Very few people love the idea of getting an accountant. Accountants are – unfairly, I think – thought of like utilities. No one gets up and goes to work everyday because they love paying for electricity, but everyone realizes that they can do the good stuff without it.
This is the time of year when suddenly, there are accountants everywhere. Everyone wants to do your taxes, get you your refund, and tell you about the time they went golfing with Alice Cooper – I’m told he’s very good and my uncle called him “Alex.”
Even though this is the time to think about accountants, it’s not the only time you’re going to need and accountant. In fact, a good accountant is less like a utility and more like an employee. They can give you business insights that you’ve overlooked, prepare you for days when sales are slow, and figure out the best way to leverage the financial technology (accounting software, payroll, and the like) you’ve already invested in.
They’re like superheroes, really. Well, superheroes with an admittedly odd and niche set of superpowers. Let’s talk about what you’re missing out on.
Time is money, and you’re wasting both
If you’re not working with an accountant, I’m willing to bet that you’re wasting money. Some of it is money that you know you’re wasting. You get to the end of the month, look back at your accounts, and realize that you now regret buying that $165 BB-8 toy that was going to be so cool in the waiting area.
Some your waste, though, you don’t even notice. Your payment terms are a few weeks out of whack. Your cash flow is all backloaded in the month. You’ve used a credit card when a debit payment would have sufficed.
These are the sorts of things that a good accountant can help bring to light and correct.
Beyond the strictly financial errors, you’re also wasting time doing the books yourself. You end up spending eight hours a month trying to sort everything out, costing you $1,200 – assuming you charge $150 per hour.
By bringing in an accountant – at the right price, obviously – you can get that time back. You can also get back the time you spent fiddling with receipts every three months and the time you spent trying to sort out changes to your payroll and the time you spent hunting down the best business credit card and – well, you get the idea.
Accountant show up and give you time back. It may be that tax season is their time to shine, but a good accountant sparkles all year long.
Ongoing financial reporting
Because so much automation has entered the accounting space, accountants now have more time to take care of other tasks in your business. Once they get your receipt collection and bank reconciliation sorted out, it’s time to start talking about adding value.
This can be through financial forecasting, inventory optimization, or cash flow management, to name a few. These are the sorts of upgrades that can help a business move from its current life into its next iteration.
Some of these reports are just going to make your life easier, especially because, you have no idea how to do them correctly. A small business accountant can take all the hemming and hawing about where in the report that BB-8 is supposed to show up.
Taxes aren’t the game, they’re the score
The last reason I want you to hire an accountant before tax season is simple. When taxes roll around, all the work has already happened.
Running a business is like running a marathon. Imagine if you started thinking about your form only in the last mile of the marathon. How useful would that be? If you want to shave time off your race, you need to be paying attention the whole time.
Having a better grip on your finances throughout the year is what’s going to make tax time a more pleasant experience. Hiring someone at the last minute to try and weave your straw into gold is just foolish.
An accountant can keep you on task, find savings as the year goes on, and help you end up with the most beneficial tax statement possible. Give them the time to make the decisions and to understand the business you’re running.
A few years back, the New York Times listed poor accounting as on of the top ten reasons businesses fail. If you don’t get a handle on your finances now, no amount of tax work is going to save the business you’ve worked so hard to build.
Find an accountant you trust and talk to them. They don’t have to work full-time for you, but you need to build that relationship up before you need their support. For more tips on small business finance and accounting, check out Capterra’s Finance blog.
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