There are basic business principles we all recognize. Cash is king. Buy low, sell high. But as simple as these concepts sound, we also recognize how difficult they can be to execute.

A CPA has the unique perspective of seeing the company from all angles and at a deep level of detail, sometimes finding little changes that can make a big impact.

As a follow-up to our March 2011 newsletter, Looking Beyond the Numbers, we are pleased to share stories from food executives about the best advice they have received from their CPAs.

From scoping accounting projects to managing cash flow, here are some tips uncovered by CPAs for food executives.

Scope of an Audit – What do I need right now?
Many executives eventually find themselves contemplating a transaction (e.g. merger, financing, or venture capital investment) that requires a third-party to review their financial documents. As they request proposals, questions arise. Do I need a full audit? How many years back need to be inspected? What type of information is critical for my transaction? Are my key business ratios trending up or staying flat?

A good CPA will guide the executive through the process to help them save money on the audit. Joe Bratter, President and owner of Bratter Enterprises, LLC shares, “If you are not required to perform an audit, don’t. There are always alternatives in the financial market – inquire about and pursue these alternatives.”

In some cases, a CPA can recommend alternatives to a full audit, such as a financial statement review or balance sheet audit. Also, they can recommend how far back you need to review to meet your lenders’ or investors’ requirements. Finally, they can help you determine timing of services, perhaps postponing more costly services until they are actually needed.

Which updates in tax legislation are relevant to my business?
With economic pressures on food supplies, warehousing and shipping, many executives are seeking ways to save money through their taxes.

New tax credits and deductions seem to appear and change every year. Navigating the path between compliance and strategic tax planning can be daunting to even the savviest CFO.