As an entrepreneur and business owner, you know there’s more to your success than simply being passionate about your product. After you put your team together and start putting out products, you realize pretty quickly that you need to do some more complicated business management tasks – like accounting. If you’re the type of business owner that knows the power of delegating, you hire a professional, either to work for you as part of the company, or as a vendor. But how can you get the most out of their service (without abusing them)?
Consult With Them – Year Round
Though many limit their interactions with their account to tax time, your business will be much healthier if you confer with them frequently. While you likely (hopefully) have an idea of where you stand financially, your accountant knows exactly where there’s extra money, and which projects are stretching you thin.
Involve your accountant in decisions that require a commitment of a significant amount of capital, as well as when opportunities for beneficial situations arise – such as philanthropic or charitable donations are requested, attractive real estate is being considered, or a staff expansion is being evaluated.
Never “Smile & Nod” Unless You Really Understand
It’s not uncommon to be daunted by numbers, but as a business owner, you’ll just have to get over your fear of math. When you’re working with your accountant, make sure you ask every question you have. Ask for written explanations of your financial data that you can review later – and so you never have to utter the words “they explained this way better than I can” to a stakeholder again.
Your accountant wants you to feel in control of your finances, but they’re not telepathic. Just as you would with your doctor, make sure you keep asking questions until you know how to achieve the results you need to be healthy and stable.
Give Them Access
While in the past, accountants would charge by the hour to “do the books,” if your business is on the cloud, your accountant will be able to see the day to day purchases and trends. The more access you give your accountant, the more equipped they’ll be to advise your business.
It’s important to remember that your accountant can do more than tell you if you’re in the red or the black – they have an extremely intimate understanding of how your company spends its money, and will likely recognize trends before anyone else. They can compare income to spending of various departments, rent to average employee salary after a big move, and more. If you aren’t consulting your accountant about your business in general, you’re likely missing out on key insights.
If you hire a contract or agency accountant, don’t be shy about asking them for referrals for other services. It’s very likely that they’ll be able to point you in the direction of other advisory professionals, from legal counsel to partner companies in foreign markets. If you’re lucky, they may even be able to point you towards your next client.
Start Talking About Taxes Early
Yes, your accountant can do your taxes if you provide them access, but it’s important that as a business owner you understand the process. Discuss tax laws, incentives, fees and regulations early and often. It’s likely that they’ll weigh heavily on more decisions than you may think – especially when it comes to overseas relations.
With the new presidential administration, along with the flurry of government activity, 2017 will likely be a year of massive changes in business regulation and protocol. Ensuring that you have a healthy and trusting relationship with your accountant will be an important step in making sure your business survives the turbulence.