Whether you’re already in business and have been for a while, or are planning to become a small business owner sometime soon, your best resource might come from a rather unexpected source. It’s not your first hire, your VA or even your networking group. Rather, it’s the person who balances your budget, prepares your taxes and P&L statements, and helps you leverage technology to gain efficiency: your accountant. But to make the most of their expertise, there are some questions you should ask – and some you definitely shouldn’t!
3 Things To Ask
- What Experience Do You Have In My Industry?
While accountancy is sometimes a one size fits all profession, many accountants will specialise in a certain vertical or market. Focusing in on one market helps them generate a higher level of knowledge and experience in the industry and its unique quirks. For example, at Cove Accountancy Services we specialise in working with the trades – from builders to plumbers and everything in-between. If your industry has a particular set of idiosyncrasies, it’s worth finding an accountant who specialises in the same industry.
- How Often Can We Meet / Can I Call You?
Depending know how experienced you are or what your plans are for growth, you might need more support from your accountant. To maximise the guidance your accountant can give you, you may want to meet with them regularly. But be careful – some accountants will charge extra for this time, so you should make sure you clarify how many times you can meet and chat with them within your chosen package, and whether the extra time is worth the return.
- Who Else Should I Have On My Team?
Accountants deal with dozens of businesses and business owners every week – and sometimes hundreds every year. So they know their way around a business. But more importantly, they know people. Accountants are fantastic connectors, so if you’re looking for someone to outsource to, or to connect with, they are the people to ask. It’s always worth doing your research on anyone recommended to you (by anyone, not just your accountant), but it’s a great place to start building connections with people who can strengthen your business.
3 Things Not To Ask
- To Do Automatable Tasks
Automation is a wonderful thing, and it’s made life easier for a lot of business owners. Including, saving a lot of money! But some business owners still ask their accountants to manage their chequebooks – to manually process payments, receipts and payroll transactions every month. This is not only a waste of money, but a waste of precious time for both of you. Software can handle all of these mundane tasks in a fraction of the time, so you can make the most of your investment by asking your accountant to handle the complicated bits.
- How Is My Business Performing?
There’s a simple reason you shouldn’t be asking your accountant this question. You should already know the answer. Your accountant may be the person filing the returns and making sure all the numbers add up, but it’s your job to understand the financial health of your business. Some business owners like to shift responsibility for everything finance related onto their accountant – but this is the worst way to handle your finances. Instead, your accountant is there to advise, to facilitate and to act as a safety net in case something doesn’t make sense.
- Can We Bend The Rules?
Not even ‘just this once’. It’s a slippery slope, and any good accountant worth their salt will refuse. You should never compromise the relationship you have with you accountant by asking them to do something unlawful or unethical. It could ruin your own integrity, as well as theirs. If you do, it will always come back to haunt you. Instead, do everything by the book, as your accountant advises, and don’t try to bend the rules.
At Cove Accountancy Services, we specialise in providing accounting, tax advice, payroll and bookkeeping services to businesses in and around Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey. We have extensive experiences working with the trades, both as trades professionals ourselves and now as accountancy providers. If you would like to find out more, just get in touch with us today.