Smith Dickson, An Accountancy Corporation 

November 2014


Businesses are always looking for ways to get an edge on the competition and to increase revenues. Most are interested in finding out how they can achieve sustained dominance and differentiation in their industry.


We recently had an opportunity to listen to a speaker, Frances Frei, who raised a number of thought-provoking concepts on how to do so (disclaimer: Smith Dickson has no affiliation with this speaker and we do not necessarily support or recommend her strategies; we just think she is interesting!).  Four of the key points were: 


  1. In order to be great, you have to be bad. By that she means that in order to win in some dimensions you have to be not as good in others; you can't be good at everything. Trying to be the best at everything leads to mediocrity. So, consider trying to be the best in class at what is most important to your customers, while perhaps worst in class in things that are least important.
  2. It costs money to deliver excellence. Sustainable excellence requires investment of money and time. For example, don't think that you can get away with investing in your customer service and marketing for only a short time until revenues improve, then decrease your efforts. It will backfire on you over the long-term.
  3. Set up your employees for success. Design jobs for your actual team members, not the ideal team member. Also, realize that it is difficult to have employees who are stars in all areas, for example a great attitude and great aptitude; for those employees who interact with customers, choose what attributes are most important to your customers.
  4. Manage and train your customers. This isn't manipulation, it is building the proper expectations and delivering upon them. Your customers will like you more for it.  


See a short video on these topics.  If you have some concepts that you'd like to share, let us know!



While we're on the train of thought-provoking concepts, here are some for personal consideration from an online author, Mark Manson (again, Smith Dickson has no affiliation with this author and we do not necessarily support or recommend his points).  He put together a series of questions to help you figure out for yourself what is important to you and what can add more meaning to your life:

When people say, "What should I do with my life?" or "What is my life purpose?" what they're actually asking is: "What can I do with my time that is important?"  


  1. What's your favorite flavor of manure sandwich and does it come with an olive? Everything involves sacrifice. Everything includes some sort of cost. Nothing is pleasurable or uplifting all of the time.
  2. What is true about you today that would make your 8-year old self cry? We all have a tendency to lose touch with what we loved as a child. Something about the social pressures of adolescence and professional pressures of young adulthood squeezes the passion out of us. We're taught that the only reason to do something is if we're somehow rewarded for it.
  3. What makes you forget to eat? Don't just look at the activities that keep you up all night, but look at the cognitive principles behind those activities that enthrall you. Because they can easily be applied elsewhere.
  4. How can you better embarrass yourself? Right now, there's something you want to do, something you think about doing, something you fantasize about doing, yet you don't do it. Why?
  5. How are you going to save the world? Find a problem you care about and start solving it. Obviously, you're not going to fix the world's problems by yourself. But you can contribute and make a difference.
  6. Gun to your head, if you had to leave the house all day, every day, where would you go and what would you do? For many of us, the enemy is just old-fashioned complacency. We get into our routines. We distract ourselves. The couch is comfortable. And nothing new happens. If it strikes your fancy, write down a few answers and then, you know, go out and actually do them.
  7. If you knew you were going to die one year from today, what would you do and how would you want to be remembered? Thinking about our own death surprisingly has a lot of practical advantages. One of those advantages is that it forces us to zero in on what's actually important in our lives and what's just frivolous and distracting. 


Well, these certainly aren't the questions we accountants would have asked. But they do give us pause to think about them!



Smith Dickson is pleased to provide our year-round "Tax Calendar" available on our website.  Reference it for key dates for individuals, businesses (of all types), employers and estates/fiduciaries.


Some of the key dates for December include: 

  • Dec 15 2014 - Corporations. Tax installment due,
  • Dec 15 2014 - Employers. Deposit withholding due.
  • Dec 31 2014 - Q4 Individual estimated tax payment (fourth quarter individual estimated tax is not due until  01/15/14 but often times you may want these paid by year-end for the state deduction, if not in Alternative Minimum Tax situation).

As 2014 draws to a close, there is still time to minimize your 2014 taxes and plan ahead for 2015. At Smith Dickson, we can determine a specific plan to maximize your tax savings when we meet with you.  Be sure to contact us to set-up a year-end tax planning meeting or to discuss your tax questions and needs.





Smith Dickson is a full-service Southern California CPA firm that specializes in providing high-quality services designed to create long-term value for our clients. Our services include accounting, tax compliance and planning, litigation support, business consulting and estate/trust tax compliance. Please contact us with your questions.


Smith Dickson, An Accountancy Corporation | 18100 Von Karman Avenue | Suite 420 | Irvine | CA | 92612