Hot Biz How-To ... E-commerce and accounting

Jun 30, 2013
Hot Biz How-To ... E-commerce and accounting
L-R: Salomonsky, Dodson Anderson, Amorosso

Accounting and e-commerce are two of the fastest-growing sectors for small businesses.

From tax preparation to bookkeeping, the accounting industry had the second-highest profit margin (21.2 percent) in the last year, according to a May Sageworks report. E-commerce is expected to outpace sales at brick-and-mortar stores in the near future, reaching $370 billion (10 percent of all U.S. retail sales) by 2017, says Forrester Research.

Whether you're a jeweler like Ben Salomonsky, involved in an accounting firm like Edward Amorosso, or operating a retail shop such as Alison Dodson Anderson does, the successes, challenges and business know-how come from a daily learning curve.

Each of these business-savvy individuals shared some of their knowledge on how the endeavors they're involved in are not only surviving, but thriving.


Ben Salomonsky, a gemologist and jewelry designer who has been in the business his entire life, jokingly noted that his late father did not read the child labor laws.

"I'm a third-generation jeweler," said Salomonsky, of Virginia Beach.

His grandfather's trade and manufacturing shop was established in 1908. Ben went out on his own in 1986 to market his own designs and to bring the work of new designers to the area.

When Salomonsky became a single father in 2001, the brick-and- mortar entity no longer meshed with his lifestyle. Shortly after, he delved into Internet sales. His website is The rest, as they say, is history.

Why did you choose this field?

I chose the carriage trade jewelry e-commerce field because it is what I know. A budding Internet entrepreneur should no more enter into e-commerce with a product/service about which they know very little any more than they should if they are opening a traditional establishment.

How has your business grown?

To be succinct, e-business was good before 2008, and went into the same declines as was the case with most enterprises, after the world financial crisis. We are starting to come out of it - slowly. This year is better than last year, and many more people are asking questions, again.

If you are small, pick one social media, work it consistently and work it well. It must tell the viewer that you are still alive and well, are here to serve them, and most importantly - to direct them to your e-store. Never give up.

Describe an industry-specific challenge and what you do to remedy it.

The current challenges are that clients need everything, yesterday. It is the nanosecond mentality.

For the most part, I work from archived photographs of my designs. That is cost-effective to me, and as is the case with many, I have to be cost-effective. As previously mentioned, that is the beauty of e-commerce. You click, you pay, I fabricate, I send. The challenge is to always pay attention to the economy, social behavior and fashion trends. All of those factors change very quickly. The days of a store staying the same for a decade, and still appearing "fresh" are over.

Listen to the voice of experience

'Cause I'm the tax man ...

McPhillips, Roberts & Deans PLC was started in 1972 by J. Vincent McPhillips and Edward L. Lieland Jr. Both men began their accounting careers in the 1950s with Hilton, Sheffield and Hilton, one of Norfolk's oldest and most respected CPA firms.

The firm provides audit, tax and consulting services to businesses, nonprofit organizations, individuals, estates and trusts.

Employing more than 65 professionals, including 12 partners, the firm delivers long-term strategies designed to capitalize on existing and emerging opportunities in its clients' markets.

Its portfolio includes an array of industries such as government contracting and construction, health care, automotive dealerships, nonprofit, real estate and hospitality, retail, manufacturing and wholesale.

Edward Amorosso, CEO, said unbreakable trust has been the one guiding factor to the firm's success and longevity.

Why did you choose this field?

When I was in college, I wanted to pursue a business degree and recognized that public accounting offered a wide range of career opportunities. Undoubtedly, the most rewarding aspect of my work is the opportunity to help clients and employees achieve their goals.

Over the years, it has been extremely rewarding to witness the long-term growth and success of the firm's clients and employees.

How has your business grown?

The firm has grown to one of the largest public accounting firms in the region. In 1972, the firm started with two people and we now have a team of 65. Over the past 11 years, our revenues have almost tripled.

Describe an industry-specific challenge and what you do to remedy it.

Our industry's biggest challenge is helping clients manage the increasingly complex regulatory environment of the federal tax code and financial accounting standards. We have addressed these challenges by requiring our team members to specialize their practice in industry-specific areas. This specialization has allowed us to stay current with the regulatory changes in our profession.

With the increasing regulatory environment, and as our clients pursue overseas growth and opportunities, we decided to become an independent member of the BDO alliance three years ago. BDO is the fifth largest accounting organization worldwide. As a member of the alliance, we can offer the resources of a global organization yet maintain the level of service one would expect from a locally owned, independent firm.


For Alison Dodson Anderson, the progression to add an online store to her brick-and-mortar shop was a natural one - in time.

Dodson Anderson opened A. Dodson's at 2948 Bridge Road in Suffolk, just two miles north of Harbour View 10 years ago. The retail shop is known for fashion, home decor and gifts.

The online store - at - came into fruition five years ago.

Retail is in Dodson Anderson's blood. Her grandparents owned Kirchmiers, a general store on Portsmouth Boulevard at Dock Landing Road in Chesapeake, and her mother, Alice Dodson, operated Once Upon a Time Antiques where A. Dodson's is located today.

"Online shopping has become an experience of its own in large part due to social sharing such as Facebook and Pinterest," Dodson Anderson said. "The ability to compare prices and expect delivery within a few days makes online shopping an attractive option for many people."

Why did you choose this field?

I followed in the footsteps of my grandparents who had a general store and my mother who had her own antique shop.

How has your business grown?

The business started with just me. Now, 10 years later, we have a director of marketing and e-commerce, a director of merchandising, a retail manager, a dedicated e-commerce shipping staff and an internship program that allows young people interested in a career in marketing or merchandising the ability to earn on-the-job training while gaining real-world experience.

Describe an industry-specific challenge and what you do to remedy it.

We face challenges daily - it keeps us on our toes. But most challenges turn out to be better solutions in disguise. Of course a challenge every retailer faced came in 2008 with the economic changes. Inventories have had to be tight since then and we've all had to get even more creative.

Having a husband in financial services is a big help when looking at buys for upcoming quarters and seasons. But more important than anything is to know your customers, your competitors and how to look for trends.

"Hot Biz How-To" offers insights from local entrepreneurs in the hottest industries for small businesses.