I question the extraordinary emphasis given to a remark attributed to Richard Thalheimer, president of the Sharper Image. " 'I walked into Price Waterhouse one day,' he remembers, 'and I saw one of the new accountants reading Accounting Standards. He had the book opened to the chapter entitled "Inventory," and he was reading the first sentence. I thought to myself, Why do I need to pay all this money for someone who is still reading his business right out of a book?" This quote was featured in the body copy and in a headline treatment.

Have any of you ever been to a law office library or a hospital library and noticed how lawyers and doctors spend some of their time? Would you want it otherwise? Even Joe Gibbs, coach of the Washington Redskins, reviews his playbook before each game.

Accounting is a learned profession that requires time spent on research. According to a recent report by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, accountants ought to spend more than 90 hours a year to keep current on "Generally Accepted Accounting Principles."

I am proud to say that practitioners of CPS, our comprehensive professional service methodology for small businesses and entrepreneurs at Price Waterhouse, make a major commitment each year to continuing education so that they have the foundation from which to be innovative based on knowledge. This is the key to our ability to help smaller businesses and entrepreneurs succeed -- and at an affordable price -- in a market that doesn't reward those that haven't done their homework.