. • We also have the ability to network with other small businesses to develop a market for services.
Threats
• Easy Internet-based programs simplify the process for the user and remove the need for many people to seek out specialized tax or bookkeeping services. • The larger firms represent significant competition, providing incentives that smaller companies simply do not have the means to offer, such as advance refunds. • Brand recognition is also a threat to the smaller firms.

IV. Marketing Strategy

As an accounting company opening a business in Grand Forks, North Dakota, our research has indicated that there are approximately 3,290 accountants in the state. Employment of accountants is expected to grow 16 percent from between now and 2020, which is much faster than the average growth for most other professions. Demand for thorough financial documentation is expected to increase in response to recent financial crisis and subsequent financial regulations. Accountant positions have been on the rise since 2006. Accountant positions increased 14.4% in 2006-2007, 17.7% in 2008-2009, and 16% in 2010-201. Since 2006, the profession of an Accountant has been in the top ten industries and it is projected they will remain in the top ten through 2020, as the growth is anticipated through 2020 (United States Department of Labor, 2013). The reason for the growth of accountants is due to the increasingly complex financial world and more people are needed to keep track of money. When the money is not where it is suppose to be, accountants are employed to find it or uncover the mystery behind the disappearance. Accountants also advise companies on the best ways to manage their cash. In addition, accountants are critical for an organization to follow the economic trend of globalization. A cajole, more financially intertwined world means greater demand for expertise in international trade and mergers-and-acquisitions rules. The accounting profession was impacted during the recession. The rise of accounting positions reflects both sides of the economy. When firms are downsizing, accountants are needed to minimize spending and optimize resources. However, for companies that are in recovery and aiming to excel with new profit margins, then additional accountants are clearly needed to manage the increased monetary flow (Velshi, 2011). The marketing strategy that we will use will be direct mails, trade shows, use of social media to include social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter, informational videos on You Tube about the benefits of green accounting, and memberships in financial and accounting organizations, such as the North Dakota Society of Accountants for networking purposes. The most important strategy we will be using is the World Wide Web. It will be crucial for us, as an accounting firm, to have a strong website along with a consistent branding image that extends to our social media profiles. One of the best ways to promote the content of our website is through the various social media platforms that point back to our web site. Also tied back to the internet that we will need to implement is a search engine optimization in order to increase our website inquiries (Deldoro, 2012). Furthermore, we will be utilizing highly professional and expertly written email campaigns in order to give a more personal touch. We will be putting together eye catching and informative newsletters in order to give something back to our clients and improve client referral rate. Our goal will be to saturate the market with our name. It will be important for us to create a logo design that captures the attention of people. We will use this logo on our business cards, flyers, and marketing material. There are at least three military bases in North Dakota that we plan to reach out to in order to market our service. We can utilize their Family Support Offices as a starting point. As we are retired military members, we believe this would provide us with an edge to service military members and their families. In addition, our service as accountants can move with them wherever they may be assigned. Once we have built up our business in North Dakota, we can reach out to other military installations across the United States and market our services through their Family Support Offices. Referrals and word of mouth will also be a huge marketing strategy for our business (Roulo, 2012). We will also be reaching out to small businesses to sell our accounting services and our green accounting methods. We can work with the Small Business Administration (SBA) in city and states to tap into this arena. The SBA suggests that company policies and activities be directed toward satisfying customer needs. Profitable sales volume is more important than maximum sales volume (SBA, 2013). These are excellent suggestions since we will be starting out as a small business and marketing to other small businesses. Eventually, we will obtain a General Services Administration (GSA) schedule so we have a contracting vehicle to bid on government contracts. Our accounting firm will develop strong marketing strategies by targeting certain areas throughout the Grand Forks, North Dakota area, especially the military section. Many military installations are focusing on green tactics so we will have an edge with our green accounting experience. The Defense Department is developing an energy strategy that will carry it forward for decades (Roulo, 2012). Again, we have three highly qualified and talented accountants who will handle the bulk of the work, but will hire seasonal staff members if the work load starts to exceed a certain amount. The overall mission and goals of our firm is to become one of the best accounting agencies in the area by satisfying the needs of the marketplace, creating an advantage over the competition, and obviously generating great profits. Even though our accounting firm will be new to the market, it is our goal to achieve certain levels in a projected time line (AllBusiness, 2013).

V. Competitive Analysis

Competitors fall into four primary categories: other firms, sole practitioners, licensed tax consultants and bookkeeping services, and software. There are not any accounting firms listed on the national web directory in North Dakota, which is a positive for our organization. Eide Bailly will be our largest competitor in North Dakota. The largest threat to the accounting industry in North Dakota will be new entrants and bargaining power. There are many small, individuals that have their own business, but Eide Bailly is the largest accounting corporation (Romell, 2012). This is one of the primary reasons we chose to open an office in North Dakota because the competition is limited. Eide Bailly services several industries, such as Energy and Mining; Financial Services; Health Industries; Government/Public Sector; Building, Construction, Real Estate; Manufacturing; and Non-Profit organizations. Their revenue, listed in millions, is noted below:
|Advisory Revenue |Audit Revenue |Tax Revenue |US Revenue 2012 |
|$18.24M |$68.4M |$56.24M |$152M |

The services that Eide Bailly provides are as follows: Audit Services Offered: Actuarial Insurance, Financial Accounting, Financial Statement Audit, Internal Audit, Regulatory Compliance and Reporting, and Employee Benefit Plan Audit Tax Services Offered: Business Tax, International Tax, Legal, State and Local Tax, Payroll Processing, and Tax Planning Advisory/Consulting Services Offered: Corporate Finance, Financial Risk Management, IT Advisory, Management Consulting, Risk Consulting, and Transaction Services (North Dakota Accountants, 2013).

The weaknesses of Eide Bailly were hard to locate and determine during our research. Since they are a primary contender in ND without too much competition, it is hard to find many firms to compare them to, but below is what we have discovered:

Strengths

• Employ 165 partners and 653 staff members across 22 offices in 10 states. • Top 25 CPA firm in the nation. • Currently servicing 49,000 clients. • Wide array of business services: Tax Services, Audit and Assurance, and Consulting. Auditing and Assurance is the bulk of their business. • Expertise in specific markets such as Affordable Housing, Ag Producers, and Construction/Real Estate. • Their largest presence is in ND where they were founded (Eide Bailly, 2013).
Weaknesses
• Difficulty in retaining aggressive non-partner CPAs, as they move to smaller firms that will make them partners sooner. • Lack of green accounting experience. • As a larger business, clients can feel as if they are not receiving the personal touch that smaller firms can provide. Tax Software is our largest indirect competitor. As the public becomes more comfortable with home computer technology, they are increasingly relying on tax software packages like Intuit's "Turbo Tax" and H&R Block Financials' "Tax Cut." However, for the kinds of clients we pursue, these software packages lack the nuances and prompting that yield best results. Our differentiator will be our green accounting experience, as well as the fact that we are prior military aiming to serve the military communities. This same type of thinking will help us with the small business communities, as well, because we are also a small business. However, we will still need to stay monitor the action of our competitors. We will be able to examine Eide Bailly through the news and through the accounting communities and networks. This will assist us in staying on top of what our competition is achieving or where they might be facing challenges.

VI. Customer Analysis

North Dakota has a large military presence that we are hoping to tap into in order to grow our business. Grand Forks has a population of approximately 52,631 while Minot has a population of about 42,485. Both of these locations have military bases that we will be reaching out to in order to promote our business. The median income of households in North Dakota is $45,140. Eighty-two percent of the households receive earnings and 11 percent obtain retirement income other than Social Security. Twenty-seven percent of the households collect Social Security. The average income from Social Security was $13,980. The sources of income are not limited; some households got money from multiple sources. Housing costs in North Dakota are as follows: The median monthly housing costs for mortgaged owners is $1,121, while the non-mortgaged owners are $377 and renters are $535. Twenty-two percent of owners with mortgages, 13 percent of owners without mortgages, and 40 percent of renters in North Dakota spent 30 percent or more of household income on housing (North Dakota Accountants, 2013).

VII. Selling Plans

Selling consists of two main functions: tactics and strategy. As an accounting firm, we will be selling our services via the internet and direct mail advertising. Working with other small businesses, we can partner to contract our services to potential customers. For instance, if we obtain a client and their employees travel a majority of the time as part of their job, we can offer in-home financial statement preparation for them. This strategy is a win-win for both businesses and the client. We could also host a sponsorship of accounting conferences and provide a team of consultants, business analysts and programmers to support the sale. Tactics focus on delivering a strategy using practical, real-world skills. This could be done at the start of tax season, too. We can also up-sell our additional services clients who may only utilize us for tax preparation, for instance.

VIII. Evaluation

The best method for our firm to keep a level of control is by constantly evaluating our operation internally and externally in order to find new opportunities, avoid threats, and keep performance in line. The process will be aligned with management’s expectations and solve specific problems that exist. This will also involve an internal evaluation with employee performances. In addition, we will conduct an internal audit of our corporation. Normally, a firm will conduct an internal audit every two to four years, but since our firm is in the start-up stage, we will conduct this annually until we feel more time is acceptable.
Corporate Reputation While conducting business, it is our goal to develop and maintain a great reputation in the community, regardless if it is with individual clients, families and/or businesses. We understand that developing an outstanding corporation will be predicated on our ethical standards, actions, and appearance in the public eye. The overall idea is to develop a company that appreciates and implements ethical rules and principles, solves moral or ethical problems, and employs certain special duties and obligations that apply to persons engaged in business transactions.
Organizational Involvement Where many companies suffer is where we will excel. Our involvement in the community and with our daily operations and employees will help us achieve this success. Developing relationships, offering promotions and discounts, and advertising events are methods we will utilize to give back to the community. As for the internal involvement, we shall develop an assignment of responsibility, action, guidelines, ethical codes, communication, and a great training program.
Branding
The most effective approach for a company to thrive, especially in the start-up stage, is to create a strong brand that current and potential clients can associate with our services. The main objective of our firm is to develop a brand with the company name and design. The purpose is to take our business and use the brand to facilitate these areas: - Repeat Customers. Our brand will enable customers to identify and re-identify with our services, and compare them to the competition. - Promotional Effectiveness. This will allow flexibility in the community, and be able to offer pricing and service options to our clients. - Pricing. Developing a price premium, and being able to create price differentiation, this again can be compared to the competition. - Brand Loyalty. The main objective for any firm is to develop a relationship with customers in hopes to repeat purchase. The brand loyalty creates familiarity with the customer, and creates the idea of identifying us first in the market.

IX. Conclusion

At Greenlight Accounting, we believe that our great experience and knowledge of the field and green accounting will permit us to excel in the community and be a staple for years to come. Our business plan breaks down each sector, configures the logical approach, and finally, demonstrates how we will promote our company and areas of expertise.

References

Accelero. (2013). Green accounting- a movement towards sustainability. Retrieved from http://www.accelero-corp.com/greenaccountingservices.php
AllBusiness. (2013). Small business news. Retrieved from http://www.allbusiness.com/glossaries/action-program/4962157-1.html
Deldoro, M. (2012, August). The accountant's guide to social media marketing. Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/article/from-zero-to-hero-a-millionaire-marketer-s-journey-into-social-1
Ecomark Project, (n.d., ). Green marketing manual. Retrieved from http://www.ecomarkproject.eu/userfiles/documents/Public/Green Marketing booklet/published/D5_B1 Green Marketing BOOKLET EN.pdf
Eide Bailly. (2013). Eide bailly at-a-glance. Retrieved from http://www.eidebailly.com/about-us/eide-bailly-at-a-glance/
EY. (2013). Environment & sustainability services. Retrieved from http://www.ey.com/JP/en/Services/Assurance/Environment-Sustainability
Fegley, S. (2013, February). Sustainable workplace practices. Retrieved from http://www.shrm.org/research/surveyfindings/articles/pages/sustainable-workplace-practices.aspx
Findthebest. (2013). Compare grand forks north dakota salary and wages. Retrieved from http://salaries-by-city.findthedata.org/d/a/North-Dakota/Grand-Forks
Morphy, E. (2012, October). Green accounting: A greener bottom line? Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikamorphy/2012/10/07/green-accounting-a-greener-bottom-line/
North Dakota Accountants, (2013). CPA, accounting firms in North Dakota, nd tax accountants. Retrieved from http://www.accountantsandcpafirms.com/north-dakota-accounting/
Romell, R. (2012, January). Wipfli to merge with North Dakota accounting firm. Retrieved from http://www.jsonline.com/business/wipfli-merges-with-minneapolis-accounting-firm-73mvmn-136820643.html
Roulo, C. (2012, October). Dod develops energy strategy for future force. Retrieved from http://www.defense.gov/News/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=118241
SBA. (2013). Marketing 101. Retrieved from http://www.sba.gov/content/marketing-101
United States Department of Labor. (2013). Occupational employment and wages, may 2012: accountants and auditors. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132011.htm
Velshi, A. (2011, January). Todays 'it' jobs: Accounting and it. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2011/01/06/pf/jobs/fastest_growing_professions.moneymag/idex.htm

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