Business owners don't always realize that accountants can be used for much more than annual tax preparation. However, having a great accountant by your side is an invaluable resource - and that's why you need to make sure you're getting enough value out of the relationship.
At CSI Accounting & Payroll, we've worked with small business accounting for more than 50 years. In all of that time, we've been frequently asked by prospective clients, "What can I do to get the most out of my accountant?"
To get the most out of your accountant, you need to use them as a trusted resource to grow your network, gain new insights, and learn best business practices beyond the numbers. Here are our top five ways to do just that.
What Are the 5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Accountant?
1. Use Their Networks
Not everyone uses a local accountant, but there are a few reasons why you might consider that over a national service. Savvy accountants have a pulse on the local business scene and are connected to a network of professionals who might be helpful to you. Ask your accountant for a recommendation if you are in need of any of the following, especially if you are seeking bank financing for a new business plan:
Lawyer for business-related issues
Business insurance agents
If you work with a well-rounded service like CSI Accounting & Payroll, we also offer HR plans, employee retirement plans, and workers' compensation insurance through our partners.
2. Use Their Business Advice
Small business accounting firms tend to have a vested relationship with their clients. If you’re facing a business challenge, ask your accountant for advice - even if the topic doesn’t revolve exclusively around numbers. At CSI, we have worked with clients on these topics (and beyond!):
Meet with your accountant on a regular basis, in person or via video call, if possible. We recommend monthly meetings to monitor your business throughout the year. Not only will this help you actually prepare for tax season, but you will also be prepared to proactively move your business forward instead of reacting to issues after they happen.
Find an accountant that doesn’t make you feel as if you’re "on the clock" every time you reach out to them by charging you by the minute. At CSI, we offer (and encourage!) regular emails, texts, or phone calls at no extra fee if you have any questions outside of meetings.
4. Use Their Expertise
You’re an expert at your business, whether it's repairing cars, running your restaurant, or giving Pilates lessons. However, you're not an expert at bookkeeping or taxes - at least, not in ways that will keep you above water if an error occurs or in ways that will strategically benefit you. The best way to run a business is to outsource everything you're not an expert in. Ultimately, your time is most valuable working on your business.
Luckily, you can learn a few tips and tricks from a professional when it comes to accounting best practices. Ask your accountant about key financial metrics for your small business and industry. A good accountant will be able to explain complex number-crunching in language that you can understand.
5. Use Their Team
In addition to tax preparation and monthly accounting services, you may have the need for payroll services. If you're fortunate enough that your accounting firm also offers this, leverage the services to give yourself more time to focus on your business instead of working in it.
Once you start working with an accountant on more than just an annual basis, you'll realize how many ways they can be of value to you! If you need referrals from a quality accountant's network, business advice, additional time and attention, outsourced expertise, or service offerings from their team, they've got you.
Our team at CSI Accounting & Payroll knows that you work hard on building a successful business, and that's why we want to be your trusted resource in the five areas mentioned in this article. If you think we can be a good fit, click the button below to schedule a free consultation:
Not ready to talk yet? That's okay! Read up on the cost of monthly accounting here:
Brian began working at CSI in 1996, and he purchased the business in 2002. As Owner, his primary role is in the management and growth of the firm. Since 2002, the firm has more than quadrupled in size. In 2009, Brian started CSI’s payroll service to complement CSI’s accounting and tax services. Brian received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota, with a double major in Accounting and Financial Management. He’s a member of both the National Society for Tax Professionals and the National Society for Accountants, and he serves on the board of directors for the Professional Association of Small Business Accountants, where he was once president. Brian also serves on the business advisory council for Opportunity Partners, an organization that helps people with disabilities find employment. He’s also contributed to several business books, including Six Steps to Small Business Success and The Lean Mean Business Machine. Fun Fact: To help put himself through college, he used student loans, delivered pizzas, and worked summers in a salmon processing plant in Alaska.