Every small business needs money pros. A money pro can be a bookkeeper, accountant, financial coach, or payroll service. A fractional Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is another type of money pro, and there are others, so this list is not all-inclusive. Not every business needs all the pros, but at a minimum, I advocate for every small business to have the services of a small business accountant for tax preparation every year. This post isn’t about finding your pro by getting a referral from someone you trust, which is always good practice.
This post is about making sure the pro you hire is a good fit to help you with your financial needs. Not all accountants have the same services. Some reporting styles will work well for some people more than others. You need a pro that will be an important part of your team for business compliance, planning, and growth. And it may end up being more than one pro. You need to get what you need to meet your goals.
FINDING OUT YOUR MONEY PROS
What support do I really need? This question actually covers two areas in my mind. What are the mechanical money things I need done, like running payroll or filing taxes, and the organizational and mindset support you need, like regular email reminders. There are a variety of services that can manage the mechanical. What are the financial things you don’t want to do? Or find too complicated? Find the pro that can do them. But make sure you also consider the personal touches needed to keep you on track. If you need a monthly phone call or email, request one. I know people who have weekly or bi-weekly meetings with their accountants. I know others that only need a letter with their completed quarterly return to sign and file by mail.
MONEY PROS AND YOUR COMFORTABLITIY
What level of reporting and understanding am I comfortable with? Let’s be honest, not everyone can read a financial report and understand it. It’s definitely not in the zone of genius for most entrepreneurs. But what good is having the reports if you can’t use them? If someone just generates a report can you use it for projections and growth decisions? Perhaps for you it would be better to have quarterly in person (or virtual) meetings to review the numbers and understand what they mean for you. I have several quarterly planning clients because their accountants only do reporting for compliance. So, they work with me to do planning and projections. Get the pro or combination of pros that makes you very comfortable using the data to drive your decisions.
WHY YOU SHOULD HIRE A MONEY PRO
The phrase, “Just because you ‘can’ doesn’t mean you ‘should’’ includes financial matters. Are you still running payroll when you should have handed that off already? Struggling with your taxes again because you don’t want to pay for help? Having money pros can also reduce the potential mistakes that can cost your business. Having a bookkeeper, accountant, payroll service, CFO or coach for planning and growth are all pros that can help you avoid costly mistakes. Tax mistakes can have penalties and interest costs. Not withholding the right amount of money from your employee’s checks can also have penalties. Just like not having projections and growth planning each quarter can affect your profit margins and goals. Keeping your books inconsistently can also cause a financial crunch, and you can miss indicators that business decisions need to be changed. As soon as you can, get professional support.
Finally, how often do I need to see my pro? For many of us an annual checkup by a physician or medical practitioner is on the calendar for our health. For others there are weekly appointments to the chiropractor or regular visits with a specialist. Approach your financial pros the same way. What are your goals? You will likely need to see more people more frequently if there is an issue, less if you have a good management practice in place.
Don’t be afraid to just book a session with a pro for an hour if you need one. Go get that consultation and have your questions answered if you need it. Thinking that you must retain a money pro for every week, or every month can prevent people from getting the support they need. These pros work for you and need to be a good fit for your personality, business culture, and financial needs.