Growing your small business is not a small task.
It takes a massive effort to find clients, considerable time to offer an excellent service, and an incredible amount of investment to create demand.
Small business ownership can be lonely. If you're not careful, burnout can creep in where you least expect it and make your life miserable.
First-time entrepreneurs often start their businesses on their own. You talk to every client, execute all the marketing, and do all the bookkeeping yourself, to name a few of your responsibilities.
Everything is up to you!
It's precisely for this reason that hiring the right accountant should be the first thing you do when starting a small business.
Working with an advisor that can ask essential questions about your goals, share their valuable experience, and ultimately help you discover what you're missing is a massive advantage for small business owners looking to grow.
Having the right advisory team on your side is essential when trying to grow any business. Mistakes are costly to make and even more expensive to be cleaned up.
How do you find the right accountant to work with? What questions should you ask to ensure they're the right fit? How do you know it's time to work with an accountant in the first place?
There are four crucial things that every business owner should consider when hiring any advisor, whether it's a business coach, financial advisor, or accountant.
Are They Asking Intentional Questions?
Interviews can feel tedious.
We want to know whether or not someone will be a good fit for our business right off the bat. Even a quick 15-minute phone call can feel like a barrier to getting the results we're looking for.
Still, informational interviews can give you a good idea of how someone works, what they expect from you, and what their process is moving forward.
The right accountant will start by asking intentional questions about your business.
Answering questions about your business allows you to set expectations for the person you're looking to work with.
Questions allow your perspective to be deeply understood.
At their core, informational questions are a means to build an intentional relationship between you and your advisor.
No third-party advisor will know your business as well as you do. Therefore, the right person is someone who shows an interest in getting to know your business better so that they can provide solutions to the problems that you're experiencing.
Common questions that accountants ask prospective clients are:
- How are you currently tracking your finances?
- How much revenue are you projected to bring in this year?
- How many employees do you now have?
- How many bank accounts does your business utilize?
- What is the legal structure of your business?
- What's your process for billing clients and collecting payments?
- What's your strategy for paying vendors and contractors?
- Have you worked with an accountant before?
- Have you filed your most recent year's tax return?
- What are you hoping to learn about your business from working together?
- What are your goals for this next year? How about five years from now?
These questions and others like them allow accountants, financial coaches, and advisors alike to get an understanding of your business as it currently is. They help build a shared sense of how your business is currently performing, your pain points in running the business, and your hope for the future.
Pairing this understanding helps your accountant to uncover more about your business and learn how they can help.
Do They Have the Right Experience?
You most likely go to a General Practitioner when you visit a doctor.
If you've got the flu, sprained your wrist, or are simply looking for a wellness checkup, your GP is a good solution! They see hundreds of patients weekly and can provide excellent, high-level service.
However, your GP will likely refer you to someone with specialized experience in situations with complications beyond their general expertise. The body is a complex organism with many different systems operating simultaneously.
A single doctor often specializes in one specific system or even a component of that system, dedicating their life to furthering their understanding of that particular part of the body.
In the same way, businesses are complex living things that have many different facets. Growing a company over time introduces more complexity into the equation. Having more employees results in a greater need for HR support and compliance. Working with many vendors means your payments must be monitored and accounted for.
For this reason, working with someone with prior experience in your industry or solving the problems you're experiencing is essential.
There are many different types of accounting professionals:
- Tax Accountants
- Audit Accountants
- Trust Accountants
- Public Accountants
- Private Accountants
- General Ledger Accountants
- Cost Accountants
The list is long. In each of these professional specialties, accountants can have increasingly specific levels of expertise.
Not every accountant is a tax accountant, and not every accountant will suit the needs of your business.
For that reason, when evaluating the right advisor or accountant for your business, it's essential to ensure that you understand the areas in which you need help! Whether designing and implementing excellent financial and operational tools, understanding your financial statements and the underlying financial story, or simply helping with bookkeeping, it's best to work with someone with the needed expertise.
Can They Tell You What You Don't Know?
Entrepreneurship is a learning experience.
We make mistakes along the way that can feel catastrophic at the time, even though they're small bumps along the road in the long run.
Working with the right advisor can help uncover and understand things you didn't know. This kind of education is a massive shortcut to success for many small business owners!
A good accountant or advisor doesn't just answer your questions and provide solutions to your problems; they teach you new information that can help you make better decisions for your business.
This means they should be willing to share their knowledge and expertise with you and help you better understand financial concepts and practices. They should help you confidently understand a Balance Sheet is or help you unpack the story behind your Profit and Loss.
A good advisor can teach you new information by providing regular updates and insights on changes to accounting standards or other financial regulations that could impact your business.
They can help you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices in your industry and provide you with resources and tools to help you manage your finances more effectively.
In addition, a good advisor can also help you develop a financial plan for your business that considers your goals, objectives, and risk tolerance. They can help you identify opportunities for growth and expansion and develop strategies for managing cash flow, controlling costs, and maximizing profits.
By working with an experienced advisor who can teach you new information, you can gain the skills and knowledge you need to make informed decisions for your business and achieve long-term success.
Once You've Found Them, Listen
Finding the right accountant or advisor to help grow your business can be daunting.
However, it's a necessary step for any entrepreneur looking to take their business to the next level!
Finding an advisor who asks questions, listens to your needs, and understands your goals is a great place to start. Understanding what experience to look for and the problems you're trying to solve is key to finding an advisor who can provide valuable insights into your industry and help you navigate the complexities of your business. Above all, an advisor who teaches you new information can help you stay ahead of the curve and adapt to changes in your industry. Or even correct processes that were inefficient or wrong, to begin with!
However, it's not enough to find the right accountant – you must listen and seek to understand the advice you're given.
It's essential to keep an open mind and be receptive to new ideas and perspectives, even if they challenge your beliefs or assumptions about your business. Your advisor is there to help you make informed decisions, and if you're not willing to listen to their advice, you won't get the most out of the relationship.
Additionally, it's important to remember that finding the right advisor is an ongoing process.
As your business grows and evolves, your needs will change, and you may find that you need to seek out new advisors who can help you navigate new challenges and opportunities.
Don't be afraid to evaluate your existing relationships and make changes if necessary – the right advisor can make all the difference in the success of your business; with the right help, you can unlock the financial story that your business holds.