Time for a shout-out to entrepreneurs and small business owners!
According to the Small Business Administration, “Small Business is BIG!”. The 28 million small businesses in America impact the economy by providing approximately 55% of the all jobs and are growing steadily while big businesses are downsizing. Small business accounts for 54% of all sales. This is HUGE! There is a lot riding on the shoulders of small business owners. Entrepreneurs and small business owners have many of the same concerns as big businesses, but have fewer resources and often tackle these issues alone. Small business owners’ concerns can range anywhere from the balance in their bank account, to the impact of a potential increase in the minimum wage on their profits, to the rising cost of healthcare, to the best way to minimize their tax liability, to name just a few.
Don’t go it alone, get yourself a Trusted Advisor.
As an entrepreneur and small business owner, you probably find this a difficult concept to get your head around let alone actually do. You know your business better than anyone because you built it from the ground up. How can you bring in an outsider and trust them, really trust them, with the most intimate details of your business? How can you be sure that they will hold your finances, bank balance and trade secrets in strict confidence? All valid concerns, but I am here to caution you against holding out and going it alone. A trusted advisor, like a CPA, can be a valuable asset to you and your business. Before you start objecting by saying that a CPA is too expensive, or that you only need them at tax time, or that they don’t understand you and your business, let’s take a closer look, then at the end you decide.
What is a CPA?
A Certified Public Accountant, CPA, is someone that has passed a rigorous exam, maintains a certain level of continuing education and follows a professional code of ethics. CPAs are more than just accountants that balance the books. CPAs often serve in many different roles in corporate America, big and small. They not only help companies with their income taxes and tax compliance, they have an intimate knowledge of accounting principles and provide companies with financial planning, forensic accounting, management consulting, corporate governance and estate planning to name a few. With their wealth of experience and knowledge, a good CPA can offer objective, non-biased views and advice to small business owners that is invaluable. Sure, CPAs know the numbers inside and out, but they also have an ability to see beyond the numbers and into the truth about what is going on in your business. It is this ability to see into what is driving business today, projecting where the business is going in the future and effectively communicating this to you in an honest and truthful manner that often places a CPA in the role of Trusted Advisor.
Why Do I Need a CPA?
A CPA can help guide you through the treacherous waters you encounter in running and growing your business. They understand business at a level that is different than non-CPAs. One of the main issues debated during the upcoming US Presidential campaign was whether to raise the minimum wage, and if so, by how much. A CPA can provide you with visibility into the impact such a change could have on your business. Are you looking to grow your business, but need to find capital to fund your growth? A CPA can provide guidance on the type of capital that is right for your business, help you obtain this capital by providing solid financial statements and show you the impact this will have on your business through insightful and easy to read forecasting models. Need to make sure you are complying with all the payroll, sales and income tax laws? A CPA well versed in tax laws can easily help you navigate through these complex issues, as well as help you to avoid costly penalties as a result of missing important filing deadlines. These are just a few examples of where a good CPA can provide value to you and your business.
How Do I Choose the Right CPA?
Now that you see the value a CPA can bring to the table and are convinced that you need one, how do you go about finding one? Here are some tips on finding a CPA that is a good fit for you.
- First, understand what your greatest need is right now. Is it tax related? Do you need help keeping up with your books and records so that your tax accountant can get your taxes done? Do you need help figuring out how to fund your business growth? Once you know what you need, you can get referrals from business associates, attorneys or other CPAs to start your search for your CPA.
- Now that you’ve been referred to a CPA you’ll want to make sure that they have an active license (you can look them up on the state licensing website, for Florida it’s http://www.myfloridalicense.com), their communication style is compatible with your own and they have the experience that you need.
- You’ll also want to make sure that you get along with the CPA you ultimately choose, and actually like them. If you don’t like the CPA personally, even if they are known for being the best in their field, you probably won’t use them or trust them.
- Most reputable CPAs will be members of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and/or their state society of CPAs. These organizations have strict rules of membership and monitor their members regularly. Make sure the CPA that you work with is a member of one or more professional organizations.
Once you’ve found a CPA that you’d like to work with, don’t hesitate to take it slow. You may want to start out with a small project to see how well you work together before engaging them on a larger scale. A reputable, and good CPA will understand and will be happy to work with you. It’s your business so make the CPA earn your trust first!
Don’t Go It Alone! Get your Trusted CPA Advisor!
The success of your business relies on you! The growth of the American economy relies on small businesses and entrepreneurship. Don’t go it alone! Bring a Trusted CPA Advisor along with you!
Susan M Nieland, CPA