You’re Missing Out If You Don’t Have a CPA on Your Team!
I love teaching workshops at cosmetology schools, not only is it a great way to give back to the community, but I receive a lot of questions that provide insight as to what small business owners need to know. A frequent question is; “if I am going to hire a CPA, what should I look for?”
Here are 5 things to think about:
This is YOUR business and the CPA should take the time to understand YOUR vision of the future. This person is going to be a part of your team and should be on board with helping you achieve YOUR goals. Many years ago, I was fired by an attorney that I had hired because I continued to ask questions and wouldn’t give up on my vision of what I needed. He wasn’t happy about my persistence and as he slammed his hands on the table, he told me that “he couldn’t work with someone like me”, and gave me my retainer back. I had the last laugh because that led me to an attorney that understood exactly what I wanted and she was fantastic! The situation turned out better than I could have imagined!!
Money is a very personal topic and you need to feel completely comfortable with the person you choose because you need to be 100% honest with them. You need to feel like this person is a part of your family, because the ups and downs of life changes are going to affect your business and your taxes. I take a personal interest in the people that I help and they are more than just a number or file name. They are real people, that have real issues, and I care about them and want to assist so that they realize their dreams.
You need to ask, “how often will we be in touch?” It’s a good thing to have at least quarterly meetings with your accountant. Change is inevitable and informing your CPA can give you the time to adjust and manage your business to mitigate those additional taxes or take advantage of other regulations that may not have been applicable to you before. I like to have at least quarterly, if not monthly meetings, just to ensure that we are working toward the client’s goals as efficiently as possible and this process will make the client’s life A LOT easier come tax time.
Understand the difference between a CPA, an accountant and a bookkeeper. A CPA has at least a Bachelor’s degree and a total of 150 semester hours of college, which typically equates to a Master’s degree. They have taken a series of 4 exams each test ranges from 3-4 hours in length, and passing rates are LESS THAN 50%! Yes, it really is that difficult! They also have legal requirements to earn continuing education credits, which is great for you because they bring their expertise to your business and they are going to be current on changes in the law that could affect your livelihood! CPAs can also represent you when it comes to IRS and tax filing issues! While you might know some great accountants and bookkeepers the fact remains that they are not required to have the same level of education, they don’t have to keep up with any changes in the laws and they CANNOT represent you before the IRS! You should verify that the person is a licensed CPA. You can do that by going to the AICPA website at http://www.aicpa.org/Advocacy/State/StateContactInfo/Pages/default.aspx
Find out how receptive they are to educate you. My personal philosophy is that clients should understand how to create and read their Financial Statements and that it is my responsibility to help educate. Owners of healthy businesses have a grasp on how these numbers work and an effective accountant or CPA will spend a lot of time with an owner to ensure understanding. I make sure the time I spend with clients is reflected positively in their bottom line.
These are just five topics you need to ask a prospective CPA. Ask as many questions as necessary so that you feel comfortable. CPAs can do anything from simple bookkeeping to giving strategic business advice. Businesses live and die based on financial decisions. Make an effective CPA a part of your team today!
Categories: General Business