Many small business owners only talk to their accountant when they absolutely have to. An accountant can be a business’ best friend! Here’s five ways you can connect with your accountant to help your business grow.
1. Ask Questions
Accounting and taxes aren’t intuitive, you shouldn’t “just know”. There’s no reason to be embarrassed for not knowing something. I didn’t know much at all about accounting until I began my studies. As a CPA I spent a long time in school and learning on the job before I received my designation. I’m here to be the expert for you, so please ask all the questions!
Two great types of questions are clarifying questions and specific questions.
Ask clarifying questions
If I’ve used a term you don’t understand, or we’re taking about a concept you’re not sure about, ask! It’s so important to understand what’s going on with your number because they have a big impact on the rest of your business (we’ll talk more about this later).
Get curious and ask about the “why” and not just the “what”. If you’re learning a term or concept, ask why we do it that way. It’s in the “why” that we learn out how all the pieces fit together.
If you don’t feel safe asking questions of your accountant, they might not be a good fit for you.
Ask specific questions
I know it’s tempting to ask “is there anything you can see that I should be doing better” but that doesn’t give me much direction. I can tell you about technical things I would change, like maybe a receipt wasn’t coded properly, but from a big picture perspective, we need to have a more in-depth conversation about your goals for the company.
You’re better off asking more specific questions, like “if I want to be able to spend $10k on a car in the next three months, what’s the best way to do that based on where I’m at today?” or “If I doubled my sales next year, would it double my income?”
These questions tell me your goal, your timeline, and what it is you’re not sure about. I can provide a specific answer to fit those parameters.
2. Build Processes and Workflows Together
As an accountant who sees many small business owners per day, I have a few tricks up my sleeve around process efficiency and how to help make your bookkeeping painless. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
If you like taking pictures of your receipts as you get them, great. If you’d prefer to have a weekly email reminder to submit your receipts for the week, that’s great too. However you work, your accounting process should be made for you. If there’s a major pain point somewhere along the line, the work probably isn’t going to get done, which isn’t good for either of us. Rather than feeling like you’ve failed, let’s build a process to set you up for success.
3. Communicate Regularly
Communicating with the people who have a key role in your business is so important. I have weekly meetings with each of my team members because those people are critical to the business. If waited to check-in with them once per year, we might be WAY off track by then and it might be too late to fix it.
Book regular check-in meetings with your accountant, or at the very least send an email. I touch base with my customers at least quarterly, but in some cases I have weekly calls. Communicating regularly means we’re able to be proactive about tax planning and business decisions. I also get to know the business better so I’m able to make more informed recommendations.
When you find yourself staring at confusing reports, or pulling your hair out, that’s the time to reach out for help.
4. Include Your Accountant in Business Decisions
If you’re thinking about a big change to your company, make sure to include your accountant in the conversation. It’s never fun to find out you’ve created a bigger tax bill or more administrative work by accident.
Let me tell you a story…
Taylor (not their real name) decided to switch their business from app development to selling products. Instead of reaching out to their accountant, they decided the best thing to do would be to incorporate a new company which cost $499 (unnecessary cost).
Taylor now has two corporations. Old Corp funded the start up of New Corp (intercompany loan) with every dollar in the bank account. New Corp has been losing money in the start-up phase and can’t repay the loan. Old Corp owes the CRA ~$40k in taxes but can’t pay because it doesn’t have any revenue.
We now must administrate two corporations, instead of one, and the losses generated in New Corp can’t be used to offset the income in prior years from Old Corp which means no tax savings.
All of this could’ve been avoided with a 15-minute call with their accountant
5. You Lead The Way
Accounting and taxes are never “set it and forget it”. Yes, an accountant can support you and do the tough, technical pieces. Yes, an accountant can provide guidance and strategy to help you grow your business, but it’s you who drives the bus.
I know that’s not what you wanted to hear, and it sucks. There are pieces of business we don’t like and we wish would go away, but that’s unfortunately not how being a small business owner works. We can outsource the pieces we’re not good at or don’t have time for, but we still need to be the manager.
If it were easy, everyone would be in business for themselves!
If this article inspired you to ask more questions and have some big conversations about your business, I’m happy to chat! I’m always willing to share 15-minutes with any Canadian small business owner and answer any questions.Ask me Anything! Book A Chat