What business people think about an account is, yes you’re right: number person. Okay that is quiet true. The second is a debit-credit person. The least is that a good accountant, of course, is a pre-requisite for smart tax preparation.
What if I say that many smart CPA, especially one who has worked with a lot of small businesses, is able to do everything from introducing you to helpful lawyers to providing business advice?
That is true. Indeed, there are many.
A good accountant should be able to understand the business operation at first stage, and come up with some solid number-based analyses as an advice package to help the company as her client. An experienced account also has great professional networks from attorneys to business appraisers.
So if you the company owner, the key is understanding how to get the most out of your accountant—and not let that invaluable resource go to waste. Take these steps:
1. Make sure you have the right one
The first issue is ensuring you’ve chosen an accountant who’s a good fit for your business. The best way to find one is by getting a reference from your attorney, banker or a fellow small business owner. You want someone who not only understands your industry, but also has worked with small companies in your sector before.
In addition, it’s a good idea to look for a firm that will be able to work with you as your business grows.
2. Tap their networks
Most savvy accountants are connected to a network of lawyers, bankers and other professionals who might be helpful to you. Your job is to bring the topic up with your accountant and ask point blank about contacts you could meet.
What’s more, your accountant probably has clients in a variety of other fields, people you might want to get to know. Be sure, then, to find out who some of those clients are and explore how you might be able to help each other. Ask your accountant to make the introductions more than once—just don’t overdo it.
3. Seek their business advice
Accountants who work with small companies also tend to have a deep understanding of everything from pricing strategies to cost controls. Result: If you’re facing a business challenge, make sure to bring it up and ask for your accountant’s input.
4. Look for their help in getting a loan
If you’re applying for bank financing, your accountant should be one of your key resources. Of course, you’ll get help preparing or gathering the appropriate documents. But that should include not just looking at your balance sheet, but also offering advice about what to put in your business plan.
And, consider taking your accountant along with you when you meet your potential banker, especially if they already know each other.
5. Stay in touch
Don’t limit your contact to tax season. Meet in person or call quarterly, or even every month. That way, your accountant can help monitor your business throughout the year.
6. Come prepared (be a student)
Make sure you have the proper documents and records with you when you meet. If you’re not prepared the first time, your accountant should tell you exactly what to take with you for the next appointment.
In addition, if you don’t have a thorough understanding of finance, your accountant should be able to help educate you about not just key financial measurements, but metrics that are especially important for your industry. What’s more, you can ask your accountant to help you understand how your results compare to those of other similar businesses.
Summing up, to get the most out of your accountant: First, is making sure that she/he is the right one for your business. Next, is utilizing all her expertise and knowledge to grow with your business. By doing so, it pays you biggest dividend.
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