Small businesses are not only trying to find their way in an uncertain economy, but they are also dealing with the seemingly constant changes to tax code and increased complexity of regulations. Trying to stay compliant without any outside help would dominate the majority of their time, taking them away from actually doing business. What is a small business owner to do? Sage is passionate about helping small businesses stay compliant while also achieving their business ambitions. To do this, we think it is important to partner with an outside accountant.
Many small business owners already work with an outside accountant. In fact, in a Sage Accountants Usage Study from last year, 59% of U.S. small businesses said they work with an accountant. While this is an encouraging number, the majority only utilize an outside accountant during tax season. What many small business owners don’t realize is the value that comes from building a relationship with an accountant on a consultative basis throughout the year. An accountant can serve as a trusted advisor who can not only help a business stay compliant, but also offers invaluable counsel to take a business to the next level, or assist in navigating through an uncertain economy. Accountants bring knowledge, experience, expertise, and a perspective that can help build a plan to turn business ambitions into reality.
Here are ten things outside accountants do well that small business should consider when determining what capacity and how often they want to utilize an outside accountant.
Businesses need a plan.
One reason thousands of businesses fail every year is that they didn’t have a plan. When asked why, they said, “I just didn’t know where to start.” This is where an accountant comes in. A good accountant will partner with a business to look at all the data and help build a roadmap to success. Poor planning doesn’t have to be reality, and bringing a professional on board can help small businesses plan for success.
Accountants can save you from going too far down the wrong path.
Many entrepreneurs got in to business for themselves out of passion for what they do. Because of this, they will sometimes find themselves in a situation where they made a decision based on this passion, not on the data, intelligence, and insights available. An accountant can help determine what the right next steps are for success.
Accountants can provide a new perspective.
Sometimes small business owners are so consumed with running the day-to-day operations of their business that they may not be able to see the whole picture. Meeting with an accountant can be like taking a step back, looking at the bigger picture, and gaining a fresh, new perspective. Sometimes that’s all it takes to come up with the next big idea.
Accountants have reach.
Don’t underestimate how valuable it is to receive guidance from someone who has insight and knowledge across hundreds of businesses and industries. Accountants not only get to see the financial information of many businesses across a variety of industries, but they also have visibility into best practices that are working for other businesses as well as the mistakes others have made that have led to failure. Being able to have this insight and share information on what has or hasn’t worked for others is invaluable—why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to?
Business owners using an accountant report the service is critical to their success.
In the recent Accountant Usage Study conducted by Sage among U.S. business owners, 89 percent of respondents agreed that working with an accountant was a critical element of their success.
Accountants understand tax.
Especially in the current business environment, taxes are not always easy and straight- forward, and rules and regulations continue to change on a regular basis. Aligning with an accountant can help ensure that your business remains compliant and is a critical step in maximizing your tax savings.
Accountants can bring financial information to life.
If data is not being interpreted, analyzed, or used to help drive business direction and decisions then a great opportunity is being missed. Have an accountant help you dive into the numbers and use them to propel greater business growth and profitability in the future. Information without insights represents a missed opportunity.
Accountants know numbers.
There is a reason accountants went to school for many years—understanding the financial data of a business and translating that data in to insights to guide you in to the future is no easy job and requires a great deal of education as well as experience. When it comes to the numbers, don’t miss all that can be gained by working with a true expert.
Accountants can be critical to getting through an audit.
If your business has ever been audited by the Internal Revenue Service, you probably know that the ongoing assistance of an accountant can turn the usually frustrating and daunting experience into a much easier process. Participants of Sage accountant usage studies also agree—92% of respondents said working with an outside accountant during an audit was very helpful.
A good accountant can make great recommendations.
In day-to-day interactions with many businesses, an accountant gets to know how trustworthy a business is, its financial state, and its overall business strategy. Because of this, an accountant can often be the best person to make a referral when you’re looking for other professionals, whether that is an attorney, marketing guru, or website developer. An accountant can be one of the most connected people you know!
A small business can probably survive without the help of an outside accountant, but working more closely with an outside accountant year-round on more than just taxes will not only keep you compliant, but his or her guidance and expertise can help your business prosper in 2014 and beyond.
Source: Sage Accountants Network member study, conducted November, 2012, among 1,260 Sage Accountants Network contributing members.
About the author:
Jennifer Warawa – Vice President and General Manager of Sage Accountant Solutions at Sage North America
Jennifer’s passion is to partner with consultants, accountants and bookkeepers to provide solutions that make a difference in their business or firm, and support them in delivering an extraordinary experience to their clients.
Prior to working with Sage, Jennifer owned her own firm in Kelowna, BC for 12 years providing accounting, bookkeeping, consulting services, software training, as well as business/ financial planning and marketing.
Jennifer made the Accounting Today Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting and CPA Practice Advisor’s Top 40 Under 40 lists consecutively for the last five years. In 2013, Jennifer was also recognized as one of the CRN Women of the Channel: Power 100 and one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Accounting.