Ways you didn’t know your accountant could help you
While an accountant is often your best bet for pocketing maximum returns at tax time and can offer you peace of mind that you’re fulfilling your statutory obligations, in an ideal scenario, they can also act as a trusted business adviser and use their expertise and foresight to grow your business.
Your accountant can offer much more than just a tax return
If you are only speaking to your accountant at tax time, it’s safe to assume you are not optimally utilising their expertise. “A lot of people just go to the accountant once a year for that end-of-year tax return so the advice that can be given at that point is fairly limited,”
Your accountant can set the direction for your business
To truly leverage your accountant’s expertise, Sweeney suggests you ideally engage them when you’re setting up a business so they can align strategic advice with your specific goals. “Right from the beginning, we’d be looking at why [a client is] looking at starting up a business. What do they want to achieve, and what does that business need to do for them?”
Your accountant can help you implement your business goals
In an ongoing advisory capacity, a good accountant will contact you regularly to monitor how your plan is being implemented, and in turn Sweeney encourages business owners to frequently check in for advice.
Your accountant can keep you answerable to your business plans
Consistent contact with your accountant protects your business as you can both actively monitor whether you are heading in the right direction and steer your business back on course if not. “We all get busy, we all get distracted. There’s no point finding out six months after the end of the year that you could have fixed a problem with your business. And that’s unfortunately where a lot of small businesses are at,”
WHAT CHARACTERISTICS MAKE A GOOD ACCOUNTANT?
Accounting and bookkeeping are pivotal functions in any organization. They measure and check the financial status of the organization and provide invaluable data for business decisions. As a result, these fields demand topnotch accuracy and excellent organizational skills. Better defining and understanding the skills and qualities of an accountant can ensure you hire the right fit.
A STRONG SENSE OF ETHICS
Ethics and integrity are valued characteristics in an accountant. They must know right from wrong and always display integrity in his or her accounting and bookkeeping activities.
While accountants need to have a strong grasp of the basics, they must also display interest in keeping up-to-date. With the introduction of new principles, laws and taxes, the field of accounting is ever changing. Accountants must ensure that they have a thorough understanding of the latest news and developments in their fields. Nowadays, technology is playing a greater role in the industry and accountants must be cognizant of these emerging trends. An accountant who does not keep learning will not remain an asset to an organization in the long run.
It is essential for accountants to be accurate in their work. Misplacement of digits or even a comma might result in huge financial risks for an organization. As such, accountants must focus on the details and place a lot of emphasis on the accuracy of the work. Accountants must have developed the skill of double checking their work to the point where it is second nature to them.
Accountants need to deal with a lot of paperwork, numbers and data on a daily basis. To remain on top of all these details and access the right information in an efficient manner, they must exhibit excellent organization skills.
Tips for Hiring a CPA That’s Right for Your Business
As a Certified Public Accountant and a business owner, I can see the benefits of hiring a tax and financial expert. But I also know some common mistakes many people can make when deciding what type of CPA to hire.
What’s the Difference?
An accountant is a general term for anyone in the tax or finance profession who follows specific rules and regulations. I think of CPAs as super accountants because they are accountants who have passed a notoriously difficult licensing examination in a state. So, technically all CPAs are accountants, but not all accountants are CPAs.
Find a CPA or firm that understands your personal needs.
You need to be able to openly communicate with your CPA. If you’re hiring an external CPA firm, it has to understand what you do before you decide to work with them, even if the firm is just doing your taxes. There are too many things that can go wrong if your CPA doesn’t truly understand your business.
Remember to keep other qualifications in mind when hiring a CPA.
There’s a lot more to accounting than just crunching numbers, especially when it comes to hiring a CPA for your business. With their deep understanding of complex financial concepts and tax code, it can be difficult to have that broken down into layman terms. That’s why I think it’s important to look beyond the lines on their resume that might not be exactly to your standards and focus on other qualifications such as communication.
Figure out what you need before hiring.
Ask yourself this question: What are your business’s specific accounting needs? Are you looking for someone to process your accounts payable and sales invoices, do taxes and payroll or create your budgets and financial statements?
Getting financial advice
You don’t, and shouldn’t, need to be an authority on financial matters to be a contractor, sole trader, in a partnership or to run your own company. A good accountant will free you up to concentrate on your work, while giving you confidence that your numbers are working for you.
Why seek expert help
A good accountant is key to the financial health and success of most businesses and self-employed people.
On a basic level, it’s their job to help make the numbers work for you by:
making sure you’re compliant
advising you on how to reduce your tax
helping you maximise cash flow.
They will also objectively assess how your business is performing, where you’re falling short and how you can work to improve.
The monthly fee for most accountancy services puts off some business owners, contractors and self-employed people — but the old adage “you get what you pay for” rings true. Investing in a good accountant will save you money, and potentially your business, in the long run.
When to seek financial advice
While you should check in with your accountant on a regular basis, it’s particularly important to get financial advice when you are:
having trouble paying your bills
looking to grow
closing or selling your business
getting ready to seek investment
considering large bank loans
filing your taxes, or dealing with tricky tax issues.
Organization Tips for Accountants and Bookkeepers
As an accountant or bookkeeper, it’s your job to make sense of all the financial transactions in a company. Even small businesses require vigilant oversight of everything going out and coming in. The smallest error can result in hours upon hours of scrutinizing data and looking for misplaced decimal points. Additionally, accountants and bookkeepers typically have more complex responsibilities like managing employee payroll and preparing tax documents. These tasks require focused attention and a systematic process, as a slip up could lead to serious repercussions for the business owner.
Manage Client Relationships
Be honest: have you ever thought to yourself “I could get so much more work done if only these clients wouldn’t take up my all my time?” It’s funny because it’s true…but you also know that without those clients, you wouldn’t have a business. And if your business is growing, you know this means bringing on more clients, which means more meetings and more phone calls.
Integrate Your Software Programs
Using CRM software is a great start for managing client relationships, but these relationships aren’t limited to pre-scheduled meetings and phone calls. When a client shoots you a “quick email” with questions, sometimes it’s easiest to answer them right away. But how are you supposed to track these conversations effectively if you receive an onslaught of messages each day?
Optimize Your Workspace Organization
You knew this one was coming. Digital organization is great, but physical organization still plays a big role in your workplace productivity. Maybe you’re working in a corner office, or maybe you’re running your bookkeeping or accounting practice from your kitchen table. Either way, there are some tried and true methods for creating an organized workspace.
Here are a few ideas to consider implementing:
An L-shaped (or U-shaped) desk puts more essential items and files within reach.
Keep clutter to a minimum. Infrequently used items should go in drawers or on shelves behind or above your main workspace.
Use organizers to separate small items stored in drawers. Don’t be the accountant who’s always hunting around for a pen or a calculator.
Use a combination of vertical and horizontal file folder organizers to maximize your available storage space.
Save your eyesight! Use a combination of overhead and task lighting.
Double or even triple computer monitors save time and minimize confusion caused by switching between programs (like your accounting software and your CRM).