Real Small Business
A good accountant knows your business, understands financial management and is up to date on ways to maximize profits.
With a resource like this at your business fingertips it makes sense to take every opportunity to gain input from them. While it takes some effort on your part to make a relationship with your accountant pay off, the investment of time can reward your business in many ways.
Review the questions below to find ways to best leverage your small business accountant.
What should you expect your accountant to do for you financially?
At a minimum you should work with your accountant to ensure your company complies with tax deadlines and guidelines and reduces its tax burden.
During the tax preparation process, you should expect your accountant to prompt you for information on expenses and other details to help ensure that you are able to take all deductions you are entitled to. You should ideally receive some post tax season advice from your accountant on how to modify your business practices or record keeping to help maximize tax savings.
Beyond taxes, your accountant can help you prepare the financial statements you need as part of your business’ money management process. These include your cash flow statement, income statement, and balance sheet. Assuming your accountant has knowledge of your industry, he or she can be a valuable evaluator of financial assumptions used in these documents. Similarly, your accountant may be able to assist with issues such as financing, helping you to evaluate the pros and cons of various financing options and determining how much debt your company can support.
How often should you meet with your accountant?
The exact frequency of meetings with your accountant will be based on your businesses needs, but should be a minimum of twice a year.
Once mid year to assess the status of your business and make adjustments to your tax planning and financial management practices and a second time before the end of the year. It is also advisable to speak with your accountant after tax season to gather input on how you can improve on what you did the previous year to maximize tax savings. Throughout the year your accountant should be available for phone consultations to answer questions and provide guidance. The frequency of these meetings may also be driven by the nature of your business. For example, companies that must make monthly sales tax payments may need to have their accountants close out their books each month.
What materials should you bring with you when you meet with your accountant?
An accountant can only serve you well if you provide proper documentation, so always ask ahead of any meetings for a list of needed items.
Contact your accountant several weeks before a meeting with this inquiry, as it can be time consuming to locate and aggregate all necessary information. Be prepared to take notes at your meeting to assemble a list of required follow up documentation.
Are there ways my accountant can help me build my business?
An accountant can and wants to be a valuable networking resource, so ask for referrals to potential customers, peers, and vendors.
In addition, if you are interviewing or evaluating financially related services such as a bookkeeper or payroll company, consider asking your accountant to interview the finalists. These interviews may help you to choose a resource that is best suited to your company’s specific financial needs and can work easily with your accountant. Keep in mind you will need to compensate your accountant for his or her time to conduct these interviews.
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Small Business Guide
- Starting Up Your Business
- Structuring The Business
- Creating a Business Plan
- Your Company's Public Relations
- Effective Competitive Analysis
- Managing Purchasing to Maximize Cash Flow
- Bidding Basics
- Hiring Staff
- Small Business Insurance
- Small Business Resources
- Vacations and Taking Time Off
- Preparing for Tax Season
- Cash Flow
- Your Company's Credit
- Getting Funding
- Employee Compensation