Corrections or additions?
These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring were prepared for the
April 18, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
NJAWBO Conference 2001
If you work 40 hours a week for somebody else, that’s
okay, but if you work 50 hours a week, maybe you should be working
for yourself." So says Margery S. Davidson, owner of two
businesses, and daughter, spouse, mother, and sister of entrepreneurs.
In addition to running her own accounting practice plus a consulting
enterprise known as Business Development Team Inc., both of Aberdeen,
Davidson is an enthusiastic member of NJAWBO, the New Jersey
of Women Business Owners. "When I went to my first meeting, I
saw a room full of women, all business owners, and I said `This is
where I have to be.’" As an accountant, Davidson says her
tend to be men. "I didn’t know women business owners, except
she says, "and there’s a difference. With clients, there are areas
you just don’t touch."
Davidson conducts business training seminars for NJAWBO and is the
organization’s incoming vice president of finance. She speaks on
Time for Your Business to Grow Up" and "Profit Focus"
at the organization’s conference, which runs from Wednesday, April
25, at 3 p.m. through Friday, April 27, at the Doral Forrestal. Cost:
$750, including room and meals. Call 732-560-9607.
A member of NJAWBO for five years, Davidson says the best part of
the experience for her comes as members sit around the table at
dinners. "Any question or concern, there’s always someone who
has just hired a first employee, or is looking for insurance."
Beyond informal advice, she finds the organization provides rich
for acquiring — and selling — services. "When I opened
Davidson’s Business Development, within hours I had a logo, printing,
a website, five different things. I just called these women."
She also recommends NJAWBO contacts to her clients. She likes the
idea that she is able to suggest a whole range of business services
to them from personal knowledge.
While she revels in drawing on the expertise and experience of fellow
women business owners, Davidson also has a rich background of business
savvy within her own family. When she was growing up in California,
her father owned an electrical contracting business. Her brother owns
an automatic transmission business in Nevada, and her sister, who
started out selling crafts from her home, now owns a California-based
bookkeeping business. Davidson’s husband, James Nelson, owned Aberdeen
Electric for many years, until he sold the company three years ago
to join her CPA firm, doing back office work and handling personal
income tax clients.
Davidson was working as a bookkeeper when it occurred to her that
she was well able to do everything the CPAs did. All she lacked was
"the piece of paper," so she went back to school to earn it.
"It was the most frightening thing I ever did in my entire
she says. Giving up the independence that goes with a paycheck was
hard, and so was walking onto campus and "looking around, trying
to find someone as old as I was."
Davidson was in her 30s then, and started her quest for a CPA at
Community College. She then transferred to Rutgers, which she found
even more intimidating. "Rutgers, that was mainly young kids,"
she says. "I heard them talking in the lunchroom: `My parents
say it’s either work or school.’ I wish I had had that ultimatum."
She persevered, starting a bookkeeping business while earning her
Rutgers accounting degree (Class of 1983). For the next two years,
she fulfilled the CPA requirement of working for a firm for two years.
During that time, she hired people to keep her business running,
at it herself on nights and weekends until she earned her CPA and
could return to it full time.
In working with clients, Davidson soon began to detect a common thread
among those who own businesses. "There so much they don’t
she says. "Simple things, like how to keep books, and what things
are tax deductible." She found herself spending a great deal of
time providing tutorials. "I started charging," she says.
"And they were willing to pay." And so another company was
born. Last year, Davidson formally broke her business development
practice away from her accounting practice. Davidson offers this
to new business owners:
of the time it doesn’t even have to do with financials," she says.
"Most times it doesn’t work out because people go into
Whether it’s a spouse, a friend, or a stranger, inviting someone to
share your business dream can be a disaster. The problem, she says,
is simple, and oh-so-human: "I want to take it one way, and you
want to take it another."
Asked how her business has avoided the pitfalls of partnership, she
reveals the second key: "There’s one boss, and that’s me."
Just one person can be in charge, she says. The job can rotate, with
each partner taking the helm for six months or a year, but for each
time period only one person should be making decisions for the
opens, its owner is working 12-hour days. That, Davidson says, is
no time to learn accounting. By contrast, "new business owners
have more time than money," she says, and need to be spending
some of that time on learning bookkeeping basics. Having seen her
fair share of shoe boxes crammed with a melange of receipts, bills,
and canceled checks, Davidson observes that total ignorance of the
financial side of running a business is rampant. The shoe box
system costs all business owners big, she says, particularly at tax
Bookkeeping is especially important for businesses with seasonal dips.
By writing down all expenses in categories and keeping track of what
checks come in when "they can know a bad season is coming,"
Davidson says. Keeping track of financials will also allow busy
to see if their businesses are growing from year to year, and by how
Davidson suggests business owners do their own bookkeeping in the
beginning, and outsource it as they reach that busy three to five
year mark. Then, when cash flow grows to a point where there is enough
for support staff, it is time to bring accounting back in-house. Even
then, however, she urges business owners to retain control over
functions. The bookkeeper should not have access to all the company’s
funds, she says, but only to the amount that is required for the
into the business, thinking `I’ll take what’s left over.’ Bad idea
on a couple of counts, Davidson says. "What’s left over is
she says. "That is what you use when you want to buy a new
Business owners who do not write themselves a paycheck often end up
resenting their company, she says. "Pay yourself, even if it’s
only $25," she says. "It feels so good to get a paycheck."
of an entrepreneurial life is a no-brainer, but she knows it is not
for everyone. When her husband decided to join her business, he sold
his electrical contracting business to her son. "He had worked
for the company for 18 years. He wanted to take it over. We thought
it would be perfect." It wasn’t. Son and grandson of entrepreneurs
that he was, the young man lasted all of three months.
Turns out, Davidson says, he wanted a paycheck every week, and when
he finished work at 5, he wanted to be really finished. It’s not that
way for business owners, she says. There are always calls to return,
and invoices to write out, and employee problems to be resolved.
a business is the job you do after you finish your job," is how
she puts it.
Under the law, should Cruella DeVil have to put up with
all that yapping from Roger and Anita’s 101 spotted hounds? That is
the question 30 to 40 youngsters will decide when they put the
owners on the stand during a Take Our Daughters to Work Day program
at the law offices of Drinker Biddle & Shanley at 105 College Road
Junior jurists preparing cases for both the dog lovers and their
antagonist will not just be daughters, though. "We thought it
was a good opportunity not just for girls, but for boys too,"
says Neil Day, the associate who volunteered to run the program.
Take Our Daughters to Work Day, celebrated at many area offices, takes
place at Drinker Biddle & Shanley on Thursday, April 26, at 9:30 a.m.
for children who are at least five years old. The event is held mainly
for employees’ children, but Day says some clients have secured
for their children to attend.
Day’s son, Cullen, at 10 months old, will not be taking part in the
mock lawsuit, but "his mom may bring him by in the afternoon."
That is when the trial takes place. Last year, Day says, most of the
firm’s attorneys stopped by to take in the action. But being an
is about more than arguing in front of a jury, and Day is including
less glamorous aspects of the career in the all-day program.
"I absolutely was not prepared for the reality of practicing
says Day, who received his J.D. from Wake Forest in 1996. "I loved
law school; I could do law school all over again." Practice is
something different, for the most part lacking intense discussions
of intricate points of law. Says Day: "You have no idea the
of your early legal career will be pushing paper."
"I try to present more than Perry Mason," says Day. To get
a rounded feel for the life of a lawyer, the children will work on
factual investigation, do a research project in the library, depose
witnesses, and prepare opening and closing statements before they
have a chance to hurl questions at Cruella. But they will indeed have
time to grill her. "These are young kids," Day says. "You
have to keep it entertaining."
to promote the "Blue Ribbon" campaign for Prevent Child
Jersey. EPIX will enclose blue ribbons in its 10,000 payroll
EPIX provides payroll administration, benefits, risk management and
human resources consulting. It serves more than 800 companies and
14,5000 companies in New Jersey. Steve Rosenthal, co-CEO of EPIX,
was honored as PCA-NJ’s person of the year last year. The custom of
wearing blue ribbons was started in Virginia 12 years ago by a
who lost her grandson to child abuse. PCA-NJ hopes to distribute
blue ribbons during its annual campaign.
Crest Corporate Center to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network.
Other fundraising for this national charity has photos with Santa
and contributions to the Miracle Home Program. A golf tournament is
Monday, May 21, at the Olde York Country Club in Chesterfield.
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