A lot of companies are sweating it out right now, since this is the year that smaller public companies are required to meet compliance. And compliance to the so-called SOX Act, passed by Congress back in 2002 in the wake of the Enron scandal and designed to protect investors by requriing greater transparency and internal controls in financial reporting, doesn't come cheap. Average costs for smaller companies is around $500,000. For the big guys costs run into the millions.

There is good news on this front for small companies who've gone public (or perhaps hoping to go public someday). The SEC is making noise it mighten relax those rules a bit. There's a good little write-up about it on the Wharton site. Additionally, there's a bipartisan bill called the Sarbanes-Oxley Small Busines Reform Package kicking around Congress right now that you may want to keep an eye on.