Category Archives: Career

Failure is Feedback: Part 3

Failure is Feedback: Part 3 by Howard Lipset, CPAFailure is a stepping stone towards success. But the information that you gather only has power when it is applied to real life situations. Failure is Feedback when you can learn different lessons from the failure, which puts you on your way to success.  Continue reading

Failure is Feedback

Failure is Feedback by Howard LipsetFailure is a stepping stone towards success. But the information that you gather only has power when it is applied to real life situations. Failure is feedback when you can learn different lessons from the failure, and that puts you on your way to success.

It is easy to feel like a failure when something does not work out.

It is a first instinct to feel disappointed when your project or start-up fails.

At that moment, you could care less about feedback from failure. Continue reading

The Inherent Inefficiency of Government Bureaucracy

The Inherent Inefficiency of  Government Bureaucracy - Howard Lipset, CPAThere are few who will disagree with the fact that, in recent years, the governmental bureaucracy has grown dramatically while its efficiency has deteriorated in an equally dramatic manner.

From 1952 to 1972, the cost of the public payroll multiplied more than fourfold, from $35 billion to $150 billion. The 330% increase over that period exceeds the 247% growth of employee compensation in private industries ($161 billion to $557 billion). In 1952, the average worker in private employment earned 5% more than his counterpart in government. By 1972, he had fallen 10% behind. Continue reading

How Congress Writes Laws to Guarantee There Will Be Lawsuits

Now, do not get me wrong.  This is not a knock at the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  It is a reminder of how badly Congress writes laws and then allows an incompetent bureaucracy to administer and enforce them.

When George Bush signed the ADA, he might have thought that most of the discrimination complaints would come from those who were deaf or blind or wheelchair bound.  However, the most claims come from those claiming back problems (the tort lawyer’s dream come true).

Nor could he have imagined that the definition of disability under the law is so broadly interpreted as to include drug and alcohol abusers.

Then, since Congress did not properly define a mental illness (schizophrenia, manic depression, severe depression obsessive compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder), Bill Clinton’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has so broadly interpreted the law that the following disorders now constitute a mental illness and this is how the employer might be required to deal with it.

Narcissistic personality disorder: Give the employee a mirror so they can look at themselves all day.

Sex addiction: Watch porno films during a coffee break.

Here is another, equally ludicrous, possibility.  An individual with a sex addiction, who can not be fired under ADA, is also a sexual harasser and creates another type of discrimination lawsuit against the company.

The EEOC advises employers that they should be understanding of workers who are chronically late, who exercise poor judgment or who display hostility to fellow workers –because those traits may be linked to mental impairment. Here is an act that is no longer a possibility, it is a reality.

This type of unreasonable mandate creates unproductive businesses and puts our country in a position where we can only compete worldwide in the lawsuit category.

Kissing Your Employer Goodbye

In an article in Black Enterprise Magazine, Robyn Clarke, in her article “Kissing Your Employer Goodbye” writes: “If you are not careful, sudden changes in your behavior can give away your secret before you make your intentions public.”

I was then quoted in her article: “Howard Lipset, President and CEO of New York City-based Progressive Management Inc., has identified seven common ‘I’m leaving’ behaviors you’ll want to avoid:

  1. Wearing suits when khakis and polo shirts are your habit,
  2. Taking spur of the moment trips to the doctor or dentist,
  3. Taking your attache when you are just running out to get lunch,
  4. Transforming your workplace from trademark slovenly to spic-and-span,
  5. Showing your emotions – namely hostility, giddiness or apathy- to your coworkers or boss,
  6. Going from high achiever to slacker, and
  7. Constantly working on your computer and hogging the departmental printer.”

Have you noticed anyone on your staff doing any of this behavior recently? Have you done so in the past; were you kissing your employer goodbye?

The IRS and Their “Do Right” Department

These are tough economic times for everybody.  But when you owe the Internal Revenue Service money, this is especially so.  I thought I would share some advice with you.

Howard Lipset - The IRS and Their “Do Right” Department I have a client who has been on a pay-out with the IRS for a number of years.  The effect of the pay-out is that he has paid his tax for the year involved, but now owes the penalty and interest for that year.

Nine months ago, he lost his job and he has court ordered payments which leaves him nothing to pay the IRS with.  I wrote to the IRS explaining the situation and asking for the penalties and interest to be expunged.

They ignored my letter and instead, sent a notice of lien, which implied that he violated their agreement.  They ignored subsequent letters that I wrote as well.  I had to take this further and did.

If you find yourself in this situation, as my client did, where the IRS is not listening to you,  be advised there is a Taxpayers Advocates Office within the IRS.   I got resolution through this process.

They have a Form 911 which allows the Advocates Office to step in and try and remedy the situation.

It’s been several weeks since I contacted this Office.  Today, I was informed that not only did I get the current penalties and interest forgiven, but I also received a refund for my client for prior penalties and interest that were previously paid as well.

Do Right or Due Rights?  Doesn’t matter, the problem was handled.

Our government and its affiliated agencies can be big, bureaucratic, and scary to any individual or small business.  But, when you look hard and have the right advice, these too can be navigated so that you can be heard and your problems handled.

Budgets and Capitalization

You have a dream.  Your own business.  You understand how to run the day to day operations, how to market it, how to interact with and sell the customers.

It would be a shame if your dream never got off the ground because you did not understand the financial reality of making it all happen.  Yet that is what happens to the vast majority of start up businesses in this country every year.  They die in the womb.  Or from Sudden Instant Death Syndrome.

You know that you have started with an entity that limits your liability.  You have heard that you should never sign personally for a corporate debt.  But the reality is that unless you are going to give ownership of your company to a lender, no one is going to lend to your new corporation without your personal guarantee, and that guarantee has to be worth what you will be borrowing.  In order to succeed you will need the resources to sustain your business and yourself through the start up stages and into profitability.

Note that I included yourself in the equation.  Another important aspect is time.  Budget wise what is your business overhead going to be per month.  Add to that your personal overhead.  That is what you will need monthly to survive.  Now, how long will it take you to sell enough to break even against that total monthly overhead?  8 months?  One year?  Multiply your monthly overhead by the number of months required to break even and that is your capital requirement.

If you do not have clear access to your capital requirement, you may want to re-think your current entrepreneurial desires.

And, don’t forget to add contingencies for problems.  In the real world, if something can go wrong, it will.

In developing a budget, you have to know about all of the expenses.  Especially, the ones that the Federal, State and Local Governments will require you to spend.  Taxes.  Insurances.  Permits.  Ways you will have to comply to do business.  Even if you do not want to.